Richard Pitino’s Last Stand Comes Wednesday Night vs #9 Maryland

RENÉE JONES SCHNEIDER • [email protected]

I just got done binging the “WASHINGTON” documentary on The History Channel this weekend, so Maryland coming to Williams Arena on Wednesday for Richard Pitino’s last NCAA Tournament stand of the regular season might as well be destiny.

Need more divine intervention to sway you? By some miracle, the Gophers jumped double digit spots in the NET Rankings after their dominating win at Northwestern, climbing all the way back up to #42. They may not be on Joe Lunardi’s bubble anymore but they are in the same area of the NET, as what they were before three disappointing losses to Iowa, Indiana and Penn State.

The Gophers sitting that high in the NET and NOT being projected as an NCAA tournament team, is an anomaly if you look at the rest of the schools around them (projections via Joe Lunardi – Updated 2/24):

NET RankingTeamRecordProjected NCAA Seed (Lunardi)
40Alabama15-12Next Four Out
41Arizona St.19-89-seed
43Xavier17-10Last Four Byes
44Wichita State20-7Last Four Byes

And what do you think is going to happen to those NET Rankings and NCAA projections if the Gophers pull out a shocker vs the Terrapins (#10 NET | #9 AP) on Wednesday night?

It’s going to blow those current projections into space. We’d be knocking on the top-30 of the NET, you’d think. Last year, Little Ricky saved his job by winning a late game just like this against a highly-rated Purdue team, sparking an undefeated finish and a run into the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament.

He’ll need this game vs Maryland, to hopefully spark the same type of run. If they get the MD win though, the Gophers still have three games to finish the season, and it’s not an easy schedule:

  • 3/1: @ Wisconsin
  • 3/4: @ Indiana
  • 3/8: Nebraska

Even after this game vs Maryland, the Gophers remaining schedule is a gauntlet. Playing at the Kohl Center and at Assembly Hall is no fucking joke. If you can pull the upset vs Maryland though, you might only need one of those two vs the Badgers and Hoosiers.

If you lose vs MD, the difficulty level of the games that follow could make rebounding before the Big Ten Tournament even more difficult.

Just like the rest of us, Mark Coyle really seems to like Richard. It looks like he is looking for reasons to keep him. Pitino has young talent already on the roster (as long as Carr and/or Oturu stay) and he has Jamal Mashburn Jr on the way. If Coyle can watch Pitino and his crew dance in March, fate might be sealed with Pitino as our coach for the long term.

So this is your opportunity, Richard… In every battle, in every war, there are turning points. George Washington was one more lost battle away from losing the revolutionary war before it really ever began. He would have been shipped back to England, where he would have been unfairly tried, and put to death. But then, he snuck across the Delaware River in the dead of winter and took his first major battle, changing the entire outlook of the world forever.

Richard just needs to win a basketball game.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan

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