INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 10: Rodney Williams #33 of the Minnesota Golden Gophers loses the ball as he drives to the basket against Michael Thompson #22 and Alex Marcotullio #4 of the Northwestern Wildcats during the first round of the 2011 Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament at Conseco Fieldhouse on March 10, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Northwestern won 75-65. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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The first week without injured senior forward Trevor Mbakwe has to be considered a success for the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Minnesota earned a pair of wins over major conference foes, and those could pay dividends in the long run when it comes to making the NCAA Tournament.
This week the Gophers have a pair of easier game, as they host two mid-majors at the Barn starting Tuesday night when they host Appalachian State at 7 p.m. The Mountaineers enter the game with a 4-3 record, but just two of their wins have come against Division I competition. Minnesota will be the first major conference opponent this season for the Southern Conference program.
On Saturday at noon the Gophers will welcome a team that played in last season's NCAA Tournament. St. Peter's was a surprise conference tournament winner that earned an automatic berth before fellow Big Ten member Purdue blasted them in round one. St. Peter's is off to a rough start at 2-5 with wins over Siena and Binghamton.