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The Minnesota Golden Gophers weren't expected to make a lot of noise in the college basketball postseason considering their wretched end to the regular season, but Tubby Smith's youngsters have turned things around. It'll all culminate on Thursday night in a game against the Stanford Cardinal for the 2012 NIT championship.
The Gophers have been carried by Rodney Williams through the majority of the tournament, but big contributions from Andre Hollins, Austin Hollins and Joe Coleman have helped along the way. The majority of those checking out SB Nation Minnesota are well aware of what the Gophers bring to the table, though, so we offer the excellent analysis of Kevin Pelton at Basketball Prospectus for what to watch regarding the team on the other side of the gym:
Over the course of the season, freshman Chasson Randle has emerged as Stanford's go-to player. Randle is a versatile scorer who's made 81 three-pointers at a 43.8 percent clip and can get to the paint off the dribble, though he too has struggled as a finisher, making 43.4 percent of his twos. Randle is at his best when he's getting to the free throw line. He drew 12 foul shots in a 30-point effort against Arizona State. Inside, senior Josh Owens commands a double-team in the post. Owens has nice touch on hook shots and has shot 57.6 percent on two-point attempts. Sophomore point guard Aaron Bright is the last stalwart for the Cardinal, contributing 43.3 percent shooting from downtown.
Beyond them, Johnny Dawkins mixes and matches from a large pool of role players. 6-9 sophomore forward Dwight Powell is the most talented of the group, but the one-time NBA prospect has yet to translate that into consistent production. He did have 18 points and nine boards against Illinois State. Josh Huestis has emerged as a perimeter stopper for Stanford, but he is not a threat from the perimeter.
Once again, it sounds like a difficult matchup for the Golden Gophers. If they're able to keep the turnovers to a minimum, though, there's a good chance Minnesota could win a college basketball championship -- even if it really only means they're the 69th best team in the nation.
Minnesota is led by junior forward Rodney Williams, who scored 18 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in the Golden Gophers overtime victory over Washington in the semifinals on Tuesday night. Williams averages a team-high 12.2 points and 5.6 rebounds per game.
Williams will have his hands full with 6-foot-8 senior forward Josh Owens, who recorded a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds in Stanford's semifinal win against UMass. Freshman guard Chasson Randle leads the Cardinal in scoring at 13.8 points per game. He shoots the ball better than 43 percent from beyond the arc.
Minnesota reached the finals by sneaking past Washington, 68-67, in overtime. Andre Hollins scored the final 13 points for the Golden Gophers. Rodney Williams recorded a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Minnesota also beat LaSalle, Miami and Middle Tennessee on its way to Madison Square Garden.
Stanford reached the finals with a 74-64 victory over UMass on Tuesday. Josh Owens led the way with 15 points and 12 reobounds for the Cardinal. Stanford also defeated Cleveland State, Illinois State and Nevada during the tournament.
Here is the complete 2012 NIT schedule and bracket. You can watch the game on ESPN.
The 2012 National Invitational Tournament, better known as the NIT, has featured some solid games when considering 68 teams were all involved in the actual NCAA Tournament. It's nearing a close, though, as Tuesday night's game between the Washington Huskies and Minnesota Golden Gophers will determine one half of the championship matchup.
That matchup won't be easy, either, for Tubby Smith's Golden Gophers.
The Gophers entered the tournament as the No. 6 seed whereas the Huskies were the top-seeded team in the tournament. Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus detailed the differences between the two teams in a column on Tuesday afternoon.
First, the takeaway on Washington:
The Huskies have the most NBA talent in the remaining group. In wing Terrence Ross and guard Tony Wroten, they boast two future first-round picks. Ross has been terrific in the NIT, averaging 26.3 points on 66.3 percent True Shooting. Wroten turned passer in the first two games, handing out 15 assists and attempting just 10 shots, before getting to the free throw line 14 times and scoring 22 points against Oregon. Washington has also gotten solid contributions from point guard Abdul Gaddy, a non-factor at times much of the season.
And now, our beloved Golden Gophers:
The key for Minnesota has been the play of athletic forward Rodney Williams, who shifted from the wing to the post after Mbakwe's injury. Williams has always been an impact defender and high-percentage shooter, but using an above-average share of the Golden Gophers' plays is a new addition to his repertoire. Williams has averaged 22.0 points in the NIT. Minnesota has also gotten 17.0 points per game from freshman point guard Andre Hollins, who has shot nearly the same percentage from three (39.1 percent) as inside the arc (39.8 percent) this season. Better to play Hollins-no relation to backcourt-mate Austin Hollins, who is the son of Memphis Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins-for the drive.
It won't be easy for the Gophers, especially if Ralph Sampson III remains on the sideline, but at least the level of play should make the game worth watching.
Minnesota has advanced this far with wins over LaSalle, Miami and Middle Tennessee. Washington, meanwhile, is the No.1 overall seed in the tournament and reached the semifinals with wins against Texas Arlington, Northwestern and Oregon.
Washington will rely heavily on wing Terrence Ross, who is leading the Huskies with 26.3 points per game in the NIT. Flashy freshman guard Tony Wroten Jr. has also been able to use his size and slashing ability to garner easy looks for his teammates all tournament long. His ability to get into the lane will be a crucial factor in Tuesday night's match up.
The winner of Tuesday's night cap will play the winner of the other semifinal match, showcasing Stanford and UMass.
The other semifinal, which tips off first, will feature No. 5 UMass against No. 3 Stanford. That game is at 7 ET on ESPN2.
The No. 6 seed Gophers made the tournament semis after dispatching Middle Tennessee 78-72 on Wednesday. Prior to that they blasted the Miami Hurricanes 78-60 in Coral Gables.
The No. 1 seed Huskies, who didn't get an invite to the NCAA Tournament despite winning the outright Pac-12 regular season title, are coming off a 90-86 win over intra-conference foe Oregon. Before that UW trounced Northwestern 76-55.
Rodney Williams has paced the Gophers, averaging 22 points in the NIT and hitting an incredible 26 of 38 shots.
Sophomore guard Terrence Ross has led the Huskies. He has scored 23, 32 and 24 points, respectively, in the team's three wins, connecting on 12 of 30 three-point attempts.
Tuesday's TV schedule is:
The Minnesota Golden Gophers will continue their nice run in the National Invitational Tournament, advancing to the semifinals by knocking off No. 4 Middle Tennessee on Wednesday night, 78-72. Minnesota will now play No. 1 Washington next Tuesday at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Minnesota trailed the Blue Raiders at the half by four, 32-28, but made their first five shots in the second half en route to taking complete control of the game. An 11-4 run in the middle of the half and another quiet 10-4 allowed the Golden Gophers to build a lead that the Blue Raiders were unable to overcome in the final minutes, despite a nice little run at the end.
Middle Tennessee trailed by two with seven seconds remaining and was whistled for a tech because the defender on the indbounds crossed the boundary and made contact with the passer. Minnesota hit both of their free throws there and the subsequent two to complete the six-point win.
Rodney Williams was the game's leading scorer with 24 points on 8-for-11 shooting.
Tip next Tuesday is at 9 p.m. and will be aired again on ESPN2.
Two members of the NIT Final Four have been decided, with Washington and Massachusetts winning their games to make the semifinals. Now, the final two will be decided on Monday, and the Minnesota Golden Gophers will have a chance to make it into the semis against the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders.
Both teams had a bit of an upset special earlier to get to the quarterfinals. Minnesota toppled No. 2 seed Miami while the Blue Raiders beat their rivals and No. 1 seed Tennessee.
The Blue Raiders had won the Sun Belt with a 27-6 overall record and 14-2 in conference, but faltered in the conference tournament that was eventually won by Western Kentucky. Minnesota had a mediocre year in the Big Ten but a good overall record of 21-14 to earn their NIT berth. The winner of the match will go on to face the Washington Huskies.
Match Up: No. 6 Minnesota Golden Gophers vs. No. 4 Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders
Game Time: March 21, 7:00 p.m. ET.
A full, up to date bracket for the NIT can be found here.
Things were looking pretty bleak for the Minnesota Golden Gophers men's basketball team just a week ago. But two solid NIT victories and a returning star player might have just changed that outlook.
The Minnesota Golden Gophers have a big game coming up in the 2012 NIT Tournament, but Apple Valley point guard Tyus Jones could be key recruit for the future.
The quarterfinals of the men's National Invitational Tournament will continue on Wednesday night live on ESPN2. The winners will do battle in the semifinals at Madison Square Garden next Tuesday.
The first half of the quarterfinals took place last night, No. 5 seeded U. Mass took down No. 3 Drexel and No. 1 Washington defeated No. 3 Oregon. U. Mass will now play either No. 3 Stanford or No. 5 Nevada and Washington wil play the winner of the No. 6 Minnesota-No. 4 Middle Tennessee game in the NIT's version of the 'Final Four.'
The schedule for the second half of the quarterfinals is below:
No. 6 Minnesota vs. No. 4 Middle Tennessee: 7 p.m. ET on ESPN 2
No. 3 Stanford vs. No. 5 Nevada: 9 p.m. ET on ESPN 2
The quarterfinals of the men's NIT will take place on Tuesday and Wednesday, with the semis at Madison Square Garden set for Tuesday, March 27.
Two of the four quarterfinal matchups will be on Tuesday: No. 3 Oregon at No. 1 Washington, and No. 5 UMass at No. 3 Drexel. Both games will be on ESPN, with UMass-Drexel tipping at 7 ET and Oregon-Washington at 9 ET.
It's an all Pac-12 showdown in Seattle. The Ducks, 24-9, are coming off a 108-97 win over Iowa. Overall the Ducks have won six of seven, their lone loss coming by one point to Colorado in the Pac-12 tournament semifinals. Washington, 23-10, won the regular-season Pac-12 title but floundered in the tournament, losing its opening matchup against ninth-place Oregon State.
Drexel, 29-6, was awarded a No. 3 seed on the heels of its regular season title in the CAA; VCU was awarded the NCAA Tournament bid after winning the conference tournament. UMass, 24-11, finished fifth in the A-10 but have now won five of its last six games overall.
Here is a complete NIT bracket.
More NCAA coverage can be found at SB Nation's college hoops hub.
The No. 6 seeded Minnesota Golden Gophers are advancing in the 2012 National Invitational Tournament, knocking off the No. 2 seeded Miami (FL) Hurricanes on Monday night, 78-60. The Golden Gophers will play in the quarterfinals on Wednesday against No. 4 seeded Middle Tennessee from the Sun Belt Conference, who upset the SEC's Tennessee earlier in the night, 71-64.
Minnesota jumped out to a 12-0 lead on the Hurricanes and never trailed in their 18-point win. Miami answered the 12-0 run with an 11-0 run of their own, but the Gophers kicked it into another gear and held a double-digit lead for most of the game.
Junior guard Rodney Williams scored eight of the Gophers first 12 points and finished with a game-high 21 on 9-for-10 shooting. Andre Hollins and Joe Coleman added 14 points apiece and the Gophers shot 60-percent for the game.
Tip time for the quarterfinals match up vs. Middle Tennessee is 7 p.m. ET and will be aired on ESPN2. Winner will play the winner of the Oregon-Washington game.
The Minnesota Golden Gophers couldn't manage a run to the NCAA tournament thanks to a mediocre regular season, but they looked decent in their first NIT Tournament matchup against La Salle, winning 70-61.
On Monday the Gophers will play their second game in the tournament against the Miami Hurricanes to decide who will make it to the quarterfinals of Region 2. Miami had a more impressive regular season leading to their two seed in the NIT, putting together a winning record of 9-7 in the ACC but just being left out of the NCAA tournament bubble. The Gophers 6-12 conference record left no mysteries as to why they were not invited.
The game is scheduled to tip-off at 8 p.m. Central Time and will be televised on ESPN following the conclusion of the night's early NIT action between the Tennessee Volunteers and Middle Tennessee State.
Minnesota is celebrating coach Tubby Smith's 100th all time with with the Gophers after beating La Salle and will hope to make a deep run in the NIT so that they have something to celebrate in what has otherwise been a somewhat lost season for them.
The 2012 National Invitational Tournament bracket has undergone quite a bit of change since the Minnesota Golden Gophers picked up an opening round victory over the La Salle Explorers. Following the weekend's results, The NIT Tournament has just three spots left in the semifinals.
One of those semifinal spots will be decided when the Gophers meet the Miami Hurricanes on Monday night. The Hurricanes entered the tournament as the No. 2 seed and picked up a convincing victory over Valaparaiso in the first round, but Tubby Smith's Gophers looked better than a No. 6 seed with their victory last week as well.
The remaining games on Monday night will feature the Tennessee Volunteers taking on Middle Tennessee -- with the winning team advancing to face the winner of Minnesota vs. Miami -- while the Stanford Cardinal take on the Illinois State Redbirds on the other end of the bracket.
The 2012 NIT schedule will continue on Monday night when Minnesota Golden Gophers take on the Miami Hurricanes in Coral Gables, Fla. That game, which will be televised on ESPN at 8 p.m., is one of three games on the National Invitational Tournament's schedule to open the week.
The Gophers entered the tournament as a No. 6 seed, but dispatched the La Salle Explorers in the opening round. Miami earned a No. 2 seed by way of a 20-12 record, including 9-7 in the ACC. The Hurricanes will be a bit short-handed in their game, too, as Durand Scott is serving part of a multi-game suspension mandated by the NCAA for inappropriate contributions under former coach Frank Haith.
The other games taking place on Monday night will feature the top-seeded Tennessee Volunteers taking on the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders in an intrastate rivalry game as well as the Stanford Cardinal matching up with the Illinois St. Redbirds at 11:30 p.m. on ESPN2.
The 2012 National Invitational Tournament has played through the first round, following the completion of Wednesday night's games, meaning there's need for a new NIT Bracket. The Minnesota Golden Gophers will play the Miami Hurricanes in the second round, as the bracket shows below, but there are plenty of other interesting matchups.
Both of Minnesota's Big Ten brethren made it to the second round with Northwestern defeating Akron and the Iowa Hawkeyes overcoming the Dayton Flyers. If they're able to defeat their second round opponents, a Big Ten tournament is guaranteed to make the semifinals -- though the Washington Huskies and Oregon Ducks probably have other plans.
Another fun matchup is taking place in the Gophers' regional as the Tennessee Volunteers will play Middle Tennessee in an intrastate battle. On the other side of the bracket, top-seeded Seton Hall was able to advance, but the Arizona Wildcats were upset by the No. 8 Bucknell Bison in their regional.
Junior forward Rodney Williams led all scorers with 21 points on 9-of-17 shooting while sophomore guard Austin Hollins added 16 points on 7-for-11 shooting. Ralph Sampson III didn't return from injury as expected, but it didn't hurt their production as Minnesota shot 52 percent as a team despite shooting just 1-of-11 from long range.
La Salle was kept in the game by hitting five of their 10 threes. They were led by senior guard Earl Pettis, who scored 19 points while Ramon Galloway threw down some tremendous dunks despite scoring just 13 points
The Golden Gophers will take on the Miami Hurricanes, who beat Valparaiso on Wednesday night, in the next round of the tournament.
The Minnesota Golden Gophers will play their first game of the 2012 National Invitational Tournament, better known as the NIT, on Wednesday night against the La Salle Explorers. The Golden Gophers are the No. 6 seed, but should enter the tournament schedule with a bit of confidence considering they were able to take the Michigan Wolverines to overtime in last week's Big Ten Tournament.
The Gophers lost a heartbreaker to the Wolverines in the second round of their conference tournament, dropping an overtime decision after trailing for a decent amount of the final 10 minutes of their game. They'll look to build on that, specifically the success their young stars had, when they play the Explorers in a game scheduled to be televised on ESPN2 at 6 p.m. Central time.
The Explorers won their opening round game in the A-10 Tournament, but fell in the second round to the Saint Louis Billikens before advancing any further. La Salle finished the season with a 21-12 record, going 9-7 in their conference.
The 2012 NIT Tournament bracket didn't see a lot of turmoil in the first round of the annual basketball tournament as the majority of the teams that were supposed to advance through the first round did just that. One team that may have done a bit of bracket-busting, however, was the Iowa Hawkeyes.
The Hawkeyes pulled off the biggest upset of the night on Tuesday, defeating the No. 2 Dayton Flyers 84-75 despite entering the game as the No. 7 seed in its region. All three top seeds in action -- the Washington Huskies, Seton Hall Pirates and Tennesse Volunteers -- advanced through their scheduled first round opponents as well.
A full updated bracket is included below.
The 2012 NIT schedule will continue Wednesday night with another full slate of games on the ESPN network. The Minnesota Golden Gophers will attempt to move through the bracket starting at 7 p.m. on ESPN2, but there are plenty of other games to keep an eye on as the first round of the tournament comes to a close.
The winner of Wednesday night's game between the Gophers and La Salle will advance to play the winner of a game between the Miami Hurricanes and Valparaiso Crusaders. If anyone's interested in doing some advance scouting, that game will be televised on ESPNU at 7:30.
The other game that might be worth keeping an eye on will take place following the conclusion of the Gophers game. That's when the top-seeded Arizona Wildcats host the Bucknell Bison, a team featuring Roseville, Minn., native Mike Muscala.
Minnesota Golden Gophers head coach Tubby Smith said Monday he plans on returning next season.
The 2012 National Invitiational Tournament, better known as the NIT, will tip-off on Tuesday night on with games all over the ESPN family of networks. The game most important to our region between the Minnesota Golden Gophers and La Salle Explorers won't happen until Wednesday, but there's plenty of stuff to look for as far as potential opponent's further ahead in the bracket are concerned when Tuesday's schedule begins.
The Dayton Flyers will take on the Big Ten's Iowa Hawkeyes on ESPN at 7:30 p.m. followed by the Oregon Ducks playing the LSU Tigers on the late game in the matchups that are likely to be the most buzzworthy considering they're being televised on ESPN.
One other team to keep an eye on, aside from the top-seeded Washington Huskies, is the Northwestern Wildcats. The Wildcats were essentially eliminated from the NCAA Tournament by the Gophers, but they're still representing the Big Ten with a No. 4 seed in the NIT.
Tuesday's full schedule is included below. All times are Eastern.
The 2012 National Invitational Tournament will tip-off on Tuesday evening when the Minnesota Golden Gophers take on the La Salle Explorers in the first round of the other tournament contributing to March Madness. The Gophers ended the regular season on a sour note, but showed promise in last week's Big Ten Tournament while being led by a team of youngsters.
True freshman Andre Hollins became an overnight star, at least in the local market, while redshirt freshman Elliott Eliason showed the hustle and rebounding that has been missing in the Gophers lineup for most of the season. Both earned accolades from us following their first round upset of the Northwestern Wildcats, but head coach Tubby Smith chimed in with similar praise on Monday afternoon while talking to the Pioneer Press.
"We found a leader in Andre Hollins, a guy who we can put the ball in his hands," Smith said. "I think Elliott Eliason got quality minutes and he look good doing it. Those are young guys - all freshmen - who haven't ... played in (the postseason)."
While it'd be great to see the young guys continue to improve, Smith pointed out the ultimate goal is still putting a winning team on the court every night until this season is over -- meaning their first loss in the 2012 NIT Tournament Bracket.
"I think we're capable of a lot of things next season," Hollins said. "But for now, we have to take it step by step. We're not looking to next season because we have games to play. We want to win, and we want to get better."
The Minnesota Golden Gophers made waves during the Big Ten Tournament by forcing a pair of overtime games, the first of which ended in an upset victory over the Northwestern Wildcats. They'll play the role of the underdog again this week the the 2012 National Invitational Tournament, but will likely have a better chance considering senior center Ralph Sampson III is expected to return from injury.
Sampson missed the Gophers' Big Ten Tournament games with a knee injury he sustained practice, but head coach Tubby Smith said he expects his only senior to be ready for their run through the 2012 NIT Tournament bracket. Coach Smith hasn't decided whether Sampson or redshirt freshman Elliott Eliason will start, however, according to the Pioneer Press.
"He (Sampson) looked good this morning," Smith said. "Elliott played well. Sampson has to be fully physically ready, or he won't be able to help us. I thought today he showed a lot of that, although he seemed to be a little ginger, a little tender out there. But he did go hard while he was out there. He's an excellent free throw shooter, if we can get him to the line.
Eliason was very solid in the Big Ten Tournament, being a key factor in the first round victory, but a poised Sampson can make things happen.
March is always the best time of year for college hoops. But in Minnesota, the Madness is muted since the Gophers haven't been relevant for way too long.
The Minnesota Golden Gophers were selected as No. 6 seed in the 2012 National Invitational Tournament bracket and will play La Salle on Wednesday night. The full bracket was released later on Sunday night, as part of Selection Sunday, and features quite a few good teams.
The Big Ten is represented pretty well in the 2012 NCAA Tournament as well as the NIT Tournament as the Gophers join the Iowa Hawkeyes and Northwestern Wildcats in the bracket. One team that isn't in, however, is the Illinois Fighting Illini despite matching the Gophers' 6-12 record during conference play.
The No. 1 seeds in the NIT Tournament include the Washington Huskies, Arizona Wildcats, Tennessee Volunteers and Seton Hall Pirates. SB Nation's Mike Rosenthal listed the Pirates as the biggest snub in the NCAA Tourney.
It was a disappointing Sunday for a number of teams hoping to hear their name called during the selection special, but it was especially brutal for a Seton Hall team that most "Bracketologists" had penciled into the field of 68.
The Pirates' lone non-conference loss was to Northwestern, and their computer numbers appear to be at-large worthy enough. They had a chance to help themselves by earning a couple of quality wins in the Big East Tournament, but they fell to eventual champion Louisville in the second round.
The full bracket is included below.
The Minnesota Golden Gophers weren't selected to be in the 2012 NCAA Tournament field so the majority of Minnesotans will instead need to jump on the bandwagon for St. Cloud, Minn. native Nate Wolters and the South Dakota St. Jackrabbits. That or they could tune in to the National Invitational Tournament since Tubby Smith's team will be involved in their bracket.
The Gophers were given No. 6 seed in the annual also-ran tournament and will play the La Salle Explorers in the first round of the tournament. The game between Minnesota and La Salle will take place on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. and will be televised on ESPN2.
There were some that thought the Gophers would have needed to win two games in the Big Ten Tournament to make it into the NIT, but apparently their ability to force overtime against the Michigan Wolverines after upsetting the Northwestern Wildcats was enough.
For more on the Minnesota Golden Gophers, check out The Daily Gopher. You can also learn more about college basketball around the nation at SB Nation's College Basketball hub. A full NIT bracket is available here.
The Minnesota Golden Gophers didn't make the 2012 NCAA Tournament, but all hope isn't lost for Tubby Smith's team continuing to play basketball this season. The 2012 NIT bracket will be released on Sunday afternoon and, following Minnesota's better than expected showing in the Big Ten Tournament, there's a chance that the show will go on.
The Gophers are expected to either be a fifth or sixth seed according to those following the happenings related to the NIT tournament field. Yes, there are people that follow the NIT as both NITology and The Bracket Project have their projected posted.
NITology, by the way, projects that the Gophers will meet up with the Marshall Thundering herd.
Time: 9 p.m. Eastern, two hours after the NCAA Selection Show ends.
TV information: You can find the NIT Selection show on ESPNU.
The Minnesota Golden Gophers suffered their second overtime defeat in as many days on Friday, a loss that had more implications than eliminating them for the 2012 Big Ten Tournament's title contention. Friday's loss not only meant the Gophers were no longer eligible for the Big Ten's automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament, but it could have also knocked them out of the less-prestigious NIT Tournament.
There were quite a few ups and downs for the Gophers over the last few weeks of the season: their six-game losing streak, their upset over the Northwestern Wildcats despite the Gophers being the No. 10 seed in the tournament and the fact they were within seconds of an upset over the Michigan Wolverines before their heart-breaking overtime loss.
Tubby Smith talked to the media following his Gophers loss on Friday, saying there's no more guaranteed basketball for Minnesota's young team.
The 10th-seeded Gophers (19-14), who possibly ended Northwestern's NCAA tournament hopes with an opening-round upset Thursday, were 4-1/2 minutes from securing a National Invitation Tournament bid with a nine-point lead against the Big Ten co-champion Wolverines (24-8) in regulation.
That wasn't enough of a cushion for a team whose season was defined by missed opportunities in late-game situations.
Smith won't gather his players Sunday to watch the NCAA tournament or NIT selection shows. But he told them to "keep hope alive that we will get an opportunity to play."
It'll be interesting to see what happens on Selection Sunday, huh?
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