Mar 9, 2012; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Minnesota Golden Gophers forward Rodney Williams (33) dunks against the Michigan Wolverines during the first half of the second round of 2012 Big Ten Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE

NIT 2012: Minnesota Golden Gophers Advance With 70-61 Victory Over La Salle

The Minnesota Golden Gophers will advance to take on Miami after their victory over La Salle on Wednesday night.

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NIT 2012, Gophers Vs. LaSalle: Minnesota Native Plays Hometown Team, High School Teammate

As Minnesota Golden Gophers freshman guard Joe Coleman takes the court Wednesday night, he will see a familiar face on the opponent's bench. Coleman's high school teammate D.J. Peterson is a 6-foot-5 freshman guard for the LaSalle Explorers.

Coleman was a junior and Peterson was a senior on Hopkins High School's 2011 state championship team. Peterson averages three points and two rebounds in 17 minutes per game, but he leads the team in three-point percentage.

"It’s just going to be fun playing against my former teammate and good friend," Peterson said. "We were close since junior high school. I’ve known him since the seventh grade. We would hang out on and off the court a lot. Obviously, Joe kind of blew up that (junior year). He had an outstanding season. It was just a fun time playing with him."

Coleman has started 15 games for the Gophers, averaging 5.3 points per game in just under 17 minutes per game.

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.

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NIT 2012: Minnesota Golden Gophers Have Advantage Inside Against Explorers

The Minnesota Golden Gophers will open the 2012 NIT against the La Salle Explorers on Wednesday night. It won't be easy for them to win considering they're technically the underdogs in the battle of the No. 3 seed versus the No. 6 seed, but there's a chance.

For one, it would help if the Gophers play with the heart they showed during last week's Big Ten Tournament run. It would help if the frontcourt plays well too, however, as The Daily Gopher opines that portion of the game is where Tubby Smith's team should shine.

This game should come down to who controls tempo and dictates style of play. If we can pound the ball inside to Rodney Williams, Ralph Sampson III and Elliott Eliason (in that order) we should be able to control things. If they are getting open threes and hitting them, they could win by 15. But we need to rebound each of their misses because every offensive rebound they get is an opportunity to hit another three.

It'll be interesting to see how everything shakes out ... and if the Gophers play to their strengths, of course.

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.

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NIT 2012, La Salle Vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers: TV Schedule, Time And More

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.

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.

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NIT Tournament Schedule: Wednesday's Slate Features Minnesota Playing La Salle

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.

Region 1

No Games

Region 2

No. 3 La Salle Explorers vs. No. 6 Minnesota Golden Gophers, 7 p.m., ESPN2.

No. 2 Miami Hurricanes vs. No. 7 Valparaiso Crusaders, 7:30 p.m, ESPNU

Region 3

No. 3 Drexel Dragons vs. Central Florida Knights, 7:15 p.m., ESPN3.

No. 2 St. Joseph's Hawks vs. No. 7 Northern Iowa Panthers, 7:15 p.m., ESPN3

Region 4

No. 1 Arizona Wildcats vs. No. 8 Bucknell Bison, 9 p.m., ESPN2

No. 4 Oral Roberts Golden Eagles vs. No. 8 Nevada Wolf Pack, 9:15 p.m., ESPN3

No. 2 Mississippi Rebels vs. No. 7 Illinois St. Redbirds, 9:30 p.m., ESPNU

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.

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NIT 2012: Minnesota Golden Gophers Hoping Young Players Continue To Develop

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."

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.

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NIT Tournament Bracket Should Be Easier For Gophers With Return Of Ralph Sampson

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.

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.

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NIT Basketball Tournament Bracket: Minnesota Golden Gophers To Play La Salle In First Round

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.

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