A good performance in the Big Ten tournament is the only hope that the Minnesota Golden Gophers have for getting a spot in the NCAA Tournament later in March after a lackluster end to their season dropped them out of the conversation. Their hopes went down a bit after center Ralph Sampson III went down with a knee injury earlier in the week during practice, however, keeping him out of their first round affair with the Northwestern Wildcats.
The Gophers squeaked out a win against the Wildcats, thanks in part to his backup Elliott Eliason stepping up in a big way, leading to Friday's quarterfinals match with the Michigan Wolverines. Unfortunately for Minnesota, Marcus Fuller of the Pioneer Press reports that it looks like Sampson might have to miss his second straight game with the injury.
"Ralph got hurt unexpectedly in practice (Monday)," Williams said. "The longer we play, the better chance we have to get him back. We're going to come out here every game fighting so we can extend the season for him. This is his last year."
Bad news for the Gophers, but Minnesota was able to hold its own against a tough Northwestern team with a depleted squad. They'll need to do it against one of the best teams in the conference to keep their hopes for meaningful basketball in March alive.
For more on the Minnesota Golden Gophers, check out The Daily Gopher.