The Minnesota Gophers could muddy up the NCAA Tournament discussion if they can knock off Ohio State on Tuesday.
Depending on where you look, and at what time of day you look, the Gophers have an RPI rating that warrants at least passing mention as a bubble team. As of Tuesday morning, StatSheet.com had Minnesota at No. 58, while RealTimeRPI.com had the Gophers at No. 61.
The Gophers missed a chance to pad their credentials last Thursday, losing 68-61 at home to Wisconsin. But a back-loaded schedule will give them ample opportunity to bolster their tourney bona fides coming down the home stretch, starting Tuesday against OSU.
According to the polls released this week, the Gophers still have home games against No. 6 (Ohio State), No. 7 (Michigan State) and No. 16 (Indiana). Throw in a road game at No. 15 Wisconsin, and Minnesota – despite being 17-8 overall and 5-7 in the Big Ten – could sneak into the tournament debate.
Ohio State is coming off home loss to Michigan State in which the Buckeyes scored a season-worst 48 points. Jared Sullinger had 10 turnovers as OSU lost its stranglehold on the Big Ten race.
Minnesota, meanwhile, is sitting in seventh place in the Big Ten. Despite not having any players who average more than 10.7 points, Minnesota is getting a respectable 69 points per game, which is in the middle of pack in the Big Ten. The Gophers are third in the conference in assists per game (15.7) and field goal percentage (47.3).
Tuesday’s game will tip at 6 central and air on ESPN.