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Big Ten Tournament 2011: Wildcats Eliminate Gophers, 75-65

For a little while, it looked like the Gophers had a chance to get themselves a victory and move on to a match-up with the Ohio State Buckeyes on Friday afternoon. But, as has been the case for the past couple of months, the Gophers completely fell apart late.

The Gophers took a 44-42 lead on a dunk by Trevor Mbakwe with 12:54 left in the ball game, but from that point on it was all Wildcats, as Northwestern scored 24 of the next 30 points to turn what was a close contest into a laugher, ultimately beating Minnesota by a score of 75-65.

Michael Thompson was on fire for Northwestern, and wound up setting a record for most points scored in a single Big Ten Tournament game with 35 points on 11-for-22 shooting. Mbakwe led Minnesota with 19 points and 11 rebounds, and Ralph Sampson III chipped in with 13. Blake Hoffarber, in what might be his final game as a member of the Golden Gophers, finished with 12.

Northwestern will move on to battle Ohio State in tomorrow afternoon's first game, while the Gophers now have to sit back and wonder whether or not they'll even get an invitation from the NIT.

Up next, we'll have the Michigan State Spartans and the Iowa Hawkeyes.

Photographs by Micah Taylor, clairity, and Fibonacci Blue used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.