The Minnesota Gophers have been gaining national attention as the season has progressed. Coming off a loss to Indiana last Saturday in Bloomington, the Gophers lost for the first time in 13 games and for only the second time all season. They remain in the top ten national rankings. ESPN’s Bracketology expert Joe Lunardi has Minnesota currently sitting at a 3-seed, which would be their highest tournament seed since they held a #1 seed in the 1997 tournament.
As the attention rises, so does the pressure. But for anyone wondering if the Gophers have what it takes to win the Big Ten, their grit and fight against Indiana showed that they do. It seems former Tennessee head coach and current ESPN analyst Bruce Pearl agrees. Yesterday on PTI, Pearl was asked just how good the Big Ten is this season, to which Pearl had this to say:
“I think you have three teams at the top of the league. I think you have Michigan, Indiana and Minnesota–Tubby Smith’s Minnesota. I think those are the top three teams in the Big Ten, all capable of getting to the Final Four.”
Pearl continues later in the interview by saying, “I think there are seven NCAA tournament teams in [the Big Ten] and three or four of them that are capable of winning the national championship.”
The hype is exciting, but this is the part of the season where Minnesota always falters. We need to focus on the task at hand. The Gophers are preparing for a monster home game against #5 Michigan tonight. A win tonight would help solidify Bruce Pearl’s opinion into more members of the national media. It’s a marathon, though, not a sprint. Keep improving and peak in March.