Bracket Projection: Minnesota
After hot start, the struggling Gophers are a long shot to make a tourney run
The Minnesota Golden Gophers were once ranked No. 8 in the country with a 15-1 record -- the only blemish being a loss to Duke. They not only seemed like an NCAA tourney lock, but also a threat to do some damage once in the field. But in a season with more rises, dips and potholes than a San Francisco street, Tubby Smith's team was lucky just to make the field of 68 as the Gophers finished 20-12. Here's the bottom line: Minnesota's total body of work was enough to overcome its limp to the finish line. Now that they're in the Big Dance, can the Gophers stay a while?
ESPN Insider has your answers, as Joe Lunardi has enlisted a team of Bracketologists to compile advanced metrics, key scouting intel and best- and worst-case tournament scenarios for all 68 teams, in order to help you make smart picks in your bracket. Plus, as Lunardi fills out his bracket, he'll give you his prediction on how each team will fare.
Trevor Mbakwe may be too big a load for UCLA to handle, but it's the rest of the Golden Gophers that concern me. Minnesota hasn't won away from home since Jan. 9, and that's the wrong kind of streak to take into the NCAA tournament. Who knows? Maybe Tubby Smith can break out the Harlem Shake again and shake the Gophers from their late-season doldrums.
Best wins: Memphis, Michigan State, Wisconsin (OT), Indiana
Worst losses: at Northwestern, Illinois (twice, including the first round of the Big Ten tournament), at Iowa, Nebraska
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Insider Tourney Guide
Joe Lunardi and his team of analysts have broken down every NCAA tournament team's strengths, weaknesses and player tendencies.