Minnesota basketball fans have reason to be excited about their team right now. They have a 13-2 record and are well on their way to making it back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in four years. They followed up their recent loss to Michigan State with a nice win over Purdue on the road. They will look to keep the momentum going in another road game at Northwestern tonight. Here is a look back at the last week and a preview of the Northwestern matchup.
Tough Loss to Michigan State
It is always tough to beat Michigan State, who came into the season as a Big Ten favorite. They have one of the best coaches in the history of the game in Tom Izzo, and he always has his team ready to play his hard nosed style of basketball. That toughness was on display in their 75-74 overtime victory over the Gophers.
The loss was a bitter pill to swallow for Minnesota after they raced out to a 39-26 halftime lead. The Spartans kept chipping away in the second half until they were able to force overtime. Credit the Gophers for not giving up after their second-half collapse. They fought hard throughout the overtime period, and were a missed Nate Mason jumper at the buzzer away from winning a Big Ten Conference opener for the first time under coach Richard Pitino.
Bouncing Back with a Road Win
After losing at home to open Big Ten play, the Gophers really needed a win on the road at Purdue. Purdue was ranked 15th coming into the contest, and you couldn’t blame Gophers fans if they were not hopeful coming into the game. Thankfully, Mason was ready to lead his team to a 91-82 victory over the Boilermakers, scoring 31 points and dishing out 11 assists.
It was the second-straight game to go into overtime for Minnesota. However, this time the overtime period was much kinder to the Gophers. They dominated the extra five minutes, outscoring the Boilermakers 18-9. This is the kind of tough road victory that can fuel a team’s confidence heading forward. It also will look great on Minnesota’s resume when it comes time for the NCAA Tournament committee to make their selections.
A Look at Northwestern
After getting a big road victory, it is important that Minnesota keeps the momentum rolling in their game against Northwestern tonight. This is a really big game. If the Gophers win, they will have a winning record in the conference, but losing will give them a losing record in conference play. The oddsmakers have the Wildcats as four-point favorites at home. Northwestern is led by junior guard Scottie Lindsey, who averages 15.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game.
It is always tough to win in Evanston. In fact, the Gophers have not won at Welsh-Ryan Arena since 2008. They have lost three straight games in the series to the Wildcats. Northwestern is 12-3 on the year, and Minnesota will need to bring their A-game if they want to leave Evanston with a victory.