With the 2019-’20 college basketball season wrapping up, it’s a great time to look back on the decade for the Big Ten. While the league didn’t win a national championship during the 2010s, it did send a variety of teams to the Final Four and had plenty of quality play.
So, in that mindset, BTP is looking at the most memorable games for each Big Ten team during the 2010s. These aren’t necessarily the most significant or the most fiercely contested games. Rather, they’re the most memorable. So, just because a game came in the postseason doesn’t guarantee it a spot on this list.
But before we jump in, a few other notes on our criteria. To qualify for this list, a game needed to happen sometime between January 1, 2010 and December 31, 2019. I realize that cuts between two seasons, but that’s the criteria we’re using. A team also didn’t have to win a game for it to make this list. For instance, Michigan’s loss to Louisville in the 2013 title game was certainly memorable, even though the Wolverines didn’t come out on top.
With that, let’s look at the 10 most memorable games for the Golden Gophers over the last decade.
The Most Memorable Minnesota Games During the 2010s:
- Minnesota vs. #8 North Carolina (November 19, 2010) — Minnesota 72, North Carolina 67
The Gophers started out the 2010-11 season with some returning talent and had the opportunity to outperform expectations in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off Challenge. They knocked off the top-10 Tar Heels in this one which allowed the Gophers to win the Thanksgiving tournament against a West Virginia team that was coming off a 2010 Final Four appearance. Blake Hoffarber (20 points) outplayed future NBA players Harrison Barnes, John Henson, and Tyler Zeller in this matchup to propel the Gophers to a top-15 ranking the next week.
- Minnesota vs. #6 Maryland (February 18, 2016) — Minnesota 68, Maryland 63
This is one of the worst Gopher teams of recent memory, starting out 0-13 in conference and marred by the suspension of three of their freshmen. Minnesota finally got the monkey off its back against one of the top teams in the country with only five games left in the regular season. The Terps were led by Diamond Stone and Melo Trimble, but couldn’t find a way to beat the Gophers in this one. This game is meaningless in terms of Minnesota basketball history, but you couldn’t help but feel happy for the seniors on this team that were able to enjoy this victory over a top-10 team.
- Minnesota vs. Washington (March 27, 2012) — Minnesota 68, Washington 67
The Gophers underwent a tough stretch in February of this season which took them out of contention for the NCAA Tournament. However, they made the most of their postseason by ultimately making it to the NIT Championship after this win against the Huskies. Andre Hollins proved his worth as only a freshman, facing off against two future first-round picks — Tony Wroten Jr. and Terrence Ross. This Gopher win came about despite blowing a six-point lead with just 90 seconds left in regulation.
- Minnesota vs. #1 Indiana (February 26, 2013) — Minnesota 77, Indiana 73
The Gophers entered this game on the NCAA Tournament bubble, hovering just under .500 in the Big Ten. Minnesota had nearly as many offensive rebounds (17) as Indiana had total boards (22). Trevor Mbakwe had his typical, dominating game with 21 and 11. This win pretty much solidified the Gophers a spot in the tourney despite finishing the season 8-10 within the conference.
- Minnesota vs. UCLA (March 22, 2013) — Minnesota 83, UCLA 63
This game was one of those classic 6 vs. 11 Tourney matchups between the higher-seeded, young and talented team and an experienced team looking for an upset. However, the 11-seeded Gophers were able to overcome two future first-round picks — Kyle Anderson and Shabazz Muhammad — to advance to the second round. Andre Hollins was the game’s leading scorer with 28. The Bruins were held to just 31% field goal percentage, including 18% from three. Despite the Tournament appearances, both Tubby Smith and Ben Howland were fired after the 2012-13 season.
- Minnesota vs. SMU (April 3, 2014) — Minnesota 65, SMU 63
The Gophers were in their first season under baby-faced head coach, Richard Pitino. They entered the NIT as a one-seed but didn’t let the disappoint of missing the NCAA Tournament stop them from competing. They beat Florida State in overtime in the semi-finals to set up this matchup against Larry Brown’s Mustangs. Austin Hollins hit a three with 46 seconds left to take the lead. The Gophers came out on top in this one after coming up one win short just two years prior.
- Minnesota vs. Iowa (February 8, 2017) — Minnesota 101, Iowa 89 (2OT)
Jordan Murphy had a ridiculous 25 points and 19 rebounds while Nate Mason matched him with another 25 points in this double-OT thriller. The Gophers combined for 14 blocks but the Hawkeyes continually overcame deficits in this game. Hawkeyes’ fans will look back on this game thinking about the questionable jump ball call in the final seconds of regulation which allowed Minnesota to tie it. This was the first time the Gophers had crossed the 100-point mark in a game since December of 2014.
- Minnesota vs. Louisville (March 21, 2019) — Minnesota 86, Louisville 76
The Gophers held a single-digit lead for most of the game but was never able to really pull away until the second half. Louisville tried to slow down Minnesota with a zone to counteract the Gophers’ tendency to not shoot threes. In turn, it was a barrage from beyond the arc, especially from freshman Gabe Kalscheur. The starters accounted for all 86 of Minnesota’s points on the way to the program’s first NCAA Tournament victory in six years.
- Minnesota vs. Illinois (March 14, 2013) — Minnesota 49, Illinois 51
This game was also in my previous write-up for most memorable Illini games of the decade. Minnesota came out on the losing end of things for this Conference Tourney matchup. The Gophers had the ball with a chance for the last shot until Austin Hollins stepped out of bounds after some defensive pressure. Brandon Paul took the last shot on the other end and hit a stepback jumper for the win. A great example of what we missed of March Madness this spring.
- #14 Minnesota vs. #25 Alabama (November 25, 2017) — Minnesota 89, Alabama 84
This is one of the more memorable games in recent NCAA history because of one factor — Alabama played the final 10+ minutes with only three players. The entire Crimson Tide bench was ejected after “leaving the bench” during a scuffle (the players were one step onto the court). Dazon Ingram fouled out with 11:37 left in the game and then John Petty turned his ankle, leaving ‘Bama with only three players. Despite the two-man advantage, the Gophers nearly squandered a fifteen point lead as Collin Sexton had one of the best hero-ball games ever (40 points). Truthfully, this is probably the weirdest game in college basketball in the past 20 years.