Home Sports Gophers make ‘big dance’, lose to two-seed Michigan State

Gophers make ‘big dance’, lose to two-seed Michigan State

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The men’s basketball team from the University of Minnesota competed in the NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament, more commonly known as March Madness. 

The Gophers finished the regular season with a record of 22-14 and seventh in the the Big Ten Conference, landing them a tenth seed in the Midwestern conference in the Big Dance. This was the first time since 2017 that Minnesota made the tournament, having missed it last year following a disappointing 15-17 season. In the round of 64, they faced the University of Louisville Cardinals, who, despite being a seventh seed, were the heavy favorites against the supposedly-overmatched Gophers.

Many agreed with this assessment. According to official bracket statistics compiled by ESPN, 66.4% of fans picked Louisville over Minnesota, with NFL star Andrew Luck even going so far as to pick them to win the entire tournament. Despite all the hype around Louisville, Minnesota managed to pull off the upset, toppling the Cardinals 86-76.

Despite then losing 70-50 to the number two seeded Michigan State in the round of 32 (a team that would go on to advance to the final four), this remains an achievement as it is the first time in six years that Minnesota has recorded a win in the tournament. Not since 2013, when they beat #6 UCLA as an eleventh seed, have they tallied a NCAA tournament win.

Looking back at this season, Gopher fans should not weep but rejoice, remembering the triumph of their team over Louisville during the 2019 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

Although the Gophers were eliminated from contention, Minnesota remained involved.

Minneapolis hosted the Final Four and National Championship at U.S. Bank Stadium. The recently-constructed football stadium was temporarily converted to showcase three basketball games in a arena capable of filling nearly 70,000 college basketball fans.

In the Final Four, Texas Tech. beat Michigan State to meet Virginia, who beat Auburn on the other side of the bracket.

The NCAA Tournament Championship was one for the books as Viriginia recorded their first men’s basketball title, taking down Texas Tech. 85-77 in overtime.

The Gophers will look to rebuild and compete next year, in an attempt to advance further in the 2019-2020 NCAA Tournament.

warren4@stolaf.edu