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Are Gophers a lock to make the NCAA tournament?

Welcome to life on the bubble, Minnesota.
Liam Robbins

Sunday's loss to the Maryland Terrapins didn't do the Gophers any favors when it comes to building a resume for the NCAA tournament. In fact, if you ask the experts from ESPN, the Gophers still have "work to do" in order to secure a bid to the big dance. 

"In the wake of Minnesota's 13-point loss at Maryland, the good news for fans in Minneapolis is that the Golden Gophers had built in a margin of safety in projected brackets before game time. Richard Pitino's men were being shown as a likely No. 9 seed, meaning a Quad 1 loss to the Terrapins isn't going to single-handedly eject Minnesota from the bracket. Then again, the bad news is simply that the Gophers looked so docile and cooperative in going down to defeat. On the Big Ten season, Minnesota is shooting just 29% on its 3s, and while it wasn't an issue against the hot-shooting Terps, the Gophers are also prone to being overwhelmed on their defensive glass. Fortunately for this team's seed, however, the 2021 Big Ten is nothing if not a land of profile-enhancing opportunity. Minnesota's next two games are at Indiana and at home against Illinois."

USA Today has the Gophers in as an 11 seed, currently projected to face sixth-seeded Kansas. 

The same 11 seed is given to the Gophers by CBS Sports bracketologist Jerry Palm, though Palm has Minnesota playing in the First Four, meaning they would have to beat another 11 seed (in this projection, Drake) for the right to be an 11 seed in the Round of 64. 

ESPN's Joe Lunardi last updated his bracketology Feb. 12, at which point he had Minnesota projected as a No. 9 seed. The loss to Maryland will certainly drop the Gophers to a lower seed. 

Minnesota could punch their wait out of the bubble if they could simply start beating Big Ten opponents on the road. The Gophers are 0-6 in Big Ten play away from Williams Arena. 

That's why Wednesday's game inside Assembly Hall against Indiana is huge, not only for the Gophers, but also the Hoosiers who are also on the bubble. A win on the road against a solid Indiana team would be a nice piece of proof for a Minnesota team that already has wins over Michigan and Ohio State, both of whom are projected as No. 1 seeds in the NCAA tournament.

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