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Gophers blown out by Illinois in first round of Big Ten tournament

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Minnesota Gophers 52

Illinois Fighting Illini 85

The Gophers suffered their largest defeat of the season at the hands of Illinois this afternoon during the first round of the Big Ten basketball tournament.

1) The Gopher's season likely over

While there's a slim chance that Minnesota will receive an invitation to the NIT this year, it's worth noting that they didn't merit an invite last year, when they had a superior record. According to the Pioneer Press, Minnesota has a history of declining invitations to smaller tournaments, such as College Basketball Invitational and the Tournament. If they decline those invitations again this season, tonight's loss likely spells the end of the season.

2) Buggs and Gilbert try to carry the Gophers

Junior forward Charles Buggs put in a strong effort to help out the Gopher's depleted roster – down to eight dressed players because of injuries and suspensions. He scored 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting, including two 3-pointers and this big dunk in transition.

Freshman guard Ahmad Gilbert scored 11 points off the bench and added 3 steals and 4 rebounds.

3) Minnesota struggles to defend the 3 point line

The Gophers gave up 13 3-pointers during today's game and allowed Illinois to shoot over 50 percent from beyond the arc. Marcus Fuller of the Pioneer Press noted the shortened bench led to the Gophers looking especially tired down the stretch, allowing 47 points in the second half.

Tweet of the Game

GopherHole pointed out this Gophers run that prompted a timeout from Illinois.

Up next

Gophers head coach Richard Pitino gave a press conference after the game to talk about the team's season, which ended with an 8-23 record overall – and 2-16 in the Big Ten.

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Big Ten Tournament: Gophers play Northwestern in first round

The Gophers men's basketball team is the No. 10 seed in this week's Big Ten Tournament. Minnesota plays the eight seed, Northwestern on Thursday. If the Gophers win they'll advance to the second round and play second-seeded Michigan. Minnesota will need to win four games in four days and claim the tournament title in order to receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.