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In or out; Gophers sit squarely on 'the bubble'

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It's February and the Minnesota Gophers are finding themselves in a familiar position, on the bubble with the NCAA Tournament just around the corner.

After their big rally in the second half to beat Northwestern on Sunday, the Gophers find themselves at 17-9 and 6-7 in the Big Ten. Their tournament resume includes victories at home over Wisconsin, Ohio State and Indiana.

If the tournament were to start today a pair of the top NCAA Tournament forecasters have the Gophers in the "Big Dance."

ESPN's Joe Lunardi projects the Gophers will be in the tournament. Lunardi has them as a 10-seed in the Midwest Region, matched up against 7-seed Memphis.

Jerry Palm of CBS Sports also has the Gophers in the tournament as a 10-seed. He has them in the West Region matched up against 7-seeded Pittsburgh.

It won't be easy for the Gophers though. In their remaining five games the Gophers go head-to-head with three ranked opponents, according to KSTP-AM. Minnesota takes on No. 24-ranked Ohio State, No. 15 Iowa and No. 20 Michigan all before the end of the regular season.

Richard Pitino's club beat the Buckeyes at Williams Arena on Jan. 16. But they lost by three to Michigan at home and were beaten handily by the Hawkeyes in Iowa.

Only Wednesday's game against Illinois and a March 9 contest with Penn State remain against unranked opponents, on the Gophers' schedule.

Tip-off on Wednesday night for the Gophers and Illinois is scheduled for 8 p.m.

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