Tourney bound? Gopher women, men have tall tasks against top-10 teams Thursday

The women are at Maryland and the men host Michigan.
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Whalen and Pitino

Thursday marks the biggest day of the year for both the Gophers men's and women's basketball teams as they have huge opportunities to impress the NCAA Tournament selection committee.

At 6 p.m., the Gopher women face eighth-ranked Maryland on the road, and at the same time, the Gopher men are at home against sixth-ranked Michigan. 

Based on bracketology from ESPN, the Gopher women are still on the outside looking in at the NCAA Tournament while the men are a bubble team that likely needs to do a little more to lock down an invitation. 

It's been a rollercoaster first season for head coach Lindsay Whalen, leading the Gophers to 12 straight wins to start the season only to lose seven of the next eight and now are riding a six-game winning streak. 

At 19-7 overall and 7-7 in the Big Ten, the only thing keeping Minnesota out of the projected tournament field, it appears, is its 102nd-ranked RPI

But a win on the road against the 22-3 Maryland Terrapins would do wonders for Minnesota's tourney chances. Remember, the Gophers were ranked in the top 15 earlier this season after upsetting then No. 12 Syracuse. 

"In leagues like this when the talent is so close, the teams that are playing hard and the teams that are playing desperate usually good things happen for them," said head coach Lindsay Whalen. 

Meanwhile, the Gopher men are currently projected as an 11-seed in Joe Lunardi's bracketology for ESPN.com

Richard Pitino's club lost to Michigan on a buzzer beater in Ann Arbor a couple of weeks ago, so pulling off the upset at Williams Arena Thursday night is a legit possibility. 

The Gophers have been outstanding at home (12-2) and dismal on the road (1-7), so the late-season showdown at The Barn is good timing for Minnesota, who will have its hands full against one of the best offensive teams in the country. 

"They're going to keep shooting 'em," head coach Richard Pitino said this week. "We've got to do our best job to take it away, make it difficult, rebound the basketball. They're a really good offensive team and they're a terrific defensive team." 

The men are 3-5 against ranked teams this season, and a win over Michigan would easily be their best yet. 

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