Upset win over Rutgers helps, but Whalen's Gophers have a lot more work to do to reach NCAA Tournament

Seven losses in eight games hurt Minnesota's tourney chances.
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Lindsay Whalen's first year as head coach of the Gophers women's basketball team has been a rollercoaster, and the latest trip up the track was a 60-46 win over Big Ten-leading Rutgers on Sunday. 

Minnesota trailed at the half only to turn it around and win going away, 60-46 at Williams Arena, with star forward Taiye Bello leading the way with 11 points and an eye-popping 21 rebounds. 

“We’ve gone through our slump of losing," Gophers star forward Taiye Bello said, via the Star Tribune. “We just wanted it more. We needed it as a team."

They sure did. 

The rollercoaster ride has featured 12 straight wins to begin the season followed by seven losses in the next eight games. Now they're back on the up with back-to-back wins. 

At 15-7 overall and 4-7 in the Big Ten, the Gophers are currently on the outside looking in at the NCAA Tournament. But they still have time to convince the NCAA selection committee that they belong. 

According to Monday's updated bracketology at ESPN.com, six Big Ten teams are projected to make it to the NCAA Tournament: Maryland, Rutgers, Michigan State, Iowa, Purdue and Indiana.

The Gophers play all of those teams between now and the end of the regular season in early March. 

  • Feb. 6 - at Indiana
  • Feb. 10 - vs. Northwestern
  • Feb. 14 - at Purdue
  • Feb. 17 - vs. Penn State
  • Feb. 21 - at #10 Maryland
  • Feb. 28 - at #20 Rutgers
  • Mar. 3 - vs. #23 Michigan State

That's where Minnesota needs to do some damage to get back in good standing with the NCAA selection committee, and it'll help that they have two high-quality wins over No. 17 Rutgers and No. 15 Syracuse, which was ranked 12th when Minnesota beat them in late November. 

Either that or they'll need to win the Big Ten tourney for an automatic invite. 

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