The Gophers' chances of receiving an invitation to the NCAA Tournament took a big hit when they dropped a home game to an underwhelming Illinois team last night. Head coach Richard Pitino said they did some "unthinkable things" in the 62-49 loss.
"This is a disappointing loss," he said, as reported by the Pioneer Press. "But we're playing three top 25 teams, one at home and two on the road. And then you got the Big Ten tournament. We don't talk about the NCAA tournament. I really believe that. And I'm not going to talk to them about it tomorrow. I'm going to talk to them about all the little things we made mistakes on."
Minnesota's tournament hopes were battered with the loss. According to the Star Tribune, Minnesota's offensive efficiency plummeted 12 spots to 35th in the country. CBS Sports called the a loss a "poppin' bubbles" kind of loss.
Richard Pitino's club was a step ahead many bubble teams entering the week, sitting there as a 10-seed in many brackets. But Wednesday's 13-point home loss to Illinois is terrible, and really hurts the resume. The Fighting Illini had lost 10 of their previous 11 games, and were just 3-10 in the Big Ten. Minnesota has now lost five of its last seven games, and a very difficult three-game stretch is coming up. It starts this weekend at Ohio State, then includes a home game against Iowa and a road trip to Michigan. They have nice wins over Wisconsin and Ohio State, but the Golden Gophers are 4-8 against the top 100.
Joe Lunardi's bracketology at ESPN.com still has the Gophers in the mix as a No. 11 seed.
Statistical data, outside of wins, will play a large role in the Gophers’ chances of reaching the tournament. RPI and BPI, as defined below, are very important.
RPI: Rating Percentage Index, a number used to rank teams based on strength of schedule and weight said team’s wins and losses. It is one of the numbers considered heavily by the selection committee when it chooses tournament participants.
BPI: Basketball Power Index, a similar ranking system that produces a number based on not only what the RPI considers, but more in depth numbers as well.
Here’s the statistical case the Gophers are making, according to ESPN.
RECORD: 17-10 (6-8 in the B1G)
VS. RPI TOP 25: 2-4
VS. RPI TOP 50: 3-5
VS. RPI TOP 100: 5-8
BAD LOSSES (defined by us as losses to teams outside the top-68 in RPI): Illinois, Northwester, Purdue