Gopher men lose to Michigan; NCAA tourney looks less likely

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The Minnesota Golden Gophers' loss at No. 16 Michigan, 66-56, Saturday night, dims the team's hopes for an NCAA tournament bid.

The Gopher men's basketball team likely could have solidified a bid Saturday night, but a comeback effort fell short in its 66-56 loss to No. 16 Michigan at Crisler Arena, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. The Gophers are 2-7 on the road in Big Ten conference play.

Minnesota (18-12, 7-10) led by six points with 10 minutes left in the first half, but Michigan went on a 22-5 run to take a 31-20 halftime lead.

Senior Austin Hollins got off to a slow start with just two of his 16 points on 1-for-4 shooting in the first half. Junior point guard DeAndre Mathieu also had no field goals in the first half, after both players had strong performances in the Gophers' upset win over Iowa earlier in the week.

But Hollins and Mathieu came out strong after the break, combining for 15 of their team's first 17 points in the second half. The Gophers closed to within two points midway through the second half, the Star Tribune reports.

But the Gophers defense couldn't keep Michigan's shooters down the rest of the way. Nik Stauskas, the favorite for Big Ten player of the year, finished with 21 points on 5-for-8 shooting from three-point range for the Wolverines, said the Pioneer Press.

With the loss, the Gophers are not even on the NCAA bubble anymore. They have one regular season game left, against Penn State next Sunday at home. But a win against the unranked Nittany Lions is probably not going to be enough to get them an NCAA berth. Minnesota will likely need to have at least one win in the Big Ten tournament to even have a chance, according to the Pioneer Press.

The Wolverines (21-7, 13-3) clinched a share of the Big Ten title after Michigan State was upset at home earlier in the day by Illinois.

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