Minnesota Gophers men's basketball coach Richard Pitino is in his first year in the Big Ten, and he's already establishing himself as a man that will have his team ready to play against any team in the country.
The Gophers pulled their second upset over a ranked team with a 13-point win over No. 9 Wisconsin Wednesday night at Williams Arena. It closed out a stretch of four consecutive games against teams ranked in the top 15. Prior to that they took No. 5 Michigan State to overtime and lost; defeated No. 11 Ohio State; and got blown out by No. 14 Iowa.
Earlier this season, Minnesota took Syracuse – which might be the best team in the country – to the wire at the Maui Invitational.
Pause for a moment. Are these wins really as impressive as they look? Maybe not. SportsCenter tweeted an ominous stat that included each team Pitino and the Gophers picked up a signature win against – Ohio State and Wisconsin.
Pitino is taking the success in stride. Before beating the Badgers, Sports Illustrated's Seth Davis asked him if he feels like he's already proved that he belongs in the Big Ten.
"I don't look at it like that. Maybe it's because people have compared me to my father my whole life," Petino answered. "I'm a guy with 30-something wins, and there are guys in this league with six or seven hundred. I'm just trying to prepare our guys as much as possible for each game."
The success has some of college basketball's biggest names saying some very good things about Pitino and the Gophers.