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Gophers still might need to beat Wisconsin for NCAA tourney bid


The Gophers are still on the bubble, and they will stay on the bubble if they don't beat rival Wisconsin later today.

Minnesota's 63-56 victory over Penn State in the first round of the Big Ten tournament very well could be enough to convince the selection committee that Minnesota belongs in the NCAA tournament, but that's the glass half full approach. The mind of a pessimist, or a realist, rather, says the Gophers won't get invited without a win over the Badgers.

Or, if the opinion of Sports Illustrated's Michael Beller is accurate, the Gophers might have to do something they've never done before to get in – win the Big Ten tournament.

The Golden Gophers had just three wins in 10 tries against conference rivals that are headed to the NCAA tournament. Can they get three in the next three days? That might be what it takes to get in, and the road starts against the Badgers.

Minnesota head coach Richard Pitino is on record as saying one win could be enough to get them in. He also said the thought of having to win three games, which was proposed by CBS Sports' Jerry Palm, was crazy. Palm's latest bracketology still has Minnesota as one of the first four teams out. ESPN's Joe Lunardi says the same.

Sports Illustrated's Martin Brickman says the Gophers need to beat Wisconsin "or they're out."

Rant Sports notes that Wisconsin is in the running for a potential No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament, so a second win over the Badgers for Minnesota, along with their top five strength of schedule, should be enough to receive an invitation.

The game tips off at 5:30 p.m. at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Here's to hoping Pitino will be pumping his fist again.

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