Believe it or not, NCAA Tournament time is quickly approaching. Sure, two months sounds like a lot of time, but for a team like the Minnesota Golden Gophers it really isn't. Minnesota will likely be on the bubble when Selection Sunday rolls around in early March.
The Gophers are 13-4 overall and 2-2 in the Big Ten.
Amelia Rayno of the Star Tribune believes it will take at least nine conference wins to reach the "dance." Minnesota still doesn't have a victory over a team ranked in the top 25, although they took No. 5 Michigan State to overtime on the road.
The Gophers host No. 11 Ohio State Thursday night at Williams Arena. It's the second of four consecutive games against ranked opponents. They also have games coming up against No. 3 Wisconsin and No. 14 Iowa, which beat the Buckeyes this week. Rayno believes Minnesota has a chance to beat the Buckeyes.
ESPN's Joe Lunardi has the Gophers listed as one of the last four teams into the NCAA Tournament in his latest bracketology, which was released Thursday. Lunardi has Minnesota in a first-round game against Stanford for the right to hold the No. 12 seed in the South Regional.
Michigan, Ohio State, Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan State are all in Lunardi's field of 68, with the Badgers and Spartans holding No. 1 seeds.
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.
RECORD: 13-4 (2-2 in the B1G)
VS. RPI TOP 50: 1-3 (win over Florida State, losses to Syracuse, Michigan, Michigan State)
VS. RPI TOP 100: 2-1
BAD LOSSES (defined by us as losses to teams outside the top-68 in RPI): Arkansas