Gophers Season Wrap-Up and Looking Ahead

March Madness

Well Gophers fans, the season didn't exactly end on the most fulfilling not. The loss to Middle Tennessee was a result of lots of very unfortunate coincidences. The first, and most obvious of these was the untimely injury to senior graduate transfer Akeem Springs. MTSU's stifling zone defense had only one flaw: Three Point Shooters. Without Akeem Springs' shooting ability the Gophers were forced to stay away from outside shooting. All the inside play led to foul trouble for senior center Reggie Lynch, although a few silly mistakes didn't do him any favors. Another major factor was the tournaments seeding. As practically any sports fan in the Minnesota-Wisconsin area heard, there was some controversy involving which teams were over or under-seeded. Wisconsin, who beat the Gophers twice in the regular season and who also went further in the Big Ten Tournament, was given an 8 seed. The Gophers were given a 5 seed, and we're matched up against a team that would have been the savvy upset pick against any other team seeded at 5 or higher. This all stacked up against the Gophers, and advanced predictive metrics barely gave the Gophers a 50% chance to win. Wisconsin was able to prove they deserved a higher seed by making it to the Sweet 16, and being a buzzer beater away from the Elite 8. The Gophers however were not so lucky. If the team's had  been given more appropriate seeds, which we projected at a 6 for Minnesota and a 5 for Wisconsin, both teams  could have gone even further than  they did. The committee took some heat for their decision, but never publicly admitted their mistake.

Season Accomplishments

Individuals
Nate Mason - All-Big Ten 1st Team
Amir Coffey - All-Big Ten 1st Team Freshman
Reggie Lynch - Big Ten Defensive 1st Team/Defensive Player of the Year, Led Big Ten in Blocks Per Game
Jordan Murphy - All-Big Ten 3rd Team
Richard Pitino - Big Ten Coach of the Year

Team
Most improved team in D-1 Basketball (+15 Wins)
Led Nation in Blocks Per Game

Looking Forward

The Gophers have the majority of their starting core returning for next season, and people are predicting a successful year as a result. The "way-too-early" Top 25 rankings that I have seen, predict anywhere between 7th and 15th ranked in the Nation. The incoming group of Freshman is also a very promising sign. Coach Pitino has used his roots in the New Jersey/New York to recruit High School phenom friends Isaiah Washington and Jamie Harris. Both are guards who have completed for very prominent AAU teams. Almost everything is shaping up for a strengthening of last year's record setting season. For the first time in a long time, things are looking good for the Gophers.




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