As the college basketball season heats up, FOX Sports North will round up what experts are saying about the chances for Minnesota to make the NCAA tournament in March. This is the sixth edition of the 2019 bracket roundup.
Losing five out of six games isn’t ideal at any point of the season, but especially this time of year.
With four conference games to go before the Big Ten tournament, the Minnesota Gophers (17-10, 7-9) need to start winning.
But not all hope is lost for an NCAA tournament appearance. Due to impressive wins already on their resume (Buffalo, Iowa, Wisconsin) — and a highly competitive conference — Minnesota is still considered a tournament team by most bracket projections across the web.
Of the 115 brackets compiled by Bracket Matrix, the Gophers are included in 111 (96.5 percent), although they are teetering on the bubble.
Sportemind’s College Basketball site is the most optimistic, placing Minnesota as a seven seed — the Gophers’ highest mark this week and more of an outlier than anything.
ESPN’s Joe Lunardi projects Minnesota to be a play-in team as a 12 seed (the low mark this week), squaring off against fellow 12 seed Alabama in the “First Four.”
TeamRankings.com, though, was one of four brackets to not include the Gophers in its latest projections.
Nothing is guaranteed for the Gophers, but they can make the committee’s decision easier in the final four regular-season games. Minnesota has two more opportunities to stack up Top 25 wins — against No. 15 Purdue (home, March 5) and No. 24 Maryland (away, March 8) to close out the year.
Minnesota can’t afford another bad loss, so games against bottom-dwellers Rutgers and Northwestern this upcoming week might be must-win situations.
The clock is ticking.