The March to March Madness begins for the Gophers today, as they plan to destroy all who oppose them on the way to winning the Big Ten tournament, and a 15 seed in the Big Dance. It begins today, with the hated Wildcats of Northwestern (more like North-worstern).
The Gophers haven't had any problems dispatching the Cats this year, knocking them off by 19 and 20 in their two meetings, and I see no reason that should change. The Cats are playing for nothing, as even a run to the title game would still leave them out of the NIT, whereas the Gophers have a shot (albeit about as slim as possible) of grabbing at at-large if they can make the title game. Or not. I don't know, but it makes things more interesting to believe that.
In all seriousness, if I had to construct a bracket, realistically, that would give the Gophers the best chance to make the finals, this is exactly it. They won't have to face Wisconsin, Michigan State, or Ohio State until the finals, and those are three teams I don't want them to face.
Northwestern today is obviously a gimme, and if they can't handle this one, they might as well just decline any post-season invites at all and go cry. In round 2, they get the Hoosiers of Indiana, who the Gophers played tough twice back before they lost their coach and went into a mini-tailspin, losing two of their last three.
It's not just possible, folks, it's probable. Just as Syracuse and UAB knocked themselves out of the tournament by their showing in their conference tourny, the Gophers will rise to the occasion and make the run we've all been waiting for. You just gotta believe.
Gophers 91, Wildcats 57.
(I'll be back to say more words during the game)
PREGAME- I'm watching the Penn State/Illinois game (only because I have money on it, PSU +8), and Musberger just said "There's some gossip about Koufos from Ohio State going overseas to play professionally in Greece." What? Why the hell would he do that when he's projected to be a first round NBA pick? Because he's Greek? How stupid would that be? That's like some dude working his ass off to become a great actor, getting offered millions to do feature films and get all the hot chicks, and saying, "No thanks. I'm going to do plays at the local park in Bumfrick small town USA where I'm from for tips."
PREGAME- About to get started, and with a solid gambling day going on so far (8-4-2), hopefully the Gophers can grab us another win, as we have them -9.5.
?? - McKenzie gets it started with a layup. A swooping, circus layup, but still a layup. I expect that to continue all day. Additionally, ESPN is giving us a score or a time graphic.
18:06 - Gophers quickly down 7-2, and they look like complete dog crap. Looks like they've given up on the season already.
17:20 - Oh, and in case you're curious, "instant offense" Kevin Payton got the start again. Boggles the mind.
16:58 - Spencer is hurt and going to the locker room!!! Ohs NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOS!
16:39 - When Kevin Coble runs he looks special. Not "awesome" special, "retarded" special.
14:14 - We head to the first tv timeout with the Wildcasts up 12-5. Could be early jitters, but the Minnesota shots aren't falling, and the defense is giving Northwestern wide open looks. I hate to judge a game after less than six minutes, but things don't look good early.
12:52 - Shouldn't a point guard be able to shot fake and then dribble around his man without traveling? Al Nolen can't.
11:59 - Shamala actually shows some aggression, picking up an offensive foul after getting the pass in the paint. That dude should never be in the paint.
11:59 - Vanderbilt covers. We're now to 8-4-2 today.
11:14 - Announcer Steve Lavin seems to have a serious boner for the Princeton offense. It's all he can freaking talk about. Was he the coach when Princeton beat UCLA in the tournament? I don't remember, but it's pretty much the only thing that could explain his crush on Northwestern and their offensive style. Everyone knows only teams full of homos run the Princeton offense.
10:17 - Jesus, now he's converted Musberger and he's talking about their offense in glowing terms. It's just like the gays man. You spend too much time around a gay, and before you know it BAM! You've got the gay.
9:31 - 21-9 Northwestern. I'm beginning to think my "Gophers to the title" thing may have been misguided.
7:52 - TV timeout, and we have 21-11 Northwestern. And for some reason we break away to watch the end of the Baylor/Colorado game. Yes, it's in double OT, but there's 17 seconds left and Colorado is up 4 and at the line. How is this interesting to anyone other than fans of the two teams or people who bet on the game (note: we have Colorado +9.5). I just don't understand some of these kind of decisions.
6:35 - Now we're back, and it's 24-15. That's 7 points we missed. I will never know who scored those points. I am Jack's seething rage.
4:53 - Colorado wins and covers, 9-4-2 on the day.
3:12 - 32-18, Northwestern leads. They are giving up wide open shots and layups on defense, and on offense they seem confused by Northwestern, who seems to be using a mixture of zone and man-to-man. This team was NOT ready to play today. At all.
1:33 - Houston does not cover, or even win, against UTEP, so we drop to 9-5-2. C-USA looking to be a one bid league this year, as both Houston and UAB, the only two non-Memphis teams with at-large hopes, both flame out in the conference tournament today.
0:44 - Erin Andrews is at the Big Ten tournament? Wouldn't you rather be at the Big East, Big Twelve, or ACC? Those are on ESPN also. Weird, I figured she's get her choice of assignments and/or she'd go to wherever the ratings would be highest. I doubt very many people are tuning in to watch this shitbox of a conference.
0:00 - 34-21 Northwestern at halftime. Also Kyle Lohse signed with the St. Louis Cardinals. Wildcats shooting 65%, 56% from three. Nice defense. On the bright side, Erin Andrews is extremely attractive.
0:00 - Spencer Tollackson will not return in the second half due to an ankle injury. The HORROR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1 Also, he still looks exactly like The Todd.
19:30 - Al Nolen needs to look to score more when he penetrates. That sounded kind of dirty.
18:16 - Gophers score the first seven of the half to cut it to 34-28. All seven have come from pushing the ball and forcing tempo. Keep it up, keep it up.
13:32 - 42-38 Northwestern. Minnesota has switched into an aggressive 1-2-2 zone on defense with a lot of pressure and a lot of energy, and Northwestern is having trouble dealing with it. On offense they are pushing the tempo at all opportunities, but are still having trouble in the half court against the switching man-to-man the Wildcats are using. If Michael Thompson was on fire - all 8 NW points this half, the Gophers might have the lead. They need to keep attacking on both ends like this.
13:10 - I just discovered potatoes in our fridge that have partially liquefied. I didn't even know that could happen.
12:20 - It's the Wildcats looking like the Gophers this half, as they have no clue what to do against the Gopher zone, and Lawrence Westbrook hits another basket to tie it up 42-42. He's been on fire in the second half.
11:57 - Goldy gets a close up. Lavin calls him "lovable." Lavin is an idiot of the highest degree.
11:14 - Not only can NW not figure out the zone, but when they do get a good shot they brick it, as Coble misses an open jumper from the free throw line, and misses badly.
10:09 - Hey, the show a shot that some high school kid made at the buzzer lying on his ass. What? That was Hoffarber? No Way!! I've never seen that play every single time the Gophers are on TV.
8:45 - Northwestern hits a couple of shots as the Gophers are back in man-to-man, despite the zone's success. Why? I have no clue, but they now lead 47-42 after DJ misses two free throws. I know, I was shocked too.
5:58 - More talking about the awesomeness of the Princeton offense. It's really boring.
4:22 - No Country for Old Men was pretty overrated. Also the Gophers just took the lead 48-47 on a Dan Coleman steal and dunk (?) Anyway, yeah, it wasn't bad, it just wasn't all that awesome. That bad guy in it though is pretty good.
3:53 - At the four minute timeout, Gophers lead 48-47. HEY COLEMAN AND MCKENZIE, IF YOU LOSE THIS GAME, IT WILL BE THE LAST ONE OF YOUR CAREERS. Try to act like leaders for the first time this year.
3:34 - So they go back to man, and of course, Westbrook loses his man on a back pick and he's open for a layup (well, he got fouled and missed it). I'd stay in the zone, seriously. I must be missing something, because I know damn well Tubby is smarter than me. Moore makes both, putting NW ahead by one.
3:12 - Hoff with a huge three pointer. Naturally, it was a freshman making the big shot, not a senior.
2:32 - A wide open three by Moore to give NW back the lead, still against the man. It's not working.
2:12 - Here comes the dumb stuff we've all come to know and love. Westbrook gets his shot blocked on a drive, which is fine, and then follows it up by committing a stupid frustration foul in the backcourt. This team is so god damn dumb.
1:35 - Gophers lead 53-52 after Hoff finds Coleman underneath in transition. Hoff looking very good in this game. Well, except on defense.
1:06 - same score, Gopher ball. Crunch time lineup - McKenzie, Westbrook, Nolen, Hoff, Coleman. I like it.
0:39 - McKenzie misses what would have been a huge three, but Hoff is there to grab the o-board. I'm going to assume that is his first o-board on the season. Westbrook misses the front end of a 1-and-1, McKenzie grabs a huge rebound, but then gets tied up because he ducked down waiting to get fouled instead of getting the ball out of there. Stupid stupid stupid play. Oh, and Northwestern ball.
0:3.9 - Huge steal by Coleman, and he's fouled. Excellent defense that whole last possession by the Gophers, even though they were still in man-to-man.
0:00 - DC makes them both, and Northwestern can't get a decent shot off, Gophers move on.
This is the slap in the face the Gophers needed to wake them up and get ready for their run to the BIG TEN TITLE. Next victim: Indiana. More like, GAY-Diana. Lawrence Westbrook is just getting better and better, and he's just getting started. Make your time, Hoosier queers.
Incidentally, the Sidler is Hoosier fan. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, if you were so inclined.