Minnesota Basketball
(Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

Minnesota Basketball started the season playing about as good as anyone could hope. In their first 15 games, they went 11-4, only falling to top-15 programs Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Iowa. The Golden Gophers have generally been a pretty feisty team in the Big Ten for the last few years, but they had only posted one positive conference record under Richard Pitino. With how the 2020-21 campaign started, it seemed like the tides were turning. Many 2021 NCAA Tournament projections had Minnesota Basketball as high as a No. 5 seed at some points during the year. At 11-4, I wrote about how the Golden Gophers could be a legitimate under-the-radar threat come March.

Then the wheels fell off.

Minnesota Basketball: The Collapse

Coming off an extremely impressive 18-point victory over then-No. 7 Michigan, Minnesota had their next matchup against Nebraska postponed. The team that came back to face Maryland on January 23 – despite being the exact same roster – played like a completely different side than the one that started the year.

The Golden Gophers lost three of their next five games. But that kind of thing happens over the course of a season. They still managed to pick up a ranked win over Purdue, so it seemed like whatever rough patch they were in wouldn’t last long. Nope.

Since the Purdue win on February 11, Minnesota has lost seven straight games. A 41-point performance from star guard Marcus Carr wasn’t enough to get the job done against Big Ten bottom-feeder Nebraska on February 27. The Golden Gophers have fallen below .500, and any hopes they had of receiving an at-large bid for the 2021 NCAA Tournament are dead and buried.

The collapse from Minnesota has been inexplicable. They looked like a surefire tournament team a few weeks ago. They’ve since showcased their utter inability to win a road game (0-10 on the road this season) and fallen to 13th of 14 teams in the Big Ten. You have to think head coach Richard Pitino is on the hot seat.

Minnesota Basketball will face off against Northwestern in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament on March 10 at 6:30 PM.

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