MINNEAPOLIS From eighth in the country to the ninth seed in the Big Ten Tournament. Thats how far the Gophers basketball team has fallen this season.
When the conference tournament kicks off this Thursday, Minnesota will be the No. 9 seed against No. 8 Illinois quite the tumble from where the Gophers were earlier in the year. At one point, Tubby Smiths team was ranked in the Top Ten and looked poised to finish near the top of the Big Ten standings.
Following Saturdays loss to Nebraska in the regular-season finale, though, Minnesota finished 20-11 overall and just 8-10 in the Big Ten. The sub-.500 conference mark means that Smith has failed to finish with a winning Big Ten record in his six seasons with the Gophers.
Meanwhile, Illinois lost its final two regular-season Big Ten games to Iowa and Ohio State but finished with the same 8-10 conference mark as the Gophers. Since the Illini hold the tiebreaker over Minnesota, they were given the No. 8 seed while the Gophers wound up as t...