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NCAA Basketball Big 10 BasketballMinnesota Golden Gophers

Bubble Watch: Minnesota Has to Avoid Playing Role of the Spoiled

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

I have defended the Minnesota Golden Gophers to a level only comparable to Super Mario Brothers 3, Level 8-3. Really, I have actually defended Tubby Smith to the point of nausea. Regardless though, their loss to the Nebraska Cornhuskers was nothing short of disgusting.

A team on the bubble can ill-afford to lose to a team such as Nebraska and expect an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. What makes it even more frustrating is the fact that the Golden Gophers were essentially in the dance after upsetting the Indiana Hoosiers just two games prior.

However, Minnesota is still on the right side of the bubble — I think. They have beaten five ranked teams this year, and despite some bad losses, have as good a resume as any of the “Last Eight” fighting for a birth in the dance. Although the Golden Gophers need to tread lightly, a loss to the Purdue Boilermakers in their next game would prove detrimental to their dancing slippers’ health.

Purdue will certainly be looking to play the role of spoiler. It seems like they have already embraced playing the role considering they have beaten the Wisconsin Badgers and hung tough with the Michigan Wolverines. It doesn’t help that Minnesota has shown a propensity to play down to their level of competition either. Case in point: The aforementioned loss to the Cornhuskers.

All Minnesota has to do is take care of business on Saturday. While that might not seem like asking for much, the Golden Gophers are not a team known to take advantage of easy opportunities put ahead of them. Win and they’re in. Lose, then a long Big 10 Tournament road will be in their future.

Joe is a Senior Writer for Rant Sports. Follow Joe on Twitter @JosephNardone