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NCAA Basketball Big 10 BasketballMichigan WolverinesMinnesota Golden Gophers

Michigan vs. Minnesota: The Golden Gophers Can’t Finish Upset Bid

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Michigan Wolverines welcomed the Minnesota Golden Gophers to Ann Arbor on Saturday night, in a crucial game for both teams. The Wolverines entered the game looking to stay in contention for the Big Ten regular season title, while the Gophers were looking to get off the NCAA Tournament bubble with an upset win.

Gophers’ forward Mo Walker made a free throw to cut Michigan’s lead to 54-52 with over four minutes to go in the game, but guard Spike Albrecht led a 10-2 run from there that helped the Wolverines build a 10-point lead with a little over a minute left, and that was the final margin in their 66-56 victory.

Guard Nik Stauskas had 21 points (5-for-8 on three-pointers) with four assists and three rebounds to lead the way for the Wolverines, and Glenn Robinson III (12 points, four rebounds and three assists), Caris LeVert (13 points, five assists, three rebounds and two steals) and Albrecht (seven points, two assists and two rebounds) also made notable contributions.

Minnesota was led by the three guard attack of Austin Hollins (16 points, three rebounds and two steals), Andre Hollins (10 points and three assists) and Deandre Mathieu (nine points, seven rebounds, five assists and three steals), but the trio combined to go just 13-for-31 from the floor (4-for-13 from beyond the arc) as the Gophers made less than 46 percent of their shots as a team.

With Michigan State’s surprising loss to Illinois earlier on Saturday and their win, Michigan has clinched at least a share of their third straight regular season conference title. Saturday night’s loss leaves Minnesota with an 18-12 record (7-10 in the Big 10), and their chances to earn a NCAA Tournament bid look slim now. The Gophers already needed to end the regular season with a win over Penn State next Sunday in order to help solidify their tournament resume, even if they’d managed to beat Michigan, but now a deep run in the conference tournament may not even guarantee them a spot in the field of 68.

Brad Berreman is a Senior Writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24 or connect with him on Google +