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2011 Big Ten Tournament Bracket Preview: Minnesota Golden Gophers

Minnesota Golden GophersFinal Record: 17-13 (6-12); #9 Seed In Big Ten Tournament

It's hard to believe how much has changed since the Minnesota Golden Gophers took down the North Carolina Tarheels on Nov. 19. Once a lock for the Big Dance and ranked inside the top 25 in the nation, Minnesota has suffered a meteoric crash. The Golden Gophers now stand at 6-12 within the conference and 17-13 overall as they are set to face the Northwestern Wildcats in round one of the Big Ten Tournament. 

Minnesota is led by Trevor Mbakwe, the team's leading scorer averaging 13.7 points per game. Mbakwe was named to the second team all-Big Ten by coaches and media on Monday. Mbakwe leads the Big Ten in rebounding, pulling down 10.5 boards per game. 

Minnesota has two quality wins on its resumé (72-67 over UNC and 70-67 over Purdue Boilermakers), but 5 straight conference losses to close out the season emphatically shut the door on any remaining NCAA at-large hopes. An at-large bid to the NCAA tournament is out of the question and Minnesota will be relying on some of their early season magic to make a deep run into the Big Ten Tournament. Minnesota and Northeastern split the season series and will face off Thursday, March 10th at 2:30 PM ET in Indianapolis. 

Photographs by spatulated, Triple Tri, and chrischappelear used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.