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Can Minnesota put together Sweet 16 run?
Posted By HOOPSWORLD On March 24, 2013 @ 4:00 pm In Wirenews | Comments Disabled
by Patrick Stevens, Special for USA TODAY Sports
Team of the day: Minnesota
Route to the Dance: At-large (Big Ten)
Credentials: 21-12 (8-10 Big Ten)
Signature win: The Golden Gophers nabbed some exceptional victories over the course of the regular season, though pretty much all of them came at home.
None was more impressive than an out-of-nowhere 77-73 defeat of Indiana on Feb. 26 that served as a reminder the Gophers still possess plenty of talent even though they lost 11 of 16 heading into Selection Sunday.
For the purposes of a step forward for the program, Friday’s 20-point evisceration of UCLA was also an achievement. It was Minnesota’s first NCAA tournament triumph since 1997, and the school’s first that wasn’t later vacated by the NCAA as part of an academic scandal since 1990.
Team strength: Hollins and Hollins, unrelated
Andre Hollins is a Memphis-area product who averages 14.3 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists and has started all but two games this season.
Austin Hollins is a Memphis-area product who averages 10.8 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.6 assists and has started every game this season.
The two aren’t related (though Austin Hollins’ dad is Memphis Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins), but their relative worth to the Golden Gophers is vast.
Both will find themselves tested Sunday by Florida’s stingy defense. And both will be relied upon heavily if Minnesota is to go from a free fall to the regional semifinals in a span of a week. Andre Hollins is coming off a stellar 28-point day (on 16 field goal attempts) against UCLA, lending some hope he can replicate the performance against the more defense-oriented Gators.
This team will remind you of: 2009 Arizona
Really, just go ahead and pick a fairly pedestrian high-major team that struggled down the stretch but figured things out at the right time.
In the case of ’09 Arizona, the Wildcats lost five of their last six, barely made the tournament as a No. 12 seed and then knocked off fifth-seeded Utah (and got some help when 13th-seeded Cleveland State throttled fourth-seeded Wake Forest) and made it to the Midwest regional.
Minnesota was never quite as questionable a selection as that Arizona team, largely because it turned … [For more on Cinderella Watch: Can Minnesota put together a Sweet 16 run?, click here.]
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