Andy Greder / St. Paul Pioneer Press
MINNEAPOLIS — Like the Gophers men’s basketball team, the Big Ten Conference was way, way down last season. With the Gophers as one of its biggest disappointments, the Big Ten had only four teams advance to the NCAA tournament a year ago — its fewest bids since 2008. On the flip side with Minnesota’s 6-1 start through November, the Big Ten is way, way up so far this season.
MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota Gophers men’s basketball coach Richard Pitino gave himself the worst grade possible after Minnesota’s 68-56 loss to Boston College on Monday, Nov. 26. “Coaching: F,” Pitino wrote on his blog. After starting 5-0, the Gophers tried to shoot 3-pointers over the Eagles’ zone defense, and when they weren’t falling (5 for 30 on the night), Minnesota didn’t adjust and attack the rim.
MINNEAPOLIS -- Dan Gavitt’s first in-person Final Four turned out to be historic: Magic versus Bird. The 1979 NCAA championship game marked the beginning of what became a legendary NBA rivalry as Magic Johnson’s Michigan State team beat Larry Bird’s Indiana State squad, 75-64, in Salt Lake City. Given Gavitt’s current job — the NCAA’s senior vice president of basketball — that iconic title game serves as a timepiece for another reason. It was held at the University of Utah’s 15,000-seat Jon M. Huntsman Center, so the set-up was easy.
PAUL -- Minnesota United declined contract options on nine players from this year’s team on Monday, Nov. 26, opening up roster spots and creating more salary flexibility to add new players before a critical 2019 season opens at Allianz Field in St.
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Gophers volleyball team won't have to leave Minneapolis for the duration of the NCAA tournament. That's what the No. 2 overall seed earned Minnesota on Sunday, Nov. 25. The Gophers open the 64-team, single-elimination tournament on Friday, Nov. 23, by hosting the opening two rounds at Maturi Pavilion. With two victories, the Gophers will host the four-team regional tournament on Dec. 7-8, also at Maturi Pavilion. Two more wins in the regional puts Minnesota in the Final Four on Dec. 13-15 at Target Center.
Minnesota Gopher football players were instructed to close their eyes at one point last week and visualize what they could accomplish in Saturday’s game against Wisconsin at Camp Randall Stadium. Coach P.J. Fleck had his players use their imagination to see how they could end a 14-game losing streak to the Badgers since 2004 as well as a 11-game road skid in Madison since 1994.
MADISON, Wis. — The Wisconsin Badgers tweeted a hype video Tuesday, Nov. 20, that doubles as a horror film for the Gophers. Ahead of the battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe at Camp Randall Stadium on Saturday, a montage of Badgers players shared how only seniors touch the six-foot-long axe after wins, and they paid tribute to the players who “made the streak,” which stands at 14 consecutive wins for Wisconsin since 2003. Badgers post hype video before Gophers game
MINNEAPOLIS -- When Gophers backup center Matz Stockman split two Texas A&M defenders for a powerful dunk in Minnesota’s 69-64 victory over the Aggies on Sunday, Nov. 18, in the Vancouver Showcase, it was something his teammates had seen before. But only a few times. When the 7-foot senior from Oslo, Norway, dunked during a Gophers practice last week, well, that did catch people in the program off guard. “Everybody was kind of surprised because Matz doesn’t have that personality,” coach Richard Pitino said Friday.
MINNEAPOLIS -- Could this — finally — be the year the Gophers beat the Badgers in the battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe? Minnesota has lost 14 consecutive football games to Wisconsin since 2003 and 11 in a row in Madison since 1994. The memories of past Gophers wins have faded — if they ever existed for some. “For me, I can’t even remember the Gophers ever having it,” said Gophers senior linebacker Blake Cashman, from Eden Prairie, Minn., who was 7 years old in 2003.
MINNEAPOLIS — Blake Cashman wasn’t done. The Gophers linebacker had just posted 20 tackles — a TCF Bank Stadium record for a Minnesota player — when he sought out fellow seniors on the field after Northwestern’s 24-14 win Saturday, Nov. 17. With linebacker Julian Huff, defensive tackle Gary Moore and long snapper Payton Jordahl, Cashman savored the fleeting moments after his last home game on Senior Day.