Golden Gophers gearing up for potential Big Ten-heavy March Madness


Ethan Olson, Editor

As the college basketball season comes down to the final stretch, the Golden Gophers have a decent shot to make the March Madness basketball tournament. Sitting at 12-10 at the time of writing, the Gophers are also sitting in the middle of the pack in the Big Ten with a 6-6 record. However, they’ve added some big wins against Michigan, Penn State, Wisconsin and twice against Ohio State. This could be enough to send a team to March Madness but Minnesota also has eight more games left in the season to prove their worth.

This Minnesota roster also boasts a couple of players having excellent seasons. Dan Oturu is having quite the season and has been arguably the best center in the Big Ten, maybe even overall. At the time of writing, Oturo’s second in points per game (PPG) with 19.6, while making 59% of his shots. Oturu has also been great on the defensive end of the floor, leading the Big Ten in rebounds per game (RPG) with 11.3. Oturu hasn’t stopped there either as he is second in blocks per game (BPG) with 2.6.

The other standout player for the Gophers this season is the sophomore guard, Marcus Carr. His standout stat is his 6.8 assists per game (APG), which is second in the Big Ten. However, Carr has had quite the all-around season as he averages 15.5 PPG and 5.7 RPG, as well as just under one steal per game (SPG). Other key players such as Gabe Kalscheur and Payton Willis also have given good efforts this season, but the problem with the team is its inconsistency. The longest win streak the Gophers have had this season is three, two of those games against non-conference teams. The team has also struggled mightily in their away games, going only 1-7.

However, one of the biggest positives this season is the unwavering support the fans bring to the home games at Williams Arena. Williams Arena is an excellent arena for the Gophers and every game looks and feels as full as it can be, especially against our rivals. In the Gophers recent 70-52 win against the Wisconsin Badgers, the atmosphere was electric. Yes, it helps when the team are draining threes left and right, but every time a shot was made for the Gophers, a gigantic roar would erupt from the crowd and Oturu would stare down the student section, raising the volume even more. The Gophers are currently 10-2 at home this season and have four more home games against Iowa, Indiana, Maryland and Nebraska. If Minnesota can keep this type of record at home, they will be a lock for the March Madness tournament.

According to John Gasaway of ESPN, the Golden Gophers seem to be a fringe team regarding the March Madness tournament, but he also has nine other Big Ten teams as locks to make the tournament. It seems as though the Gophers are looking like they have a good chance to make the end-of-the-season tournament but what’s going to happen if they don’t make the cut?

In the recruiting class for next year resides a four-star recruit by the name of Jamal Mashburn Jr. He is currently the 97th ranked player in the ESPN Top 100 for the class of 2020. He’s a point guard out of Miami, Florida and is the fourth ranked recruit coming out of that state. Minnesota beat out the likes of Auburn, California, Georgetown and Saint Louis for his commitment. Mashburn Jr. will definitely complement the current Gopher squad very well.

The future is looking nice for those in maroon and gold. Look for the likes of Oturu and Carr in March Madness later this year because they will showcase what they can do on a national stage. Even if they are knocked out in the early stages, things are looking up for the Gophers.