For the second time in three years, the Minnesota men’s basketball team is headed to the Big Dance as the Gophers were awarded a bid to the 2019 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.
Minnesota (21-13) earned the No. 10 seed and will face seventh-seeded Louisville in the first round on Thursday at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa. The game will tip off at 11:15 a.m. CT, with CBS broadcasting the game.
This is the 11th NCAA Tournament appearance in program history and second under head coach Richard Pitino. Minnesota finished the year with a flourish, winning four of its last six games including a pair of victories at the Big Ten Tournament in Chicago this week. Powering the Gophers this season has been a pair of All-Big Ten selections in senior Jordan Murphy (first team – media; second team – coaches) and junior Amir Coffey (third team). Murphy, who is the program’s all-time leading rebounder and ranks third in career scoring, is second and fifth nationally in double-doubles (22) and rebounds (11.5 rpg), respectively. Coffey leads the team and ranks seventh among Big Ten players scoring 16.3 points per game.
Six members of this year’s Gopher team will be making their return to the NCAA Tournament as seniors Murphy and Dupree McBrayer, juniors Coffey, Michael Hurt and Brady Rudrud, and redshirt sophomore Eric Curry all were on the roster two years ago. Minnesota earned its highest seed in school history and fell to Middle Tennessee in Milwaukee.
This is the seventh time that the Cardinals and Gophers have met, the most recent coming in 2014. Minnesota was defeated by Louisville, 81-68, in the ESPN Armed Forces Classic in Borinquen, Puerto Rico. Thursday’s matchup will be the fourth neutral site meeting, and the third time in the NCAA Tournament (1982, 1993), the latter which was later vacated. Louisville finished the season with a 20-13 record, finishing sixth in the Atlantic Coast Conference with a 10-8 record.
MNN Sports Director Mike Grimm sat down with Gopher star forward Jordan Murphy to discuss the big day:
(info and photo courtesy of Gopher Sports)