Gophers Draw Iowa State in NCAA Tournament Action

The Minnesota men's basketball team earned its first NCAA Tournament berth since 1999. The Gophers received a No. 8 seed and will face No. 9 Iowa State on Friday in the first round at Charlotte, N.C. Minnesota finished the regular season with a 21-10 record, while Iowa State went 18-11. The game times will be released on Monday.

Minnesota was assigned to the Syracuse Regional bracket where the top seed is North Carolina and the No. 2 is Connecticut. The winner of the Gophers-Cyclones first-round game will face either No. 1 seed North Carolina or the No. 16 Oakland/Alabama A&M winner. Other first-round games in the Gophers' bracket are No. 5 Villanova/No. 12 New Mexico and No. 4 Florida/No. 12 Ohio.

This is Minnesota's ninth appearance in the NCAA Tournament but four of those trips were later vacated due to student-athlete participation while ineligible because of NCAA violations. The Gophers' last official appearance was 1990, when they advanced to the Regional Final.

Minnesota is one of five Big Ten teams that earned NCAA invitations. Illinois was assigned the overall No. 1 seed in the Tournament while Michigan State (No. 5), Wisconsin (No. 6) and Iowa (No. 10) also earned bids. In addition to Illinois, North Carolina, Duke and Washington are No. 1 seeds.

Minnesota and Iowa State will meet for the first time since 1992. The Gophers lead the all-time series 17-9.

Iowa State has been a streaky team this season. The Cyclones started the season 8-2 but lost their next six games, including their first five Big 12 conference contests. They rebounded with seven consecutive wins, including wins over then #15 Oklahoma, at #18 Texas, #23 Texas Tech and at #2 Kansas. The Cyclones fell to Texas Tech and at home versus Nebraska to drop to 7-7 in the Big 12, but won their final two regular-season games against Missouri and Colorado. They defeated Baylor in the first round of the Big 12 tournament before losing to Texas Tech 64-56 in the second round.

Neither team is very deep. While the Gophers use am eight-man rotation, the Cyclones rely to just six players. They have three double-figure scorers ,led by sophomore Curtis Stinson. He is averaging 17.3 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game. Senior Jared Homan leads the Cyclones in rebounds (8.2) and averages 13.4 points. Sophomore guard Will Blalock paces the team in assists (4.9) and also averages 12.8 points and 3.1 rebounds per contest. Freshman Rashon Clark is averaging 6.8 points and 4.1 rebounds per game and senior Damion Staple is contributing 5.8 points and 4.7 caroms. Freshman Tasheed Carr is averaging 5.7 points and 2.3 rebounds off the bench.

The Cyclones are not a great shooting team, as they shot just 44.1% from the field (eighth in the Big 12), 69.1% from the line and 29.3% from beyond the arc (last in the conference).

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