The Gophers lost in the first round of the NIT to Maryland, considered by most a mediocre — or worse — representative out of the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Terrapins had balanced scoring and they played solid defense, limiting Minnesota 31 percent shooting from the field and a woeful 8-of-32 night from 3-point range.
It was an early exit for Minnesota, which hoped to be playing in the bigger NCAA Tournament.
The Gophers had a number of chances. Road wins over UNLV or Florida State would have boosted their resume. And nail-biters against Michigan State on the road and Indiana at home could have easily gone their way. But they couldn't rack up the wins necessary to get into the Big Dance.
They had an emotional run in the Big Ten Tournament. A 16-point comeback in the first round against Northwestern was followed by a blown 16-point lead against Indiana in the second round that culminated with Blake Hoffarber's game winner as time expired.
Seniors Dan Coleman, Lawrence McKenzie and Spencer Tollackson all had played in the NCAA Tournament.
COACH: Tubby Smith, first year at Minnesota, 14 consecutive seasons in the NCAA Tournament until this season.
LAST POSTSEASON APPEARANCE: Second round, 2006 NIT, lost to Cincinnati 76-62.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I think we'll be ready to play." — Tubby Smith, Gophers head coach.
Minnesota 55, Northwestern 52
Minnesota 59, Indiana 58
Illinois 54, Minnesota 50
Maryland 68, Minnesota 58