Wednesday night’s Gophers-Hoosiers men’s basketball game might be reviewed as a de facto NCAA Tournament play-in game.
Going into the actual Big Ten game, Minnesota had slightly better projections for March Madness than the Hoosiers, with less than a month to go before it becomes real on Selection Sunday. It was two teams fighting to stay on on the positive side of the fringe.
The Hoosiers won 82-72 at Assembly Hall and will usurp the Gophers in the pecking order for an NCAA Tournament bid.
Hoosiers (11-10, 7-7 Big Ten) have won all six games against Minnesota head coach Richard Pitino in Bloomington since 2012.
Minnesota (13-9, 6-9), a seven-point underdog, fell to 0-8 on the road this season and remained the only team in the Big Ten without an away victory.
The Gophers went cold without a basket for nearly six minutes, while Hoosiers had an 18-2 run to put the game away. Minnesota had been able to drive to the basket for most of the game, but the conference’s worst 3-point shooting team missed four from deep during the lull.
Before the game, the Gophers announced starting guard Gable Kalscheur will be out indefinitely with a hand injury. But guard Jamal Mashburn Jr. made his first collegiate start and had a career-high 19 points.
That wasn’t the expected injury news from Minnesota’s roster: the focus was on center Liam Robbins, who was limited with an ankle injury in the loss at Maryland on Sunday. Robbins was able to start, but wasn’t able to take his regular load. He again got in foul trouble and finished with six points and two rebounds.
Hoosiers top post presence Trayce Jackson-Davis led all scorers with 20 points.
Minnesota's star Marcus Carr, who had struggled in previous road games, matched his season average with 19 points.
Minnesota took its largest lead at 45-39 with 17:19 left, but Indiana went on a 13-1 run for a 52-46 lead. The Hoosiers then went cold and Minnesota was able to tie the game at 53 with eight minutes left. The Hoosiers took over from there.
The Gophers led 37-35 at the half, an advantage they had in only two of the previous seven road defeats this season. They were up by five at Purdue on Jan. 30 and lost by 19; they were up by two at Rutgers on Feb. 4 and couldn’t convert late, falling by four.
Without Kalscheur, Tre Williams stepped up with nine first-half points, including three drives and a step-back 3-pointer. Other guards also stepped up: Carr led way with 11 and Mashburn had 10 points.