INDIANAPOLIS – “The Barn” in Minneapolis is never an easy place to play, but for some reason, the Indiana Hoosiers have had their way there lately. IU won a 70-63 game in Williams Arena a year ago, Jan. 16 to be exact, as it was their second win in their last four trips to Minnesota. In fact, counting the two wins in Bloomington on Feb. 15, 2015 and Jan. 30, 2016, IU has won three straight games against the Golden Gophers.
Unfortunately for Indiana though, this isn’t the same Minnesota team that they’ve beaten up on recently. This Gophers team, is vastly improved, likely the most improved team in the entire Big 10 conference this season.
Minnesota, started the season 6-0 and went 12-1 in the non-conference portion of the schedule. They then lost to Michigan State at home in their Big 10 opener, but ended up winning three straight games after that though, two of which on the road at Purdue and at Northwestern. But, they lost five straight games after that and looked like all that early season success would be just a fluke. Instead of easing their way into the NCAA Tournament, Minnesota appeared to be playing their way to the NIT.
Instead of caving like IU has, the Gophers dug deep, became mentally tough enough to withstand the situation and found a will to win, as they’ve since won three straight, two of which on the road again. Now, here they are, hosting a reeling Indiana team that has lost five of their last six games and played themselves out of the NCAA Tournament and into the NIT. Unless Indiana can pick up a big road victory at Minnesota on Wednesday night (9 p.m. ET/BTN/93.1-WIBC FM), then they’re surely going to be NIT bound in March.
That’s why this game on Wednesday night features a contest between two teams going in polar opposite directions. Minnesota is on a nice win streak and rebounding their season while IU is on a dismal losing streak not being able to get out of their own way. The Gophers are also out for revenge for the last three defeats to Indiana and looking to get back to a way where they won eight of 12 matchups from 2008-2014.
Since 2000, both teams have won 15 games a piece against one another. Furthermore, since 1994, both are 19-19 against each other. The tiebreaker is Wednesday and I honestly don’t think it’s going to be even close.