Players from the Gophers men's basketball team didn't even bother to gather together to watch Sunday's NCAA tournament selection show. In their hearts, they seemingly knew that they wouldn't hear their names called. Minnesota coach Richard Pitino said that he felt his team had a 40 percent chance of making the Big Dance. Turns out his premonition was right. Too many missed opportunities. Too many "what-ifs" throughout the Big Ten schedule for the Gophers, whose season lives on through the National Invitation Tournament. "We had a lot of opportunities to take matters into our own hands, and we didn't do it," Pitino said Monday, one day before his team prepared for its first NIT game. Instead of playing in the NCAA tournament, Pitino's Gophers landed a No. 1 seed in the NIT and will host High Point on Tuesday at Williams Arena. There was no doubt a sense of disappointment Monday when Pitino, senior Austin Hollins and sophomore Joey King addressed the media to talk about the upcoming game. After all, making the NIT was not exactly the goal at the start of the season. Making things tougher to swallow were all the close losses that could have possibly lifted Minnesota into the NCAA tournament. The Gophers lost by three to Michigan, missed a pair of layups in the final seconds at home against Northwestern, and nearly upset Michigan State on the road before falling in overtime. "The past is the past," King said. "Everyone wants one back. Certainly a disappointment, a couple games this year. But you can't go back." Instead, the Gophers are looking forward and hope to make the most of the opportunity in front of them. Minnesota will host at least one NIT game, possibly more. The Gophers still have the chance to practice together and build chemistry heading into next season.
Gophers regroup, turn attention to NIT foe High Point
Fox Sports North | Mar 18