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Bet on NCAABNorthwestern took on Minnesota this afternoon in Big 10 conference play at the Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Northwestern pulled out a win 75-65, and will now go on to play No. 1 Ohio State on Friday in the first game of the quarterfinals. This game ended Minnesota's fading hopes of making it to the NCAA tournament later this month.

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The Wildcats were lead by Michael Thompson, who set a tournament record by scoring 35 points. Drew Crawford put in another 15 points for Northwestern. Brian Cardinal of Purdue had the old record with 33 points.

Northwestern's 13-1 run in the middle of the second half sealed the game for them. The Gophers had no answer to Thompson's easy scoring. Minnesota was led by Trevor Mbakwe with 19 points. Ralph Sampson III had an additional 12 points. But it was not enough to get them through this first game, and the fact they lost 10 of their last 11 games means they won't be in the NCAA tournament this year, either.

This is the first year that the Gophers did not win a single conference game. They made it to the NCAA tournament in each of the last two years with Tubby Smith as head coach. The team had such a great early season record that they were ranked as high as No. 13 earlier this year, before going cold late in the season. The loss of their two point guards to transfer and injury left the team without an effective leader on the floor.

This marks Northwestern's sixth ever in the Big Ten Tournament. They had come into the game with the worst regular season record of the teams in the tournament. It is likely that the Wildcat's only hope of getting into the NCAA tournament is to win the Big Ten outright, which is very, very difficult to imagine.

 

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