MILWAUKEE, Wis. - The five-seeded Gophers are getting ready to play Middle Tennessee in Milwaukee on Thursday.
The Gophers are one of the most inexperienced teams playing the NCAA Tournament. The only player on the team who has ever played in a tournament game is senior guard Akeem Springs, and he's out with an Achilles injury.
But while Springs may not be able to play, he's still a leader on the team both on the court and in the locker room.
"For me, what I can do is just figure out a way to help my team and I'll just keep being a vocal leader, keep being a guy that talks to them on defense, that's big on communication on offense and defense," Springs said. "So for me, dealing with it was put your focus onto something else. So my focus right now is to help them in any way possible."
Sophomore forward Jordan Murphy said Springs brings a maturity to the team.
"He's always gonna be a great leader for this team, I mean, as the season goes on, he's been a really, really good presence for us," said sophomore forward Jordan Murphy. "He's the only one that's been here before."
Many of the starters will be called upon even more now. In particular, freshman Michael Hurt from Rochester has played sparingly this season, but he will be expected to step up.
"I think I'm ready," Hurt said. "Playing against Reggie and Nate and Amir all year in practice, they're obviously some of the best players in the conference. So I think that they've prepared me and a lot of my other teammates for tomorrow."