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Gophers face Spartans in second round of NCAA Tournament

Minnesota looks for postseason win against Big 10 rival on Saturday night.
Credit: AP
Minnesota's Jordan Murphy (3) shoots over Louisville's Jordan Nwora (33) during the second half of a first round men's college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament in Des Moines, Iowa, Thursday, March 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

DES MOINES, Iowa — Update: Michigan State defeated Minnesota 70-50 and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen.

After notching just the program’s second official NCAA Tournament win since 1990, the Golden Gophers men's basketball team now tries to extend its stay in the Big Dance.

The task will be tough. Staring them down is the number 2 seed in the regional, the Michigan State Spartans.

So far in the tournament, Big Ten teams have been having a good deal of success. Now though, they’ll be squaring off against one another. Actually it’s quite rare two schools from the same conference meet up this early in the tourney. As a matter of fact it’s the first time since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985 that a pair of Big Ten teams have played one another in the second round.

The Gophers played a very effective first round game against Louisville. Most notable was the way they shot the ball from the three point line. Minnesota was 11 for 27 behind the arc in the win over the Cards, although it remains to be seen whether it’s a trend that will continue.  

The Gophers have faced the Spartans once before this season. It was a little over a month ago in East Lansing, a game Michigan State won easily by two dozen points.

Underdogs is a role the Gophers have been accustomed to though. They seem to almost relish it. They are again now and likely will be from here on out.  But if there’s anything this crazy tournament has shown us over the years is that strange things can happen and often do happen.