If you haven’t noticed yet, the Big Ten is packed with as much parity as it’s had since expanding to 14 teams.
It’s a season where bottom-rung Rutgers can knock off Ohio State and Nebraska, Illinois can beat Minnesota by 27 points and lose to Iowa by 24 the next game, and a top-25 team like Indiana can lose five straight and suddenly be out of contention.
So it shouldn’t be surprising that the Gophers showed up at No. 5 Michigan and took them all the way to the buzzer. Two buzzers, in fact.
Let’s take a look at the dramatic way in which the Gophers lost before unpacking it a bit more.
— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) January 23, 2019
— Michigan On BTN (@MichiganOnBTN) January 23, 2019
Charles Matthews’ shot off Eric Curry’s block denied the Gophers a chance at their first-ever top-five win in a true road game — a possibility that seemed highly unlikely heading in. The Gophers laid an egg last Wednesday at Illinois, losing 95-68, and were 12.5-point underdogs at Michigan, who was seeking a bounce back after suffering its first loss of the year at Wisconsin.
But the Gophers closed the game on a 10-0 run before Matthews’ shot not only beat the game clock, but the shot clock as well. Officials underwent a lengthy review to determine whether the ball left Matthews’ hands before the shot clock expired, which it clearly did upon viewing slow motion replay. But did the shot clock start late?
Michigan’s possession began with 30.9 seconds on the clock, and the shot clock didn’t expire until there were 0.7 seconds on the game clock, implying a human error of 0.2 seconds.
The NCAA rulebook says officials have the ability to correct an “obvious mistake” when the shot clock starts late, but 0.2 seconds does not likely constitute an obvious error.
The game-winner came off an offensive rebound following a blocked layup attempt by Ignas Brazdeikis, who missed another layup on the previous possession to give Minnesota a chance to tie. With just over 30 seconds to go, Gabe Kalscheur rose up over Zavier Simpson to hit his second clutch 3-pointer of the season. He beat the buzzer against Washington in the Vancouver Showcase back in November to give the Gophers a big non-conference win.
This one brought Minnesota level with the Wolverines, similar to how Nate Mason nailed a 3 in Ann Arbor a year ago to force overtime.
— Minnesota on BTN (@MinnesotaOnBTN) January 23, 2019
The disappointment will surely linger for Minnesota after coping with its first single-digit loss of the year, but they also let Tuesday’s game slip away after leading by nine in the first half and three at halftime. The halftime edge quickly turned into a 13-point deficit as Minnesota went 6:45 without scoring.
The game closely resembled Minnesota’s earlier win at Wisconsin, where the Badgers shot poorly in the first half, only to explode out of the gate in the second half and nearly catch the Gophers. The difference in Ann Arbor was Minnesota didn’t have a large enough cushion, and they didn’t stop the bleeding until it was almost too late.
Credit the Gophers with getting clutch stops late — including on the last possession. But a serendipitous tip and an extra tenth of a second cost the Maroon and Gold a shot at their most illustrious win of the season.
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