Indiana had just affirmed its No. 1 ranking, and within hours the Hoosiers found themselves once again the victim of an in-conference upset.
Trevor Mbakwe led Minnesota to a 77-73 upset of Indiana on Tuesday in a game in which the Gophers proved too physical for the Hoosiers.
After suffering two straight blowout losses, the win was just what the Gophers needed, and Minnesota coach Tom Crean gave much of the credit to Mbakwe.
“He’s a high-level, high-energy tough guy playing at a desperate level,” Crean said. “That’s a grown man, he’s one of the best rebounders in the country. He was the toughest guy on the court tonight.”
At 19-9, Minnesota was given the signature win it needed to boost its tournament resume, and Indiana was dealt another loss to an in-conference opponent. The Hoosiers were also upset by Illinois earlier this year on a basket with 0.9 seconds remaining.
“We’re trying to do big things so we have to learn from this mistake, but we have to dust it off real fast,” Hoosiers star Victor Oladipo said, via ESPN.
In the upset on Tuesday, the Gophers outmuscled the Hoosiers, outrebounding them 44-30.
“We weren’t physical enough on the glass. That’s the bottom line,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said.
As the game ended Minnesota fans stormed the court and the Hoosiers were sent back home to regroup. Despite the upset, No. 1 Indiana could still win the team’s first outright Big Ten regular season championship. The Hoosiers have a one-game edge over Michigan State, Michigan, and Wisconsin in the standings.
The loss comes as part of what has been a wide-open year for college basketball. No. 1 Indiana’s upset marked the seventh time a team ranked No. 1 in the AP poll has lost this season, though until Tuesday’s loss there had been more stability at the top. Monday’s AP Poll had Indiana in the No. 1 slot for the fourth consecutive week.