Over the weekend, the 8th ranked Minnesota Gophers basketball team put up a stinker of a first half in Bloomington, Indiana. Well, that’s how the score looked, Anyways, as the Indiana Hoosers went into the half with a 52-29 lead, but the truth was, everything was falling for the Hoosiers, including from behind the arc, where Indiana hit about 2/3rds of their shots.
In the second half, on the road against one of the top teams in the land, Minnesota came storming back and were within 3 at one point, before typical end of game hijinks, with fouling and quick possessions took over and the Hoosiers ended up losing by 7. There was some happiness among the fans at the result, and some labeling it as a moral victory. Still others mocked Minnesota and the joy Minnesotans took at the moral victory, indicating that it reflected how bad sports are in the North Star State.
But this wasn’t a moral victory. Moral victories occur when a team is getting blown out and scores a point or two late. A team with no chance hangs in longer than they should. This wasn’t that. This was a barometer.
The Gophers played the best team on the road, and despite looking as though they were going to be thoroughly embarrassed, they kept fighting for 40 minutes, and mounted an incredible comeback in a hostile environment against one of the best squads in the country. If anything, this showed that the Gophers belonged in the discussion of top teams in the nation. Not only are they physically gifted, but the comeback proves they are mentally tough and well coached. The game in Indiana was less a moral victory, and more proof that Minnesota is a force to be reckoned with this year.
Moral victories don’t raise expectations, but the game against Indiana did. Things are looking up for the Gophers. People thought Minnesota would be lucky to win 2 games out of their Illinois-Indiana-Michigan stretch. They won vs. Illinois, and played hard at Indiana. At this point, I expect Minnesota to beat Michigan.