Another downturn for Tubby Smith at Minnesota

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Tubby Smith appeared to have his Minnesota basketball team turned back in the right direction when the Golden Gophers beat visiting Wisconsin 58-53 in overtime last Thursday. The former UK head coach even did a dance after the win that went viral.

Turned out, Tubby danced a little too soon.

The Gophers have slipped right back into the same slump that followed a 15-1 start. Minnesota traveled to Iowa on Sunday where the Hawkeyes rolled to a 72-51 victory. Then Wednesday night, Minnesota collapsed in the second half in a 71-45 loss at Ohio State, their 17th loss in 21 February games over the past three years.

Eamonn Brennan wrote for ESPN, “Wednesday night’s 71-45 loss at Ohio State was every bit as bad as that score. Minnesota never looked engaged, let alone capable. And this is starting to become a pattern. The Gophers are 4-8 in their past 12 games, the only wins coming at Illinois (back on Jan. 9, when Illinois was playing terrible), at home vs. Nebraska and Iowa, and in overtime at home against Wisconsin last week.”

The Gophers are now 18-9 overall, 6-8 in the Big 10 and on the NCAA bubble. Remember, this is the same Minnesota team that was ranked in the Top 10 earlier in the year. Overall, Smith is 121-77 in six seasons as the Minnesota coach. He’s 44-60 in the Big 10 and he’s led the Gophers to just two NCAA berths. The last one was in 2009-10.

So, as you might guess, Smith’s seat is growing warm in cold Minneapolis. Never mind that one of his star players, Rodney Williams, played just eight minutes in Columbus because of a sore shoulder. Never mind that if Minnesota could find a way to beat No. 1-ranked Indiana next Tuesday, the Gophers could still finish 22-9 and probably make the Big Dance.

As for now, however, Tubby’s best dance might be his last.

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