Minnesota Basketball: Will Indiana Win Get Tubby Smith and the Gophers Rolling?

Chris SchadContributor IIIFebruary 26, 2013

Feb 26, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA;  Minnesota Gophers guard Joe Coleman (11) and forward Rodney Williams Jr. (33) and forward Trevor Mbakwe (32) and the team celebrate the win over the Indiana Hoosiers at Williams Arena.  The Gophers defeated number one ranked Hoosiers 77-73.  Mandatory Credit: Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY Sports

On Tuesday night, Williams Arena shook like it was 1996.

Sure, the NCAA has made the Minnesota Golden Gopher Men's Basketball team vacate that season that ended with a Final Four loss to Kentucky, but the memories of how the ancient arena seemed magical that year are still ingrained in the memories of the maroon and gold.

The 77-73 victory over Indiana was the first victory over a top-ranked team since 1989, but it had to be the most exciting game since Bobby Jackson and Sam Jacobson was rocking The Barn that magical season.

The magic was needed, as the Gophers had lost four of their last five games, failing to top 55 points in any of them.

In the tough Big Ten, such a run could happen to anyone. However, the fashion in which the Gophers had hit that stretch has been what has had fans calling for Tubby Smith's firing.

But the win over the Hoosiers gives the Gophers new life, and they'll need it heading down the stretch of the Big Ten season.

While the Gophers went a long way in securing their NCAA tournament berth on Tuesday, they'll need similar strong showings against Penn State, Nebraska, and Purdue to assure the third postseason appearance in Smith's tenure.

What the Gophers have going for them is that two of these three games (Penn State March 2 and Purdue March 9) will be played at The Barn.

There have been plenty of soft games on the Gopher home schedule, but they've blazed a 14-2 record at Williams Arena which is impressive no matter who they are playing. Just ask Indiana.

There is also a potential trap game against Nebraska, but the Gophers handled them easily in an 84-65 win on January 29.

A 3-0 record down the stretch would give the Gophers a 10-8 record in the tough Big Ten conference, and momentum heading into the Big Ten tournament.

Three more conference wins should send the Gophers to the Big Dance for the first time since 2010 as well.

In the non-conference portion of the schedule, Minnesota played like they did against Indiana on Tuesday night.

They enforced their style of play, beating the opponent down the court before they can get set up in the dreaded zone defense. They also played solid defense which allowed them to hang tough with ranked teams such as Duke and Memphis.

The Gophers need to carry this momentum throughout the rest of the season if they want to get to the NCAA tournament and give the program it's first official tournament victory since 1990.