Minnesota snapped its first 14-game losing streak in nearly 30 years in a manner in keeping with the madness of the 2015-16 college basketball season: By beating sixth-ranked Maryland.
The Gophers, 0-13 in the Big Ten and 6-19 overall heading into the evening, led by as many as 12 in the second half before withstanding a late run from the Terrapins and walking away with a 68-63 victory. Sophomore guard Nate Mason scored 18 points to lead the upset.
Richard Pitino's team had lost by six points or fewer five times since Jan. 20, including three times against ranked opponents (Iowa, Purdue and Indiana). To finally get over the hump meant a lot to every Minnesota player, but especially for senior Joey King, who was literally brought to tears after the game.
The loss was the second straight for Maryland (22-5, 10-4), whose chances of winning the Big Ten's regular season title have taken a massive hit in the last five days. The Terps, who fell to Wisconsin on Saturday, had been 11-0 over the past two seasons in games immediately following a loss.
For fans of the Big Ten, Thursday night's game at The Barn immediately brought up memories of the most curious conference result from last season: Rutgers' 67-62 win over Wisconsin.
Adding to the comparisons are the facts that eventual national Player of the Year Frank Kaminsky did not play in that game against Rutgers, while Maryland was without its own big man Thursday night against Minnesota. Freshman Diamond Stone was suspended by coach Mark Turgeon for shoving the head of Wisconsin player Vitto Brown into the court.
If Maryland is looking for a silver lining heading into the weekend, that Wisconsin team went on to make it to the national championship. Rutgers, for what it's worth, has not won a Big Ten game since.
The story of the evening, though, was Minnesota, which finally gave its fans a reason to celebrate for the first time since Dec. 16.
The Gophers return to action next Tuesday when they host ... Rutgers.