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NIT Championship 2012: Stanford Cardinal To Face Minnesota Gophers On Thursday

The Stanford Cardinal may not have achieved their goal of an NCAA Tournament bid, but the team has played their best basketball in recent weeks and is now just one game away from the 2012 NIT championship. Given the youth on this Cardinal team, winning the NIT is nothing to sneeze at and the tournament has served as valuable experience for the club moving forward.

After Stanford knocked off Massachusetts on Tuesday night, the Minnesota Golden Gophers won a thriller in overtime against the Washington Huskies. The Cardinal will play the Gophers on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden, with ESPN airing the action.

As for Minnesota, they went 19-12 in the regular season and featured an unimpressive record in Big 10 play of 6-12. They have struggled to score the ball at times this season, although they play tough defense for all 40 minutes. Big man Trevor Mbakwe averages 14 points and nine rebounds a night, while forward Rodney Williams is the only other scorer to average double figures (11.2 PPG).

This is a winnable game for the Cardinal, but it will not come easy. Do not let the No. 6 seed next to Minnesota's name fool you; this is a solid team that is hungry to salvage a rough season.

For more on Stanford, head over to Rule Of Tree.