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What happened to Gophers forward Josh Ola-Joseph?

Josh Ola-Joseph started 42 consecutive games for the Gophers men’s basketball team to finish last season and start this season.

But over the past 10 games this year, the sophomore forward has barely seen the court.

Head coach Ben Johnson said Ola-Joseph had a headache at halftime of the 70-58 loss to Indiana on Wednesday, putting him back in concussion protocol.

“That’s why we couldn’t go to him,” Johnson explained.

The Gophers had only six players take the court for extensive minutes in the lethargic loss to the Hoosiers. Four starters — Elijah Hawkins, Mike Mitchell Jr., Cam Christie and Dawson Garcia — each played at least 38 minutes midweek and will be counted on again in the regular-season finale at Northwestern at 8 p.m. Saturday.

Ola-Joseph has played less than 10 minutes over the past 10 games.

“It’s more of, (we) only got so many minutes and I think Parker (Fox) has been playing really well,” Johnson said. “It’s hard when Parker (and) Dawson at that (power forward) spot are playing well. We’ve looked at (Ola-Joseph) as playing (there), so when those guys are rolling, you have to make a decision as a coach on what you want to do. It’s a numbers game. That’s it more than anything.”

Guard Braeden Carrington (concussion) missed a second consecutive game Wednesday, but he might be able to return Saturday. If he comes back, that would help ease the minute load for the starting trio of guards.

Expanding NCAA field?

The Athletic reported this week that the NCAA tournament might expand from 68 to possibly 72 or 76 teams in the near future. Johnson would be on board with that.

“I like it,” he said Tuesday. “I just think we expanded everything else. You look at conference realignment now. We are going to have a monster league (in the Big Ten next season). When you are eliminating a conference (the Pac-12) that is a Power 5 conference, I don’t know how you don’t expand it.

“It is entertainment,” he added. “And I don’t see how adding more games and causing more entertainment is a bad thing.”

While some playoff formats in other sports have watered down the product with more than 50 percent of teams in the postseason, the NCAA tournament currently allows only 18.7 percent of Division I teams into the field.

Quick homecoming

The Gophers weren’t able to practice at Williams Arena before their trip to Northwestern, so they planned to get in a session Friday afternoon at Christie’s former high school in Arlington Heights, Ill.

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