The 16th ranked Gopher men's basketball team defeated Northwestern 81-70 Wednesday night to improve to 16-4 overall and 5-3 in the Big Ten.  The win is the 4th straight for the Gophers.  Minnesota played without point guard Al Nolen, who is out with a broken bone in his foot.  He had surgery Wednesday and is expected to be out 4-6 weeks.  Minnesota was led by Blake Hoffarber with 20 points and Trevor Mbakwe added 18 points and 14 rebounds.  The Gophers shot 53 percent while Northwestern shot 37 percent.  Minnesota will play at #12 Purdue Saturday at noon, pregame on WJON at 11:30.