What to Expect: Minnesota

  • 01/11/2012 10:24 am in

The Hoosiers, ranked in the top ten of both polls for the first time since January of 2008, return to Assembly Hall on Thursday night for a meeting with Minnesota. The Golden Gophers (through Tuesday’s games) are one of two Big Ten teams still without a conference win.

The game will be shown on BTN (Gus Johnson and Jim Jackson) and broadcast on the IU radio network (Sirius 128/XM 191):

With the exception of a neutral court whipping at the hands of Dayton on Nov. 27, Minnesota took care of business in the non-conference portion of its schedule. The loss to Dayton in the Old Spice Challenge, however, dramatically altered the course of the Golden Gophers’ season. Trevor Mbakwe went down with a right knee injury early in the second half of that game. And with that devastating injury, hopes of a return to the NCAA Tournament essentially vanished.

To their credit, Tubby Smith’s club responded with six straight wins after losing Mbakwe, which included a narrow 58-55 home win over Virginia Tech in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. But a tough double overtime loss in Champaign on Dec. 27 was the beginning of a four-game conference skid that Minnesota will bring to Bloomington on Thursday.

Their latest effort, a 79-66 loss to Purdue at the Barn on Sunday, saw the Gophers get torched from behind the 3-point line. The Boilermakers hit 10 of their 15 attempts from distance. With three of their next four games on the road, things could get ugly quickly for the Golden Gophers.

MEET THE GOPHERS

The unfortunate loss of Mbawke has shifted a heavier burden on offense to junior forwards Rodney Williams and Julian Welch. Williams, a talented but often inconsistent threat in the past, is hitting close to 63 percent of his 2s this season. Williams has been effective since shifting to the 4 and his offensive rebounding percentage, block percentage and steal percentage are all up over last season. Welch, a transfer from Yuba Community College (Calif.), is Minnesota’s most reliable perimeter threat (19-of-46) and his assist rate (21.7) is among the top 15 in the league.

Ralph Sampson III is also back for the Gophers after flirting with entering the NBA Draft last spring. The 6-foot-11 senior is actually blocking fewer shots than Williams and his other numbers (8.8 ppg, 4.9 rpg) are disappointing for a player with his size and experience.

Three other Gophers to watch include sophomore guard Austin Hollins, freshman guard Andre Hollins and sophomore guard Maverick Ahanmisi. The elder Hollins has been ineffective from 3-point range (18-of-57), but is counted on more for his defense. Andre Hollins has also struggled thus far offensively, but did score in double figures in three of first six games. And Ahanmisi, who is counted on more as a distributor than a scorer, has improved his assist rate while lowering his turnover rate.

THE POMEROY BREAKDOWN

Minnesota’s defense, particularly on the perimeter, has not been good. Opponents are shooting 37.5 percent against the Gophers from 3 and the distribution of points coming from behind the arc (31.9 percent) is in the top 60 nationally. They’re certainly not Penn State bad in terms of giving up the 3, but given how well the Hoosiers are shooting, it could be another efficient night from distance.

And if the Hoosiers aren’t hitting from the outside, Minnesota’s suspect work on the defensive glass (32.4 DR%) could allow for some second-chance points. On the plus side for the Gophers, their block rate (16.2 percent) and steal rate (13.6) are both among the top 11 nationally.

Minnesota’s offensive scheme is primarily based on shooting a high percentage on 2s (51.9 percent) and attempting to pound the offensive glass (37.1 OR%). The Hoosiers have continued to improve their defensive rebounding numbers, but they’ve still got a ways to go and the size of Sampson and athleticism of Williams could present problems. Indiana’s defensive numbers at-large are still much improved over last season, but they’ll enter Thursday night giving up 1.11 points per possession, which is the highest mark in the Big Ten. Given the level of competition through the first four league games, perhaps this game will afford us a chance to learn whether the Hoosiers can begin to shore things up against an inferior team.

Ken Pomeroy likes Indiana by 15 with a 89% chance of victory and a final score prediction of 79-64.

QUICK FACTS ON MINNESOTA

All-time series: Indiana leads 93-65
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Student Enrollment: 52,557
Established: 1851

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  • Anonymous

    Given Ralph Sampson’s surprisingly limited defensive effectiveness, coupled with iCwat most likely drawing the matchup with Williams, i’d love to pick Cody for this games “pick to click” (plus, IU Jeff’s crystal ball guaranteed a breakout double-double from Zeller). But i think i’ll have to go with Watford again…he’s too much a weapon in the paint (getting the the stripe) or from beyond the arc. I know we’re not posting that stuff here yet…just curious about other poster’s logic…. what say ye?

  • Anonymous

    Given Ralph Sampson’s surprisingly limited defensive effectiveness, coupled with iCwat most likely drawing the matchup with Williams, i’d love to pick Cody for this games “pick to click” (plus, IU Jeff’s crystal ball guaranteed a breakout double-double from Zeller). But i think i’ll have to go with Watford again…he’s too much a weapon in the paint (getting the the stripe) or from beyond the arc. I know we’re not posting that stuff here yet…just curious about other poster’s logic…. what say ye?

  • HoosierDadE

    Well you can’t teach length but even with that it seems like Ralph Sampson (shutter, it is even difficult to type that name) has regressed.  I expect Cody to have a “workman like” game running up and down the court against Ralph the III…

    Side note…Matty Roth, you have earned it.  Come in shooting, I don’t care if the first time you touch the ball is at halfcourt…GREEN LIGHT!

  • Anonymous

    “Their latest effort…saw the Gophers get torched from behind the 3-point line.”  That’s got to be like a shark smelling blood in the water to our shooters.

    I’m also excited to see Zeller play against someone big enough to (theoretically) be asked to play him straight up instead of all the sagging and double-teaming he usually endures.

  • Anonymous

    I hope Matt Roth continues to see quality minutes.  It would also be nice to see WS get 6-8 minutes in this game if he can go.

  • JerryCT

    For the first time in the CTC era we get a chance to see if we can handle success. This game , right before OSU this weekend , may be a tough grind for us although I expect a win.

    If I were them I would really pressure Hulls with and without the ball. Maybe even put Williams on him when a stop is needed. If they do this we need to get VO, VJ3, MR, RA to handle the ball …………… then anything could happen.

    Since Pritchard has always badly outplayed Sampson & Iverson is past seasons I expect Cody to have a nice night

  • CreamandCrimson

    Time to take care of business.  Get a lead in the first half, build it in the second half and when we have them down by 10 or 11…put the foot on the throttle, extend the lead and put them away. 

    Minnesota is a good matchup for us.  This will be another tough test for Watford but we have seen what he is capable of against other good 4’s and I expect a similar performance tomorrow night.  They don’t really have a guard likely to burn us with dribble penetration or perimeter shooting.  Obviously, Zeller vs. Sampson is interesting, I expect to Zeller to run him and get him in foul trouble with his activity. 

    A big question for me is whether or not we get consistency from Hulls and Roth.  They were awesome at PSU, can they keep it going heading into Columbus?  I think at least one of them does.  Another interesting sidenote, Will Sheehey is close to coming back.  Does he play against Minnesota?  I think he gets some minutes.  If he comes back and can be 100%, his injury has strengthened our depth by giving Remy and Roth some valuable PT.  I think we win this one by around 10-12.  Life on the road in the Big Ten is tough and no place is tougher than the Hall. 

  • CreamandCrimson

    Time to take care of business.  Get a lead in the first half, build it in the second half and when we have them down by 10 or 11…put the foot on the throttle, extend the lead and put them away. 

    Minnesota is a good matchup for us.  This will be another tough test for Watford but we have seen what he is capable of against other good 4’s and I expect a similar performance tomorrow night.  They don’t really have a guard likely to burn us with dribble penetration or perimeter shooting.  Obviously, Zeller vs. Sampson is interesting, I expect to Zeller to run him and get him in foul trouble with his activity. 

    A big question for me is whether or not we get consistency from Hulls and Roth.  They were awesome at PSU, can they keep it going heading into Columbus?  I think at least one of them does.  Another interesting sidenote, Will Sheehey is close to coming back.  Does he play against Minnesota?  I think he gets some minutes.  If he comes back and can be 100%, his injury has strengthened our depth by giving Remy and Roth some valuable PT.  I think we win this one by around 10-12.  Life on the road in the Big Ten is tough and no place is tougher than the Hall. 

  • Anonymous

    I agree that their best shot is to press and try to make Hulls and Jones turn it over.  IU has been a tough match-up for them for the past couple of years and even more so this year. 

  • Anonymous

    Are these KenPom rankings for conference play? I’m curious to know what that looks like compared to the overall season.

  • MillaRed

    Pretty sure it’s for the overall season.

    I think Minny will come in here and feel pretty intimidated. The teams are heading in different directions. Not sure how they can keep up with us offensively. Hoosiers by 15.

    Did anyone see the pre-game line-up pics for the Iowa-MSU game? They had Jordy’s picture on there for Roy Marble. There was a slight resemblance. Well, except Jordy’s white. Big Ten Network still has issues to deal with.

  • MillaRed

    Pretty sure it’s for the overall season.

    I think Minny will come in here and feel pretty intimidated. The teams are heading in different directions. Not sure how they can keep up with us offensively. Hoosiers by 15.

    Did anyone see the pre-game line-up pics for the Iowa-MSU game? They had Jordy’s picture on there for Roy Marble. There was a slight resemblance. Well, except Jordy’s white. Big Ten Network still has issues to deal with.

  • The_Real_Assembly_Hall

    Other than senior day….Would there be a better time to give Roth a start during his senior season?  Not that it is a gamble, but I would like to see him rewarded and to get the nod starting tomorrow night.  Roth could get another shot in the arm and get some looks early and probably knock a few down.  In reality, VO could use a small little tug on the reigns, and also give him the chance to come off the bench with some energy and be the spark he is without the pressure of producing right from the tip.  If we have missed anything since Will has been out, it is the energetic lifting spark off the bench.  Maybe this combination would be a good mix tomorrow night against the Golden Gophers, and give us a chance to pay some debt to Roth (for last Sunday at Penn State, and the last 3 years) and learn a few things at the same time.  

    I hope Will can go for 5-8 minutes. If he can’t then I hope it is because we are saving him or not risking him for Sunday.

  • The_Real_Assembly_Hall

    Glance at my post. I made it before I read yours.  I agree with you completely. 

  • Anonymous

    Assembly Hall will erupt if Will steps onto the floor and that would be great.  CTC’s tweets still say “getting closer” so I’m thinking he won’t be playing for this game.   

  • InTheMtns

    It will be great if Will can play in this game – chance to shake off the rust and regain some conditioning and timing before OSU. If he’s not yet ready, then best wishes for a full recovery in the near future. We’ll certainly need him down the stretch.

  • Anonymous

    Well said……it would love to see Roth get a start as well.

  • Anonymous

    Understand your thinking but I’m not sure any coach would mess with the starting line-up with the current win-loss record!

  • Anonymous

    Should be an IU win but can’t under estimate a Tubby team. They usually play good D. Rod williams is the real deal..expect VO to take him? ILL sure surprised last night reminding all of us who are not B. Weber fans that the orange are 15-3 and not getting much love from anybody.

  • The_Real_Assembly_Hall

    Even just a tiny little pat on the back tweak? I understand though. Starting to make the turn for the home stretch. Man is it time to do that already? This season has been a blast.

  • Anonymous

    Roth doesn’t need a start. IU needs his shooting threat coming off the bench as a spark.

  • Anonymous

    Roth doesn’t need a start. IU needs his shooting threat coming off the bench as a spark.

  • heinsohn

    Love these articles on Pomeroy ratings.Thanks Alex.If the purpose of writing these columns is to entertain and educate.these do both and always give me pause….

  • I’m predicting a Taylor Wayer putback Jam from free throw line tonight, off a VJIII miss…. Hey…. It’s Minnesota, anything could happen.