What to Expect: Minnesota

  • 02/25/2013 12:26 pm in

022412uerIndiana returns to action for the first time in a week on Tuesday night with a trip to Williams Arena in Minneapolis to take on Minnesota. The Golden Gophers are just 6-8 in conference play, but are 5-2 at home. The Hoosiers won the first meeting between the two teams, 88-81, on Jan. 12 at Assembly Hall.

The game will be broadcast on ESPN at 7 p.m. with Mike Tirico, Dan Dakich and Sam Ponder on the call:

With last Tuesday’s win at Michigan State, Indiana now controls its own destiny in the race for the Big Ten regular season championship. The Hoosiers are two games ahead of the Spartans, Michigan and Wisconsin in the loss column.

The road doesn’t get any easier tomorrow as “the Barn” has historically been a tough place to play, but working in IU’s favor is the fact that Minnesota is in the midst of a skid. The Gophers have lost four of five and are coming off a pair of blowout road losses: 72-51 at Iowa and 71-45 at Ohio State.

PERSONNEL

As tough as wins have been to come by for Tubby Smith’s team as of late, Minnesota did come into Assembly Hall earlier this season and push Indiana to the brink after getting crushed in the first half. Minnesota actually had an opportunity to draw the game even late before Jordan Hulls iced the game with free throws.

That was during a stretch where the Hoosiers were struggling to finish off games and had yet to put together anything close to a complete game of strong play in the Big Ten. Things have changed in that regard in recent weeks as the Hoosiers won running away at Ohio State and then won in East Lansing for the first time since 1991.

Minnesota is balanced offensively with five guys scoring nine or more points per game, but no player averages more than 13.6 points. The Gophers start three guards in Austin Hollins, Andre Hollins and Joe Coleman, and each brings a different dimension. Andre Hollins is the team’s leading scorer, shoots 39 percent on threes and 79.8 percent from the foul line. The sophomore guard also averages a team-high 3.3 assists and has a 25 percent assist rate.

Austin Hollins is second on the team in scoring at 11.1 points per game, but has struggled from the perimeter in conference play. He’s hitting just 34.6 percent of his attempts from distance and was 0-of-4 in the loss at Ohio State. Coleman has scored in double figures just once in Minnesota’s last 10 games, but is one of the more physical guards in the league.

Up front, Rodney Williams is coming off his worst performance of the season in Columbus. The senior went scoreless in just eight minutes, but has otherwise put together a respectable season. Williams is solid on the offensive glass (9.7 OR%), makes 54.1 percent of his twos and can help the Gophers capture momentum with his ability to finish above the rim. Sixth-year senior Trevor Mbakwe has been dominant on the glass (15.6 OR%, 23.8 DR%). Both figures rank second among Big Ten players. Mbakwe is also getting to the line at a blistering pace as he’s taken 127 free throws, but is only knocking down 61.4 percent of his attempts.

POMEROY PREVIEW

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Minnesota continues to set the pace as the nation’s best offensive rebounding team, but the Gophers are just seventh in Big Ten play on the defensive glass. In the first meeting between the two teams, Minnesota was able to rebound 40.5 percent of its misses, but allowed Indiana to shoot an effective field goal percentage of 58.5, which was one of the differences in the game.

Taking care of the ball has been a major problem the Gophers as they rank 275th nationally in turnover percentage and are coughing the ball up on 22.7 of their possessions in conference play, which is the worst rate in the league. Minnesota has also been inept at guarding the 3-point line in Big Ten play as opponents are shooting 37.2 percent from distance. That’s an area Indiana will certainly look to exploit as the Hoosiers are shooting a league-best 43.4 percent on threes. (Editor’s note: Ryan breaks down Minnesota’s struggles to guard the 3-point line in the premium forum.)

Both teams are setting the league pace in getting to the foul line as the Hoosiers lead the league in free throw rate (FTA/FGA) and Minnesota is second. Indiana, however, is doing a better job keeping opponents off of the foul line with an opponent free throw rate of 27.4 compared to 37.6 for Minnesota.

WHAT IT COMES DOWN TO

Despite the recent struggles, Minnesota’s current skid doesn’t negate the fact that the Gophers have one of the better home court advantages in the Big Ten. And even with how poorly the Gophers have played in recent weeks, the last time the Hoosiers went on the road against a struggling team, Illinois, a late collapse led to a loss. Most of IU’s regulars have experience winning in Minneapolis under their belt as IU went there and won 69-50 last February.

The importance of this game for Indiana is fairly significant. If the Hoosiers can win it, they will have the opportunity to clinch a share of the Big Ten championship in Saturday’s game with Iowa and potentially win it outright on senior night against Ohio State on March 5. Given where the senior class started out four years ago in conference play (3-15), that opportunity would be the perfect way for this group to finish up their careers in Assembly Hall.

Pomeroy likes the Hoosiers to prevail, 73-67, with a 71 percent chance for the Hoosiers to move to 7-1 in Big Ten road play and 13-2 overall in league play.

TOM CREAN ON MINNESOTA’S STRUGGLES

“We’re really focused on the games they’ve played the best in and we’re focused on how they played against us and the pressure that they brought against us and the movement that they have. Because that’s what we feel like we’re going to see tomorrow night. I have a ton of respect for that group of guys and certainly in knowing Trevor [Mbakwe], but in watching the rest of them develop over a period of time and a tremendous amount of respect for Coach [Tubby] Smith. They really get after you when they get into that press, when they’re trying to turn you over and that’s what we expect to see from them. We’ve focused on the best that Minnesota has to offer and not maybe the times where they haven’t played to their best. Because that’s, again, what we think we’re seeing night in and night out from people and that’s the way you want it.”

Filed to:

  • chiswede

    Ok, who is the voter that voted for Gonzaga this week? EDIT: Ed Graney. Revoke his voting permission.

  • WatchingYogi_atYogis

    Another thread asked when it’s time to start popping the champagne. I really like the summary on here of “what it all comes down to.” Win the next three winnable games, clinch a share on Saturday at home against Iowa and clinch outright the following Tuesday at home against OSU. That would be a nice senior night for C Wat, Jordy and DE. Win the next three, no exceptions. It’s fair to expect as much from the nation’s legitimate number one team.

  • Benhyoung14

    Both of these team’s are different than they were in January. Minnesota has lost 8 of 11. In that stretch they haven’t won a road game. Their confidence is down, so I don’t expect them to come out like they did in the 2nd half of the last game. IU’s is higher, and they know they can win in a hostile environment. It should be a double digit win.

  • CutterInChicago

    I will always be worried about games at The Barn. I still think Minnesota has talent and that this will be a tough game. I hope I am wrong about that and that we win easily.

  • CutterInChicago

    I will always be worried about games at The Barn. I still think Minnesota has talent and that this will be a tough game. I hope I am wrong about that and that we win easily.

  • jwcasey

    Great point, could potentially clinch the Big Ten regular season outright on senior night. Would be an ideal way for this senior class to go out on their last game at Assembly Hall, but I have a feeling they anticipate placing several orders with the banner seamstress by the time this season ends.

    If the 2012 recruiting class was “The Movement” then the 2009 class should be known as “The Foundation.”

  • jack_j100

    I expect a win, nothing less. Can’t let another one get away. We could very well be undefeated, but of course, we have won a couple we could have very easily lost.

  • jack_j100

    I expect a win, nothing less. Can’t let another one get away. We could very well be undefeated, but of course, we have won a couple we could have very easily lost.

  • jack_j100

    Nothing to worry about tomorrow night in The Barn. An easy victory, that will be over in the first 15 minutes. I have total confidence in an IU win. Oh, and by the way- this game scares me too death.

  • Sarasota Hoosier

    This is an extremely dangerous game, like Nebraska last year, only Minnesota has so much more to be playing for, given they still can make the Dance, and a victory over the Hoosiers would go a long way. If we don’t bring our A game to the Barn, it could be a long night. Minnesota has very good athletes.

  • SCHoosier

    Going into B-10 play I thought thought the Gophs would contend. I know they are loose with the ball and Williams has had some injuries..but man early on these guys were hitting 3’s with their eye’s shut. Any opinions as to why they went in the tank other than the bad TO’s record?

  • Matthew Miller

    You mean like when Illinois was reeling and had lost 7 of 9 and was really down on confidence and the number 1 team in the nation came in and…

    Right, Minnesota will give us a heck of a game and we’ll do well to win. Period.

  • HoosierGrad07

    No not like that because IU gained perspective and toughness from that loss and have gained momentum and confidence from the subsequent (huge) road wins against OSU and MSU. So no, this is quite different…we will win by at least 8

  • And_One

    Who thinks this will be an easy win? Uh-huh. Yeah, I thought so. No game in the Barn is easy. Expect IU will be tested tomorrow. Expect, also, that they will get the W, but they will have earned it.

  • iuoiu

    He probably figures we’ll lose at least one game this week, thus making him seem like some guru who’s ahead of the times. Only issue is that even if we do lose, it will be against a team that’s tougher than any team they’ll even come close to sniffing in their sorry conference.

  • CutterInChicago

    Well said. KenPom has Minnesota at #19 (we’re at #2). Hollis had 25 against us earlier this year… Admittedly, we have been playing much better since the first meeting but still, just want to get the W very, very, very badly up there.

  • Benhyoung14

    Just like IU is a different team than when it played Minny, IU is a different team than when they played Illinois.

  • Sherronhasaheadache

    IU 78-65. Hulls gets loose an has his best scoring game of the season

  • Sherronhasaheadache

    IU 78-65. Hulls gets loose an has his best scoring game of the season

  • HannerTime Hoosier

    A few weeks back, Gonzaga beat USD, that’s University of San Diego by 2 points!!! I thought they only had a surf and volleyball team?!

  • jwcasey

    Relax. There’s two ways to look at this game; “trap game” as you described above or “bye week,” as in, opportunity for Oladipo to rest his ankle and allow Coach to hammer it out on the film sessions of Minnesota. I’m more worried about the officiating crew than anything you mentioned.

  • Kevin Tolliver

    Hoosiers should win, but I think it is imperative Indiana gets out to a good start much like the MSU and OSU games. This is key to winning on the road and keeping crowd out of game early. Minny will want this game bad so we better bring our “A” game. This isn’t the time to let up. Go HOOSEIRS

  • I think the team is ready for this game. I honestly believe that the Illinois loss will go down as the defining moment where we turned around and started playing our best basketball. I don’t see this team overlooking anymore games, they finally have the ability to play a consistent 40 minutes, mentally and physically

  • Hulls is definitely overdue for an en fuego night for sure!

  • Dick_Pepperfield

    Dickich says we lose by 40

  • Dick_Pepperfield

    Dude lives and writes in Vegas. I wouldn’t care about lowly college hoops either if I lived there. Revoke his vote!

  • Dick_Pepperfield

    Dude lives and writes in Vegas. I wouldn’t care about lowly college hoops either if I lived there. Revoke his vote!

  • Geoff_85

    Indiana has to rebound in this game. Plain and simple. As long as the Hoosiers can do that, they should be fine. There is so much talent on this team that all they really need are opportunities. The question will be what the officials let the players get away with on the inside. This is a game where Watford needs to facilitate himself early on offense and make his presence known on the boards. Aside from the officiating, this one should be fun. I should probably apologize to my Twitter followers before the game starts. They got no such warning before the MSU game. I kinda felt bad for them.

  • kewaynes

    Thinking about is as a “bye weel” is what makes it a “trap game”

  • SCHoosier

    If Tubby can’t get his team up for their best effort of the year given that its #1 ranked Indiana..I will be very surprised. I think the Hoosiers mindset of being “disengaged” for large segments of a half are now behind us. If the Gophs come out blazing..we just have to hang in..and take control of the game. Can be done.

  • Eastwood88_2

    We are playing so much better defensively since the first matchup. I believe that will be tonights key. No BS 2/3 zone. Man to Man, switch on screens. We should be ok. Now for the negative, Illinois was shooting awful before we arrived to light a fire. Who is Minny’s Griffey? Rodney Williams?

    As a team, they are not together. Let’s take their spirits early. They hang around like Illinois and we might have a problem. This in not a “must win” for minne. They are at NEB, Purdue and PSU at home. Three wins gets them to 9-9. Win the first game in the tourney against a bottom feeder. They are in. Illinois was NIT bound with a lost to us.

  • Eastwood88_2

    We are playing so much better defensively since the first matchup. I believe that will be tonights key. No BS 2/3 zone. Man to Man, switch on screens. We should be ok. Now for the negative, Illinois was shooting awful before we arrived to light a fire. Who is Minny’s Griffey? Rodney Williams?

    As a team, they are not together. Let’s take their spirits early. They hang around like Illinois and we might have a problem. This in not a “must win” for minne. They are at NEB, Purdue and PSU at home. Three wins gets them to 9-9. Win the first game in the tourney against a bottom feeder. They are in. Illinois was NIT bound with a lost to us.

  • I’m confused about clinching a share with 2 wins. If Wisconsin wins out, we go 2 and 2 in our last four, and MSU and UM both end with 5 losses, wouldn’t Wisc hold the tiebreaker with us via their head to head win over us?

  • CreamandCrimson

    Hence the “share” part. There are no tiebreakers for the Big Ten Championship. If Indiana were to finish 14-4 along with Wisconsin…Indiana and Wisconsin would be co-champions. Both would hang Big Ten title banners. The tiebreakers come in for seeding purposes for the Big Ten Tournament. In your scenario, Wisconsin would be the 1-seed.

  • TorontoHoosierFan

    No tiebreaker for the Big 10 regular season title. If records are the same, the title is shared.

  • Minny is going to flat out bring it this game. They are up against the wall and this win would probably put them in the NCAA for good. I just have a feeling this is going down to the wire tonight and we are going to have to gut it out. Need to keep the TOs down and we need guys pounding the glass and defending the 3pt line. Do those and we should be in good shape. But this is a game where Minny will be hitting shots guaranteed.

  • Why would you be worried about something we cant control? Guess that is what fans do, but this game will not be decided by the refs. Very few, if any, game ever is. That’s just a fan’s crutch when their team didnt win a game they thought they would win going in.

  • Why would you be worried about something we cant control? Guess that is what fans do, but this game will not be decided by the refs. Very few, if any, game ever is. That’s just a fan’s crutch when their team didnt win a game they thought they would win going in.

  • Matthew Miller

    True, and admittedly, I’d rather be pessimistic then happy when we win rather than optimistic I unhappy if we only win by 2 or 3.

  • Earl Scheib

    I agree with the Hulls going wild tonite hopes / opinions. After watching Kansas – Iowa State and seeing all those 3’s I expect Jordy to torch the nylons like never before. Make it happen Jordy! Go IU! Banner 6!!!!

  • Benhyoung14

    After 25 year I’ve become pretty pessimistic, but top 5 wins last year, and road wins against MSU, and OSU have changed that.

  • jwcasey

    That’s exactly what I was implying. I’m not losing any sleep worrying about the ways Ted Valentine could ruin a basketball game. Although, I would argue that Iowa State had a game last night that was decided by the officials on that obvious charge that wasn’t called.

    At this point in the season everything comes down to preparation and execution, it’s really just that simple.

  • chiswede

    Ugh, is it Valentine again tonight? I’m not sure I can handle him anymore.

  • jwcasey

    I’m not sure, but he is without a doubt the worst.

  • calbert40

    Going on the road when you are the #1 team in the conference and country puts a pretty large target on your back. I fully expect that we will get the Gophers’ best shot tonight. I think we will be prepared, rested and ready tonight.

    I think we win by 11, but it will be a hard fought victory, and the score will not reflect the level of difficulty in winning at the Barn.

  • calbert40

    Going on the road when you are the #1 team in the conference and country puts a pretty large target on your back. I fully expect that we will get the Gophers’ best shot tonight. I think we will be prepared, rested and ready tonight.

    I think we win by 11, but it will be a hard fought victory, and the score will not reflect the level of difficulty in winning at the Barn.

  • HannerTime Hoosier

    Ok, Jordy has benn surgical of late when shooting 3’s, Great! Why is CTC talking about running more offense thru CWat? I think it is to garner more attention to him for pro scouts. Why else divert offense away from Cody or Vic?! I mean he hit an off-balance floater against MSU, coulda missed it. Let the offense come to CWat, don’t get him forcing things again! Ugh!

  • WatchingYogi_atYogis

    Since you always bring up Dakich having us fourth in his B1G power rankings after the Illinois game, it seems an appropriate time to bring back up one of your earlier posts where you said you had “Minnesota penciled in your final eight.” You must have meant they would finish in the top eight of the B1G. Because surely you weren’t suggesting that they would get to the Elite 8 in the NCAA tournament. If they even get to the tournament that is… You make me laugh.

  • WatchingYogi_atYogis

    Nevermind, I got the quote here from the Minute After:Minnesota:

    “Kris ITH Moderator • a month ago

    This was two very talented basketball teams today. I tip my hat to Tubby and
    his boys, I’d say they play at Assembly Hall with as much confidence as
    any opponent that visits B-Town. Kinda like IU, Minny is loaded with
    talented players. I enjoy watching them play.

    IU will move up the rankings with this win for sure and for my money, so should Minny.

    Dick_Pepperfield Kris • a month ago

    Completely agree. They will most likely fall in the polls which is a joke. I
    already have this Minny team penciled into my final 8 on my bracket.
    They are a match-up nightmare for most of the teams in the country.”

  • Guest

    I doubt this is a let-down game. These guys have been playing on a different level lately. Hopefully Sheehey brings his antics on the road. Not everyone loves how he acts, but I love what he does. Every team needs one of those guys with guys like Cody and Jordan to level him out.