What to Expect: Minnesota

  • 02/14/2015 1:27 pm in

Indiana begins a pivotal two-game homestand on Sunday night when Minnesota comes to Assembly Hall. The Golden Gophers are 16-9 and 5-7 in Big Ten play, but have won three straight.

The game will be broadcast on Big Ten Network at 7:30 p.m. ET with Kevin Kugler and Stephen Bardo on the call:

Indiana has maneuvered the third toughest in-conference Big Ten schedule so far to a 7-5 record, which has set the Hoosiers up well for four remaining home games and trips to Rutgers and Northwestern, who have combined for a 3-21 conference record to date.

But Indiana’s work in terms of solidifying a spot in next month’s NCAA tournament is not done yet and the road to double digit conference wins, which would likely seal up that bid, continues on Sunday with Minnesota.

Last year’s NIT champions started out 0-5 in conference play, but have won five of seven and are coming off their first road win in Big Ten play on Thursday night at Iowa.

MEET THE GOPHERS (Note: All stats are conference games only)

The return of Hanner Mosquera-Perea against Michigan on Feb. 8, which was originally targeted for the Minnesota game, may begin to show its importance beginning Sunday. The Hoosiers were able to get Mosquera-Perea a total of 15 minutes of court time and several practices leading into a week where his interior presence will be needed.

The Golden Gophers aren’t a dominating team in the post, but they do have more size than most of the Big Ten and it begins with 6-foot-10 senior Maurice Walker. He’s using a team-high 25.1 percent of possessions while on the floor in league play and has quietly put together a very solid season. In Big Ten games, Walker is making 52.4 percent of his 2s and 75 percent of his free throws. Percentage wise, he’s the league’s fourth best offensive rebounder and sixth best defensive rebounder and is in the top 10 of the conference in both block and steal percentage.

The rest of Minnesota’s frontcourt options are very low usage offensively and occupy a variety of roles.

Joey King, a 6-foot-9 junior, is primarily a perimeter threat and is knocking down close to 35 percent of his 3s in conference play. According to Shot Analytics, King is best as a right corner 3-point shooter (50 percent) and right wing 3-point shooter (38 percent) through 12 league games. Charles Buggs, a 6-foot-9 sophomore, is a decent finisher that makes 53.3 percent of his 2s but only 45.5 percent of his free throws. And 6-foot-11 senior Elliott Eliason is an even worse free throw shooter (43.3 percent), but is a decent post option that finishes just over 50 percent of his 2s.

Minnesota’s backcourt rotation goes four players deep and is led by senior guard Andre Hollins. He’s hoisted a team-high 89 shots from 3 in conference play and is knocking down those down at a 41.6 percent clip. Here’s a look at his shot chart in Big Ten games, per Shot Analytics:

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Senior point guard DeAndre Mathieu has struggled after a very solid junior season that landed him on our preseason list of the top 25 players in the conference. The 5-foot-9 guard is making just 36.2 percent of his 2s and 33.3 percent of his 3s in conference games, but remains a pest defensively with the league’s sixth best steal rate.

Junior wing Carlos Morris has started every game besides the team’s two losses to Iowa and is first in the Big Ten in steal rate (4.7 percent). He’s a high usage offensive player who is below average from an efficiency standpoint (47.2 eFG%). Freshman guard Nate Mason has been very good defensively (3.9 steal percentage) and rarely turns it over (9.6 turnover percentage). He’s limited offensively, however, as he’s shooting in the mid 30’s on 2s and low 30’s on 3s.

A LOOK AT THE NUMBERS

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Minnesota has won three straight despite not playing particularly well offensively. The Gophers have scored better than one point per possession over their last three games, but their ability to force turnovers is winning them games. Nebraska (33.2 turnover percentage), Purdue (34.9) and Iowa (26.2) all struggled to take care of the ball against Minnesota, but all of those clubs are 124th nationally or worse in turnover percentage and IU is 44th. If the Hoosiers can beat the pressure, solid looks will be there for the taking as Minnesota has been average at guarding 3s and below averaging defending 2s.

Two areas Indiana must exploit are the offensive glass – Minnesota is the Big Ten’s worst defensive rebounding team – and the free throw line as the Gophers have been prone to foul, although they’ve been much better in that regard over their last three.

WHAT IT COMES DOWN TO

Pomeroy’s model likes Indiana by three with a 62 percent chance for a Hoosier win while the Sagarin ratings like IU by 3.5 points. The Vegas line opened with Indiana as a 2.5-point favorite. This game, like most of IU’s recent contests at Assembly Hall, should be close as both teams have plenty to play for at the midway point of February.

Indiana has been fantastic at home this season (14-1) and whether the Hoosiers can claim another win will likely come down to how well they can lock down Walker and Hollins and avoid the unnecessary turnovers that have been propelling Minnesota to recent wins.

(Photo: Alex Goodlett/Getty Images North America)

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  • Eastwood88_2

    Given the numbers and the reason for minny’s recent wins being turnovers, I actually feel really good about tomorrow. They press, we will have open looks. They need the turnovers to score. Like us by 8 tomorrow. Give the points.

  • Ms hoosier

    would like to see JBJ and RJ have a good game and get their confidence going.If they can get hot along with Yogi and TROY there is no doubt we can finish strong

  • Guyton25

    I’ll only be completely satisfied with going 5-1 the rest of the way (or 6-0, lol), if we drop 2 out of these last 6 I’ll be a little disappointed because I know we can really finish strong.

  • NC Hoosier

    This game scares me. I don’t care if we only win by one. This game scares me a lot.

  • Ms hoosier

    Ninny has players that can hurt you. They need a win its important we come out and play hard. Assembly Hall needs to be LOUD!!!!!!

  • Am I the only one who doesn’t just fear going worse that 5-2 but actually expects it?

  • Aceman_Mujezinovic_07

    Considering IU only has 6 conference games left I think 5-2 would be a pretty impressive feat . . . HA!

    I completely expect IU to go 6-0 down the stretch and I’d be upset if they finished worse than 5-1 in those 6 games!

    Yogi will lead this team and keep them motivated and I think they’re getting ready to hit their stride at the right time. The schedule is set up well for IU and the MSU game is the only one that really has me worried!

  • Let’s hope so, but I honestly expect to lose to Purdue, MSU, and potentially Iowa. My worst nightmare would be realized if you also throw on a road loss to Rutgers or NW.

    Anyway, my prediction, if I were forced to make one, would be 3-3. I hope that I am really wrong and everyone gets a good laugh out of that prediction.

  • who’syourhoosier

    I say 4-2, MS and PU are my biggest worries right now.
    I’m probably leaning a bit to the positive side, but JBJ and RJ don’t strike me as the kind of guys to get down and NOT work their way back up. I expect they will be mostly solid for the rest of the season. Intestinal fortitude, I think they have it, along with the support of their team.

  • who’syourhoosier

    We need to get our fans some of those spinning signs. When Troy was shooting free throws, I damn near had a fit of epilepsy. Anything legal to help the team!

  • Hoosier Hall

    We need this one. Take care of the ball and I think we win by 10. Turn it over more than 12 times and this will come down to the wire. We’re due for another comfortable win.

  • ForeverIU

    For some reason I see each of the next six games as a coin toss.

    I’m having visions of Rutgers and/or Northwestern having a Rupert Pupkin (Robert De Niro) “better to be king for a night than schmuck for a lifetime” moment at our expense.

    The line is from Martin Scorsese’s The King of Comedy (for the spring chicken out there).

  • gm

    3 and 3 might not get us in the tourney

  • NC Hoosier

    I’d say you are going to be right. Unfortunately, I see losses to Purdue, MSU and Iowa.

  • Gregory J. Haggard

    You know, with the effort put forth at Maryland, and coming away with a loss after being so close, I think the Hoosiers will be hungry and give the Gophers all they can handle and more.
    I know Minnesota is on a roll, but the Hoosiers are tough minded, and have a lot of heart.
    If all things are even, I like IU by 5.

  • Ms hoosier

    I just can’t see IU losing 3 out of 4 at home Purdue is probably our worse matchup, but I think at home we can pull that one out

  • Mack

    They played really well against Mary and I see them building on that. Yogi has elevated his game and his leadership and this is what gives me confidence in this team. Our bench needs to bring added energy and hit some shots to demoralize Minny who will be very motivated. Every game is now a big game and the team’s that don’t get frazzled will make it through. It’s going to be a good dog fight for a lot about 7 teams–including Minny and Purdue and Iowa and Sparty–they all need every win now. Defense and cool upper-classmen like Yogi and I’ll take a big game from each one of our 3 specialists down the stretch, starting with JBJR.

  • hoosier oak

    I believe we go at least 4-2. I don’t see us losing three games. This team has surprised me all year. I don’t see us losing either road game and we won’t do worse then 2-2 at home. I believe 3-1 at home.

  • thrawnjan

    Then let’s hope they don’t keep surprising you, huh.

  • TomJameson

    Really, that cannot be overstated. Assembly Hall needs to be loud and rocking. Our players get so much energy from that, and the other teams gets so intimidated, IMO it literally is the difference maker in a close game!

  • TomJameson

    Come on Forever… 1-0 over the next game … and same thing for the next six. I learned that from you! LOL

  • TomJameson

    I we can keep up the defensive intensity that we showed at MD we should be okay, absolutely no worse that 4-2. If we can get a call when somebody actually grabs an arm, or when JBJ, RJ, or Yogi get pounded in the paint, I think we can actually go 6-1. lol

  • Lance76

    I would think there was more than 1 player in Cook Hall putting a lot of shots up to get their touch back. Agree, home game that we will be ready for and win.
    I would also like to see us play Maryland again in the BIG TEN tourney on neutral court. The amusement of them trying to control Yogi would be special.

  • David Macer

    I think that puts us on the bubble and means a bad loss to either NW or Rutgers.

  • Sherronhasaheadache

    scary matchup tonite if we don’t take care of the ball, minnny playing good basketball right now but we are at home. hope HMP gives us some quality minutes we are gonna need him. GO HOOSIERS!!

  • eville87

    Saw the pre game conference it’s obvious coach doesn’t look a head. (See our front court.) This is a must win with Iowa and Michigan state and Purdue left. Even though there home games. They will be tough matchups. We cannot afford to lose this game or either of the road games left. Everybody is talking tournament but we have not been able to find a way to win. From 5 and 1 to 7 and 5? Please don’t let us collapse at the end like last year. Coach always talks about getting better. It seems like his teams regress towards the end of the season. Any reasons? I repeat we have to have the win tonight.

  • jim

    Dont ever bet against the home team at Assembly Hall.