What to Expect: Minnesota

  • 01/15/2016 10:16 am in

Indiana hits the road again in conference play on Saturday for a meeting with Minnesota at Williams Arena. The Hoosiers come into Minneapolis on a nine-game winning streak while the Gophers have won just one game since Nov. 30.

The game will be broadcast on BTN at 12:30 p.m. ET with Cory Provus and Bob Wenzel on the call:

Indiana’s Big Ten schedule has been favorable to start and the Hoosiers have a golden opportunity to pick up a third conference road win this weekend against a program that currently appears to be in crisis mode.

The Golden Gophers weren’t picked to finish in the top ten of the Big Ten by most, but nobody expected Minnesota to struggle this much through 17 games. After beating Clemson in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Nov. 30, Minnesota has dropped nine of its last 10 games. The lone win? Chicago State, which is ranked No. 340 nationally by KenPom. The two most recent losses by the Gophers have been by a combined 50 points to Northwestern at home and at Nebraska.

But as we’ve seen this week in college basketball, winning on the road doesn’t come easy. And for Indiana, this isn’t a contest that can be taken lightly. The Hoosiers had their struggles at Rutgers and also won at Nebraska, but it didn’t come without some resistance. With a back half of the Big Ten schedule that is loaded, continuing to stack up wins now must be the focus.

MEET THE GOPHERS (all stats are now conference only unless otherwise noted)

Through five league games, Minnesota has the Big Ten’s second worst offense at just .95 points per possession. The Gophers are led in scoring by sophomore guard Nate Mason at 13.6 points per game.

The 6-foot-2 guard has really struggled with his shooting in conference play as he’s making just 39 percent of his 2s and 31.9 percent of his 3s. The ideal role for Mason is to be more of a distributor (21.1 percent assist rate), but with the lack of reliable options around him, he’s been thrust into a more prominent role.

His primary help offensively is senior guard Carlos Morris and freshman wing Jordan Murphy, who appears to be very promising. Morris has been shooting well over his last five games (42.9 percent on 3s) and his effective field goal percentage of 52.5 currently ranks 21st in the conference.

Murphy, a 6-foot-7 forward who originally signed with VCU, was a late spring addition and is using 27.9 of the team’s possessions while on the floor in Big Ten games. Murphy is averaging 10 points and 6.4 rebounds and also ranks in the top ten in the conference in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentage.

Senior Joey King came off the bench at Nebraska, but has started pretty regularly over his career. The 6-foot-9 King is making 45 percent of his 3s in conference play, is 16-of-16 from the free throw line and is averaging 9.8 points.

The post has been a major problem for Minnesota as 6-foot-11 sophomore Bakary Konate remains a major work in progress. Konate is playing 22.2 minutes per game in Big Ten games, but averages just 5.4 points and 2.8 rebounds. He’s been pedestrian on the defensive glass, which helps explain why teams are rebounding 37 percent of their missed shots against the Gophers so far in league play.

One other frontcourt name to keep in mind is 6-foot-9 junior forward Charles Buggs, who has started eight games, but hasn’t left the bench in two of the first five Big Ten games. Buggs is shooting close to 42 percent on 3s this season, but is apparently in Pitino’s doghouse due to work ethic issues.

The primary rotation cogs off the bench in the backcourt are all freshmen: Kevin Dorsey, Ahmad Gilbert and Dupree McBrayer. Dorsey is scoring five points a game in conference play, but is shooting horribly (42.9 percent on 2s and 12.3 percent on 3s). Gilbert hasn’t shot it much better – 25 percent on 3s – while McBrayer has a team-best 23.7 percent assist rate in Big Ten play.

TEMPO-FREE PREVIEW

011516tempo

Given that we’re nearly a fourth of the way into the Big Ten schedule, our tempo-free chart has been changed to include conference-only stats with rankings in parenthesis. The numbers are obviously still a bit skewed given that some teams have played tougher schedules than others, but that will work itself out as the weeks move along.

There’s not a ton of encouraging things to point to here from the Minnesota perspective. The Gophers have the league’s second worst offense and defense. And they struggle in several key areas that Indiana excels in.

Start with their effective field goal percentage defense, which is actually higher than Indiana’s effective field percentage through four conference games. The defensive boards are also a major problem for Minnesota, which is allowing its Big Ten opponents to rebound 37 percent of their misses. That’s an area where Indiana has been able to clean up its missed shots (34.4 offensive rebounding percentage) for second chance opportunities.

Pitino has preached that his plan for Minnesota is to implement a hard nosed, pressing defense that his father, Rick, has built a Hall of Fame career on, but this Gopher team isn’t forcing many turnover and simply isn’t putting up the resistance to stop anyone so far in league play.

On the season as a whole, opponents are shooting 68 percent at the rim against Minnesota as the chart below from Shot Analytics shows:

minnydefense011516

WHAT IT COMES DOWN TO

The KenPom projection is Indiana by 10 with an 83 percent chance of victory. Sagarin likes the Hoosiers by 13.

The Barn has historically been a tough place for Indiana to play, but given that Minnesota has already dropped five games there this season, this is a game the Hoosiers need to have. Right now Indiana’s NCAA tournament resume may not have a marquee win, but the Hoosiers have positioned themselves to keep climbing the S-Curve if they keep winning.

We’ll probably learn quite a bit about Minnesota’s mentality as a team in this one. Are the Gophers tuning out Pitino’s message on their way to a finish in the bottom two of the league? Or will there be some kind of prideful response and fight following embarrassment against Northwestern and Nebraska.

Ultimately, Indiana just needs to ensure the defensive mentality that it has exhibited the past three games travels north and the result should take care of itself.

(Photo credit: Jamie Sabau/Getty Images North America)

Filed to:

  • Kwang

    Cheeseman’s stats are better. Go to the forum.

  • Kwang

    I think rebounding is where the game ends up going IU’s way.

  • Kwang

    Dude, Really? The last twenty years have little to do with this year. Rebounding will be the key, and little to no IU turnovers.

  • Hoosier from Hell

    Heck Ya!

  • Hoosier from Hell

    pitino’s puttanas

  • VanPastorMan

    Finally a guy that is not a scardy cat!!! Go IU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Hoosier from Hell

    Show ’em hell pastor man!

  • ForeverIU

    I’m happy with the tradeoff between AdjO (7) and AdjD (1). Not that I don’t value O, but once we establish disciplined and consistent D, we can then refocus on O, and we know we can bring that up.

  • Koko

    He did have a stroke……a stroke of bad luck.

  • PBzeer

    What to expect? Continued improvement. Maintaining our intensity and focus. What the other team does or doesn’t do, doesn’t matter as much as what we do.

  • marcusgresham

    That one is more creepy than impure.

  • marcusgresham

    That has to weigh on you. Enough so that I won’t make a “maybe he drank some water in Flint” joke. OK, so I guess I did just make the joke anyway. Still feel bad for anyone losing his father, though–and Izzo seems like a good guy. I would like him more if he didn’t seem to beat IU so regularly, but he seems like a good guy.

  • marcusgresham

    More importantly though, I would like to see Priller hit a couple of threes….because you know if he’s even in the game to shoot them IU won it about 10 minutes earlier!

  • marcusgresham

    Trevor Mbakwe—pretty sure he was Billy Ocean on steroids.

  • So does that mean that since Kentucky, MSU ad Arizona.. all were pretty much ‘blown out within the past three weeks they aren’t any good either?

  • ForeverIU

    Please don’t pretend like you weren’t ready to jump ship either. Go back and look at your own posts and just about everyone else’s.

  • IUMIKE1

    EXACTLY what I was just thinking.

  • IUMIKE1

    Ok, keep saving me KSPH, so far you’re covering it pretty well.

  • IUMIKE1

    Totally understandable….said the Steelers fan. lol

    Disclaimer: Colts fan first now, but the Steelers were my number one until the Colts came to town, but my Steelers are still a solid number 2 and will be my number one again if the Colts pull another midnight move.

  • IUMIKE1

    Don’t stop now.

  • Richard F Hamm

    They are allowing nearly 37% from deep, and they have only played 4 teams shooting better than 32%ish>> MSU being one at 38%, the others mid-majors at 36-37% ish. They have not seen anything like our Hoosiers at 45% AND if they are allowing a MENACING 68% at the Rim- inside-game will hopefully/should be on point tn-

  • Richard F Hamm

    moreover- last time we played a team giving up those outside numbers – notre dame.

  • IUMIKE1

    Telepathic dictation ?

  • IUMIKE1

    You and I both, probably me more so than you. lol

  • IUMIKE1

    You’re not the only one suffering from such an affliction.

  • IUMIKE1

    Well put.

  • Hey when did I pretend that I wasn’t .. I absolutely was.. and believe me I am not the Crean loyalist I have been over the past two ears. I think if this season turns into a ‘bust’ it is absolutely time for him to go. However, I like what I’ve seen the past 4 games.. as far as progress and probably actually back to the 2nd half of the ND game. And, I would like to see it continue.. But I will be extremely disappointed if this ‘turn around’ reverts back to the way they were playing before. And, I will be one of the ‘off with his head’ crowd once again. If we lose some, like MSU, Iowa (although I believe we should win at least our home game with them) and Maryland.. but are at least looking good and maybe beat Michigan.. and play well in the NCAA Tournament, I will say it was a fair year. Not really good, but probably ok and he should be here next year.
    I’m not sure what I said that made you think I was blindly drinking the Crean Kool-Aid again.

  • IUMIKE1

    Or finally push that baby out that has been giving him severe contraction pains for quite some time now.

  • IUMIKE1

    Having lost my own father, my heart goes out to anyone that has lost theirs, especially when it’s one of the good guys.

  • I was just saying, that the Duke loss, while it was bad.. There have been other pretty much equivalent losses by several other teams this year. I’m not too sure why that is happening this year, but it is..

  • IUMIKE1

    I bet Bo knew it was inevitable that that was going to eventually happen and rescinded his retirement long enough for his assistant to get through that before taking over. I hate the kind of game Bo coaches, but he seems like the kind of guy that would do something like that for somebody that he liked and respected.

  • dwdkc

    Insert snarky comment here…but ITH is a politics-free zone so I will refrain–the pic might give a clue though

  • IUMIKE1

    Ditto that !!

  • Hey the Colts wouldn’t leave Indy.. would they? That would be such a bummer.. There aren’t even any rumors to that effect are there? Where to St. Louis? Hope that never happens…

  • IUMIKE1

    Haven’t heard anything to that effect, was just throwing that ” if ” in there.

  • when you pee?

  • Totally agree, he’s over-due. Hopefully the Z-man helps us shoot for a 26-point win. Iowa basically just did that AT Michigan St. IU should be able to do it at Minnesota.

  • Any and all road games in conference are potentially disastrous, in my opinion. I’m not afraid of Minnesota any more than any other team playing at home in the Big Ten. But I still think they should pull out a 20+ point win today. Go Hoosiers.

  • I’m more worried about what the neighbors think. At least the windows are closed this time of year. Light ’em up!

  • ForeverIU

    Yep that’s what happened.

  • ForeverIU

    Lol laborious describes it perfectly.

  • Whew, that would be terrible. can’t imagine it happening though, I mean thsy just got that new stadium which is really nice..

  • feel the Bern

    I know you’re feeling the Bern!

  • Kwang

    Forget about the barn? No way! Forget about the Bern comment.

  • CreanFaithful

    Is this in jest? If so, well done. Because having posted one comment with a firm understanding of how KenPom’s prediction algorithm works, certainly wouldn’t constitute as “out of control.”