What to Expect: Minnesota

  • 01/29/2016 10:54 am in

Following Tuesday’s 82-79 overtime loss to Wisconsin at the Kohl Center, Indiana returns to Assembly Hall on Saturday afternoon to host Minnesota. The Golden Gophers are 6-15 overall and 0-9 in the Big Ten.

The game will be broadcast on BTN at 2:15 p.m. ET with Josh Lewin and Bob Wenzel on the call:

No, Indiana’s narrow loss to Wisconsin in Madison on Tuesday night didn’t sound off any alarms about this Hoosier team. Strength of schedule aside, as of Friday morning, Indiana has the Big Ten’s best offense and defense in conference play.

What the loss did represent was an opportunity missed. Road wins in conference play are difficult to come by and Indiana was right there against Wisconsin, only to come up just short in what was mostly viewed as a 50/50 game. But the Hoosiers can’t let the loss linger or dwell on it.

Saturday’s opponent, Minnesota, has won just one game since November 30, but has lost its last four by a combined 21 points. Indiana already beat the Golden Gophers in Minneapolis, but now must hold serve at home if it hopes to remain a viable contender in the race for the Big Ten regular season title.

MEET THE GOPHERS (all stats, shot charts are for conference games only)

Due to foul trouble, sophomore guard Nate Mason played a season-low 22 minutes in the first matchup between IU and Minnesota back on Jan. 16, but remains at the top of the scouting report when looking at the Gophers.

The 6-foot-2 Mason is using 27.9 percent of Minnesota’s possessions while on the floor, the sixth most of any Big Ten player in league play. Mason averages a team-high 14.4 points, but is shooting just 42.7 percent on 2s and 34.1 percent on 3s. He’s third in the conference in assist rate (36.5 percent) and has a solid 2.3-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. Mason scored just five points against IU at the Barn, but is averaging 19.7 points in the three games since. As his ShotAnalytics chart below shows, Mason is very strong in the mid-range game:

mason012916

Freshman Dupree McBrayer has started the last five games with Mason in the backcourt and is averaging six points, 3.1 assists and 2.3 rebounds. McBrayer has really struggled from distance and is shooting a woeful 21.4 percent on 3s.

Senior guard Carlos Morris gives the Gophers some scoring off the bench as he’s fourth on the team at 9.1 points per contest in Big Ten play. Like most of Minnesota’s roster, Morris has also struggled with his shooting as he’s making just 32 percent of his 3s and 42.9 percent of his 2s.

Two other freshmen, Kevin Dorsey and Ahmad Gilbert, are also in the backcourt rotation. Dorsey has been awful from an efficiency standpoint (30.9 eFG%) and Gilbert is averaging just 3.2 points in 11.7 minutes per game.

The majority of Mason’s help is likely to come from Jordan Murphy, Joey King and potentially Charles Buggs. Murphy is a promising freshman who had 10 points and eight rebounds in the first meeting between the two teams. He’s averaging 10.8 points and a team-high 6.9 rebounds in conference games. He ranks in the top 10 in the Big Ten in defensive rebounding percentage at 22.2.

Senior Joey King went off against the Hoosiers in the Barn for 18 points, including 4-of-5 on 3s. King is making 44.2 percent of his 3s in Big Ten play, which ranks 10th in the conference. In three career games against IU, King is averaging 15.7 points.

king012916

Minutes for Buggs are on the rise as he played 27 at Michigan, 39 at home against Illinois in an overtime contest and then 26 versus Purdue. At 6-foot-9 and 230 pounds with decent athleticism, Buggs is a guy that the Gophers should be getting more out of but he was in Richard Pitino’s doghouse for the early part of the league schedule. Over his last three, Buggs is averaging 4.7 points and 3.3 rebounds.

Minnesota starts Bakary Konate in the post and he remains a work in progress. Konate is averaging just 4.8 points and 3.1 rebounds in league play, but is making 57 percent of his 2s. However, he’s averaging more than 6 fouls per 40 minutes, which has limited his playing time.

TEMPO-FREE PREVIEW

minnytempo0116

Indiana played poorly offensively in the Barn (1.01 points per possession) and Minnesota was able to stay in the game mostly due to an absurd free throw rate (FTA/FGA). The Gophers had a 65.2 free throw rate in Minneapolis compared to 19 percent for the Hoosiers. That resulted in Minnesota outscoring IU by nine from the line.

Two things to watch for on Saturday: Will Indiana establish dominance on the glass? The Hoosiers grabbed 31.9 percent of their missed shots at the Barn and scored nine second chance points. Second: Will IU get back on track defensively? Wisconsin was the first Big Ten opponent to score more than a point per possession on the Hoosiers (1.09). Minnesota is averaging just .94 points per trip through nine league games, so holding that at or below that mark should be the goal.

WHAT IT COMES DOWN TO

KenPom likes Indiana to win by 20 with a 95 percent chance of victory and Sagarin’s predictor has the Hoosiers winning by 21. Indiana’s average margin of victory in its last three games at Assembly Hall is 30.3.

How important is this game for Indiana to take care of business in? After tipping as KenPom favorites in all of their first nine league games, the Hoosiers are projected to go 5-4 the rest of the way.

A 13-5 finish probably won’t have a chance to win the league, but it would certainly set IU up nicely for the Big Ten tournament and beyond. To get there, Indiana can afford no missteps. The Hoosiers are the superior team and should be motivated after a narrow road loss at Wisconsin. If Indiana is the team we saw over the first seven league games, they’ll dispatch of Minnesota comfortably.

Filed to:

  • PBzeer

    I think that last sentence pretty much says it all.

  • IU track Alumni

    All we have to do is keep turnovers under 10 and we win easily. I predict a great game for our frontcourt as Minny has no one that should be able to check us.

  • CreamandCrimson

    “The Gophers had a 65.2 free throw rate in Minneapolis compared to 19 for the Hoosiers.” Sound familiar? As Alex pointed out, IU didn’t play well offensively and the opponent had an absurd free throw rate that kept them in the game. We saw the “absurd” free throw rate at Minnesota and at Wisconsin…hopefully that doesn’t become something we see every game on the road (or any game at home).

    I’ll be in Assembly Hall to cheer on Hoosiers and I certainly hope we continue to roll on our home floor and notch another convincing win. 8-1 would meet/exceed pretty much every poster’s expectations for the first half of this B1G season, mine included. Here’s what I’ll be looking for:
    -A bounce-back game from our bench…the entire unit was pretty bad against Wisconsin.
    -Please get that turnover % back to a more respectable number. We saw some mild improvement in the few games prior to Tuesday night, I hope the game at Wisconsin was just a quick regression that disappears.
    -Joey King hurt us at the Barn…let’s see how we adjust to defend him.
    -I’d like to hold the Gophers at .94 points per possession (their average) or below.

    Most importantly, I hope we continue to see the same effort and fight that we’ve seen since the Duke loss. If our Hoosiers can play with that kind of energy and urgency from the start against Minnesota, I think it’ll be a nice Saturday afternoon to cap off an impressive month of January. Let’s go Hoosiers, take care of business!

  • Jim Miller

    I think this team, and Yogi in particular, comes out salty at the tip and romps Minny by 30+. This will be a statement game for the players to show they are ready for the second half schedule and next weeks road trip to Ann Arbor and Happy Valley. After running god knows how many 17s since Tuesday, they will be looking to take out on the next opponent up. Look for Priller time at the under 4 timeout in 2H.

  • BL

    Don’t know how many kids were under the weather at Wisconsin. Hope the bug isn’t lingering. We need to get back to full strength for the back half of the BIG schedule.

  • Justin Beard

    13-5 would be fantastic. 14-4 would be even better;)

  • Young Hoosier

    Joe Lunardi’s last update had Indiana as a 6 seed playing either LSU or Cincy…. I wouldn’t want to play LSU. Our defense may have gotten better… but we don’t have anyone that can guard Ben Simmons. Would he go off for 35? Or score 15, grab 15 rebounds and 15 assists? Troy Williams can’t guard him. Colin… that’d be a nightmare. OG… mmm… no. I’d much rather play Cincy.

  • Chi-Town Hoosier

    Minnesota looks not so great on offense, but like we saw at the Barn, we had some major issues with turnovers in the first half as they were able to give us fits. Not sure if that was from their defense or our poor play.

    I am really looking forward to see how Bryant bounces back on the defensive end. I noticed MN runs a lot of pick and roll action with Mason looking to distribute to the roller most of the time. Also, #3 (Murphy I believe) is raw but has some good quickness which causes Bryant a lot of problems. I don’t see this being a blow out, but a 10+ win at the end as we are just too much for them.

  • And One

    Bounce back game + weak opponent + back at the Hall = (to paraphrase Morris Buttermaker) BAD NEWS FOR THE GOLDEN GOPHERS. Hoosiers by 30.

  • BL

    I was wondering if we’ve had a game this year with fewer than 10 turnovers. Amazing what I found. We’ve had two games under 10 TO’s this year. McNeese State and shockingly Duke. Against the devils we shot 51% from 2, 41% from 3, had 9 TO’s, 4 blocks and 5 steals. Would have thought we won. Problem was, Duke put up 17 more shots overall, shot 46% from 3 and out rebounded us 38 to 25. Clearly against Duke it was D and rebounding because we were still playing the 3-guard lineups. Against ND, we shot 50% from 3 and out rebounded them 41 to 33. If I recall correctly, that was the game we began playing bigger in the 2nd half. Against Wisconsin (last Tuesday) we out rebounded them 32 to 25 but only shot 45% from 2 and had 19 TO’s. Most importantly, there was a glaring difference in FT volume; 37 vs. 18 attempts in Wisconsin’s favor.

    Anyway, now that we’re playing better D and rebounding with the traditional (longer) lineup, most games will probably turn on shooting %, FT volume and TO’s. With the emphasis on pushing the pace, thinking 10-12 TO’s would be really good for this team. Less than 10 TC should have to run 17’s 🙂

  • SilentBob

    There is no body in college basketball that can guard Ben Simmons. Do what everyone else does, try to take away everyone else and pray for the best.

  • Tcuomo

    I’ve watched a decent amount of LSU games. While Ben Simmons is amazing and LSU has the talent to go far, I don’t think they will. Quite simply I don’t think their coach is any good. Still, I think it would be much more fun with Simmons & LSU in the Dance, rather than out of it.

  • BruceA

    Feel confident that the Hoosiers will bounce back in a big way. On another note, Richard Pitino sure looks like his dad in that picture above.

  • Lance76

    Wonder what else he could have learned from dad? If my memory serves me correctly, was’t it Richard that came up with Kenny Johnson’s name when Louisville was looking for another assistant coach?

  • Fifer39

    As boring as it sounds, I really want to see us come out and play with a bit of patience and composure, distribute, play through the paint and find the open shot – not trying to win it in the first 5 minutes. Then we will dismantle minny. Got a feeling TB is going to put up some big numbers and really want to see OG get some more minutes.

  • BruceA

    Didn’t remember that…you may be right!

  • I’d really love to know more about this and how much of a factor it was.

  • Agreed. I think a win should be a foregone conclusion. I want to see the team specifically address what was lacking at Wisconsin: ball movement, turnovers, and post defense. I don’t care if we win by 10 or 50, let’s just show that the Wisconsin game was an aberration in terms of fundamentals.

  • Meadows007

    Has anybody made the drive from the North Side of Indy to Bloomington on a game day? I’m wondering how long it will take with game day traffic and construction on 37.

  • BL

    Minnesota’s last four losses: IU by 7; Michigan by 5; Illinois by 5 (OT); Purdue by 4. I watched the PU game. Minnesota makes a couple more plays they win. They have some young guys getting better and they gave us trouble the last time (similar to Wiscy). If our guys don’t come prepared for a war this could easily turn into a bummer.

  • Good, then maybe the game will be a better measure of the team’s recovery from the Wisconsin game. 🙂

  • BL

    Definitely. 10+ win and the Wiscy loss is officially in the past.

  • Koko

    I kinda remember RMK did that with Shaq when we played LSU in a tournament game. Shaq got his 30 but we won.

  • cooper

    I expect them to be angry and blow the gophers out

  • Jacob Pankowski

    Yes, he got 30 and went 18 for 18 from the FT line. Yes, FT line.

  • vicbert caladipo

    One thing I’ve learned and I haven’t learned much dealing with a rollercoaster team is we’ll never know more when it comes to sickness and injuries

  • Koko

    Yes Shaq should have kept that video and reviewed it during his NBA career. After that game a reporter asked Knight about O’Neal and Knight said….which one was O’Neal? The reporter said….the big one and Knight said he was good….very good.

  • Koko

    Let Simmons get his 35. Good D on his teammates will kill that triple double and he surely can’t outscore the entire IU team. In Dec. you complained that IU wasn’t a 4 seed or higher in a very early bracket that ment nothing. Now it is okay to be a 6 seed but you don’t want to play certain teams? I got news for you, Cincy could beat us just as soundly as you feel LSU/Simmons would. It is one and done….we play well we win….we play bad we lose….pretty simple. Doesn’t matter who the other team is. But I must say I think we would kick both their asses.

  • Oh, sure. Doesn’t stop me from wondering. 🙂

  • vicbert caladipo

    That might be my biggest frustration with CTC and the program. You never know anything. I understand not revealing unhealthy players before the game, but when you mention players being not 100% in the pressers why not elaborate. I don’t even recall reporters even asking for an elaboration. I guess that’s off limits.

  • Young Hoosier

    I just don’t want to play Ben Simmons. Because he could score 80 on Williams and Hartman. Williams has the athleticism(except strength) but he gives up 3 inches and 35 pounds. Hartman gives up 4 or 5 inches and 25 pounds and all of the athleticism. Hartman couldn’t guard Hayes. How do you think is go against Simmons? He’d foul out first half.

  • Yeah, I don’t know how all of that stuff works. Probably privacy concerns mixed with a desire to not make excuses for a loss coupled with some kind of sports community superstition coupled with I’m making this up as I go along. 🙂

  • vicbert caladipo

    If it was played at the Kohl 55 of those 80 would be from the line. Made Hayes actually look good.

  • vicbert caladipo

    Your speculation is as good as anything they will reveal. But isn’t mentioning in the presser a couple guys weren’t healthy, starting the path towards excuses?