What to Expect: Minnesota

  • 02/15/2017 8:48 am in

Indiana travels to Minnesota on Wednesday night for its first of four remaining road games. The Golden Gophers are 18-7 overall and 6-6 in Big Ten play.

The game will be broadcast on BTN at 9 p.m. ET with Cory Provus and Jon Crispin on the call:

Indiana’s 2016-17 season is officially in crisis mode. The Hoosiers have dropped five of their last six games and are no longer an NCAA tournament team.

So where do things go from here? Is this the bottom or could things get worse?

Four of Indiana’s five remaining conference games are away from Bloomington. Indiana is just 1-5 this season in true road games. The lone victory came four weeks ago when the Hoosiers beat Penn State on a buzzer beater by James Blackmon Jr. That was also the night the Hoosiers lost OG Anunoby for the season with a knee injury.

On the bright side, several of Indiana’s remaining Big Ten opponents have been vulnerable at home. Minnesota is just 2-3 at Williams Arena in league play. Ohio State also has three home losses in Big Ten games. But given the recent slide and Indiana’s inability to win away from Bloomington, the Hoosiers won’t be favored in any of these contests.

MEET THE GOPHERS

In year four of the Richard Pitino era, Minnesota is on its way to an NCAA tournament berth for the first time. The Gophers are closing in on 20 wins and are ranked in the top 30 of the RPI. Three more wins punches Minnesota’s ticket and two might get the job done.

Minnesota is playing a tight rotation as the Gophers usually go just seven deep with five guys averaging in double figures.

Junior guard Nate Mason is the team’s leading scorer (14.5 ppg) and distributor (5.3 apg). Mason’s efficiency has taken a dive in league play as he’s making just 36.8 percent of his 2s and 31.2 percent of his 3s. The poor shooting hasn’t affected his decision making as Mason is third in the league in assist rate and has the fourth lowest turnover percentage.

Joining Mason in the backcourt are newcomers Akeem Springs, a graduate transfer from Milwaukee, and freshman wing Amir Coffey (pictured). Minnesota is the third Division I school for Springs, who averages 10.2 points per game. He’s making 42 percent of his 3s in conference play.

Coffey is a difficult matchup because of his size (6-foot-8) and his ability to score in a variety of ways. Coffey can hit the 3-pointer (41.5 percent in Big Ten play) and also get into the lane and draw fouls. His free throw rate (FTA/FGA) is 15th best in the league.

Sophomore guard Dupree McBrayer comes off the bench and is the team’s third leading scorer at 10.6 points per game. He’s a high usage, low efficiency offensive player. His usage rate in Big Ten play is 21.7 percent, the second highest of any Minnesota player. McBrayer is making just 41.9 percent of his 2s and 28 percent of his 3s in conference play.

Minnesota’s roster makeover is also prevalent in the frontcourt as two of the three contributors are new to the roster. Illinois State transfer Reggie Lynch, who was arrested in the offseason, is the Big Ten’s best shot blocker. His block percentage of 13.9 is second in the country. Lynch averages 8.3 points and 6.3 rebounds per game.

Sophomore forward Jordan Murphy is seventh in the league in defensive rebounding percentage and leads the Gophers with eight rebounds per game. Murphy’s 10.3 points per game are fourth on the team. Freshman forward Eric Curry, who is 6-foot-9 and 235 pounds, is a capable rebounder who gives Minnesota quality minutes off the bench. From a percentage standpoint, Curry is the Big Ten’s 10th best defensive rebounder.

TEMPO-FREE PREVIEW

Defense. Turnovers. Once again, these are the two areas to watch on Wednesday. Minnesota doesn’t turn the ball over and Indiana is being outscored by 62 points in points off of turnovers in Big Ten play. In losses, it’s 83 points or a difference of 10.4 points per game.

The Gophers aren’t a great offensive team, but Indiana is the Big Ten’s worst defensive unit. Big Ten opponents are scoring 1.11 points per possession against the Hoosiers. Indiana needs to put up a level of resistance similar to what it did at Wisconsin and against Purdue six days ago.

Finally, the free throw line is also likely to be a factor. Minnesota has the fifth best free throw rate (FTA/FGA) in the Big Ten at 33.5 percent while Indiana is 10th at 31.3 percent. The problem is the Hoosiers are last in the league in opponent free throw rate and the Gophers will try to exploit that weakness with the ball screen and straight line drives.

WHAT IT COMES DOWN TO

The Vegas line as of Wednesday morning is Minnesota by 5.5. KenPom likes Minnesota by four with a 67 percent chance of a win for the Gophers. Sagarin’s model likes Minnesota by two.

Of Indiana’s remaining five regular season games, this is their fourth best chance at a win according to Pomeroy. The Barn is always a difficult place to play as last year’s Big Ten championship team only won by six against a Minnesota club that was the second worst in the league.

After being beaten soundly on its home court on Sunday by Michigan, Indiana’s season is spiraling downward. Can the Hoosiers find a way to get a huge road win or will the collapse continue? We’re about to find out.

(Photo credit: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images North America)

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  • HoosierKid

    Crean is an average coach and the team lucked out on the early victories. In the Kansas game IU was able to overcome the 18 turnovers by hitting 15 of 31 3pts while Kansas hit 7 of 24 open 3pts. From what I recall, the calls were pretty suspect in the UNC game not to mention UNC shot 13 of 22 at the free throw line. A better indication of this team were the losses to IPFW losing the turnover battle 15 to 8 and losing at home to Nebraska while turning the ball over 19 times. Nobody can win consistently or make a run in the tourney turning the ball over 15-20 times per game. Turnovers and defense are two things where talent matter the least and coaching becomes most important. Over the last 3 months Crean has not been able to improve on either of these areas or make the necessary lineup adjustments. How the head coach and best player (Bryant who is one of few on this team that really puts in the work and effort for what it takes to win) cannot change the attitude of the rest of the team is beyond me.

  • Tcuomo

    I honestly do not know. Contract law is very complicated and I am not a lawyer or agent. I would assume that is what was negotiated. Props to CTC’s agent. Remember, Glass extended Crean at the end of the 2013 season, but before the BIG Tourny or NCAA tournament started. At that moment in time, everything was on the up and up and Crean had momentum.

    Glass is not blameless in all of this. I thought it was a bad move at the time to extend CTC before the rest of the season played out. I also was not pleased with how Glass handled the hiring of the new football coach. He never interviewed a single candidate and took a big chance on a HS coach.

  • calbert40 – AC000000

    Thanks for doing the research, vicbert. I do have a couple questions for you (or anyone else).

    1) does it really (I mean really) matter if our players come from Indiana or Ohio or Florida? Dane Fife – MI, DJ White – Alabama, AJ Moye – Georgia, AJ Guyton – IL, Kirk Haston – TN, Jeff Newton – GA, CWat – AL, Victor Oladipo – MD, Will Sheehey – FL, OG – MO, Thomas Bryant – NY. There are plenty of others. These guys were/are studs. We need to have a good number of Indiana players, but I think we get too concerned with this stat, tbh. Just get the best players.

    2) How many of those players are “One and Done?” Crean has shown that he doesn’t really care to recruit those players any more, and I tend to agree with him.

    1 Observation: Comparing MSU, OSU and IU is very interesting. If we go back to the 2011-2012 season, here is the tale of the tape:

    Indiana – .678 winning percentage, 2 B1G titles, 0 B1G Tourney titles, 3 Sweet 16, 0 Final Four, 6-4 NCAA record.

    MSU – .744 winning percentage, 1 B1G title, 2 B1G Tourney titles, 4 Sweet 16, 1 Final Four, 11-5 NCAA record

    OSU – .700 winning percentage, 1 B1G title, 1 B1G Tourney title, 2 Sweet 16, 1 Final Four, 8-4 NCAA record.

    Considering that those two programs have had “better talent,” according to recruiting services, should we be impressed that IU has a very similar record over the past six years? Obviously, those two teams have 1 Final Four appearance during that time, which is obviously better, but….there are many similarities.

  • dssnyder

    Assume that all Minnesota players stats will be inflated after they play the Hoosiers.

  • inadvertentelbows_stillhurt

    All have won in last 30 years.. again young kids aren’t into ancient history..just old men… Indiana isnt even in convo with those schools for anyone 30 and younger

  • N71

    I’m one who thinks recruiting Indiana kids is important. I’ve seen how a star player from a large Indiana school comes in and has a built in following amongst the student body. It even translates beyond their particular school, Yogi (Park Tudor) was followed by kids from North Central, Carmel, HSE, Fishers, Zionsville, Pike, Broad Ripple, Cathedral, Chatard, Brebeuf, and others because they’d heard or knew him personally since they were young. Yogi in turn was likely committed to doing good by that support group, he’d be much less likely to just quit like a kid from state xyz that’s far away when faced with adversity. Its hard to measure but it equates to a type of toughness, mental mostly. Indiana kids for the most part are well coached from the earliest years so they know the game and by them wearing “Indiana” across their chest, having a large support system within the student body, its nearly tangible, I lived it firsthand. Hiring a coach that’s not from the state runs the risk of their not valuing this aspect of Indiana and its basketball culture. People say it doesn’t matter, I disagree, but explaining why it matters is complicated, you almost have to live it to understand.

  • John D Murphy

    I think if you subtracted wins against +200 RPI teams those winning pcts would be a little different.

  • John D Murphy

    There is really nothing complicated about TC’s defense. I’ll sum it up.
    1. Nobody talk to teammates
    2. Find the area where you really aren’t connected to any offensive player
    3. Make sure to yield the 3 pt line
    4. Don’t look at either the or your man
    5. But most important…Defense starts with offense so be sure to have a lot of turnovers so the other team scores fast

  • John D Murphy

    Just curious. Is this from your site?

  • vicbert caladipo

    I didn’t get that far to break down states of other schools outside Indiana. This stat wiped me out as it is. The top 20 and top 10 were for all schools, included were the top 9 and MSU I put in at 10 to show top bigten school.

  • Brad

    How dare you question the success of Tom Crean. Crean is the best coach of any sport at any level in the history of the world. IMO, he deserves a lifetime contract with any salary he chooses. He’s better than Wooden, Phil Jackson, Red, Smith, and all the rest. Show some respect to the great Thomas Crean.

  • Brad

    I’m sorry but watching Crean get checked into the scorers table by the Michigan player was the greatest thing I’ve seen all season. I’m convinced it’s a sign of things to come.

  • vicbert caladipo

    That’s why I also listed a separate category for ALL STATES. The in-state was just a part

  • IdahoHoosier

    Being invited to and participating in the NIT would be less “mediocre” than nothing. Doesn’t look like IU will have to worry about it, but if they do get an invite to some post-season tourney I just hope they don’t decline. Declining would imply (or declare) that IU is “above” a certain tourney, or that “this team doesn’t deserve to play post-season” or something to that affect.

  • Smilinjayd

    He is what his record says he is. Every team has injuries. I wonder if sometimes athletes are not properly trained for strength and flexibility in bilateral limbs equally?? I simply look at other programs and wonder why we cant be consistently better than Butler, Wichita State, Villanova, Florida and similar teams? CTC…..

  • Ole Man

    ROFL! Thanks.

  • vicbert caladipo

    To your first question. No it doesn’t matter where ya get em. Just a lot of people have knocked CTC for not recruiting Indiana well. I was just curious how true that was. Point 2…NO I don’t like one and done guys either….we aren’t UK.. The rest of your reply can be answered as I was merely on the recruiting subject. As for what coaches achieve with their recruits is another topic.

  • Smilinjayd

    Does anyone on this forum believe IU could actually win a couple of games in the NIT? Not the way they are playing.

  • vicbert caladipo

    And by Moritz Vagner at that!! But as he said in his presser. He bounced right back up. Sooner or later if you live on the court you will be ploughed

  • kennygeorge

    yes vic, ths for your effort. truly appreciated.

  • IdahoHoosier

    Great points N71. The main thing is that (arguably) the best, most prestigious basketball school in the state SHOULD have an advantage in recruiting in-state talent. That doesn’t mean in-state talent is necessary to win NCs, and doesn’t mean IU will always get all the best in-state guys. Totally agree it helps the fan-base and the school to have “local hero” type guys. I personally hope the trend tilts toward getting more Indiana kids at IU, even if that means “doing more with less”.

  • IdahoHoosier

    Appreciate you bringing light to the good that goes along with the bad. It is hard for a fan to remember things can be, and have been, worse. CTC deserves respect and credit for some great accomplishments as well as blame for some of the issues. Thanks for the balanced perspective!

  • Banner Up

    JBJ is highly overrated

  • IU Hoosiers # 34, 1979-83

    Vicbert, what do you think the score will be tonight.?

  • Banner Up

    What about TC getting run over?

  • Banner Up

    74-61 Minny, unfortunately

  • vicbert caladipo

    Some quotes from the TROLL that anyone can go to his history and see who the liar is……..To Koko….. I’m again the bad guy(and I’m the one who is insecure..haha what a joke). Some other doozies from oldest to new. To Indiana Hoops…You seem to be in desperate need of medication. I’m starting to wonder if you’re even capable of a rational thought. To Bnkepner…..I just proved you and CM Newton wrong. To John D. Murphy(in disagreement) LMFAO. To Forever IU….I said you sound like a liberal. I’ve never seen anyone get so butt hurt over nothing(this one was so good he posted it twice) You sound like a liberal. Don’t know any fan can think like you. To Ole Man..(after being called out for trolling posters) I’m perfectly content on being on the opposite of the fence with supposed fans and judging me after 4 posts. To PC Antidote….I guess you have to exaggerate to make a point since nothing else is working. Nothing like arguing from both sides of the fence, huh. But of course being smug, vague and contradictory are your best attributes. To Ivy Walls…..what the hell are you talking about. To Gregory Spera ..I get tired of the ignorance.
    Then there’s myself who he loves to death including some good ones today and Koko. I have had a couple beefs myself…I won’t lie like the TROLL, but I never started them and outside of him they were diffused quickly. These are not paraphrases but actual quotes anyone can see by clicking on the profile. The named posters not wanting to get involved know how he is. So who’s the liar now Mr. Troll? I expect some more insults in your reply as saying I am stalking you and worry too much about you. Fact is. I think this is amusing or I wouldn’t waste my time. He is easily rattled and just his pronouncement of not watching anymore shows he is weak and can’t handle a little adversity.

  • vicbert caladipo

    And one more thing TROLL. While you are here wasting time arguing with people and quitting watching I actually contributed something to the group that took a few hours of work that a few posters appreciated. What do you contribute other than your opinion which when disagreed with results in name calling and belittling. How about adding something of value??

  • vicbert caladipo

    77-69 Minny

  • vicbert caladipo

    In the NIT…absolutely, but it all depends on if the kids have had enough of CTC and this horrible season. If they go in with the mindset that they can win and play with desire they can win the NIT. This is a team where the light hasn’t turned on for the kids. Maybe the NIT will be the lightbulb. One can hope they even make it and accept it. Afterall BK won the NIT.

  • vicbert caladipo

    I think it should be up to the kids. CTC should have no say in it. If the kids want to play, enough of them to field a reasonable team, they should. I’d have a vote amongst every player. If enough want to play to field a team then go for it. For those nursing injuries or see no point in it can sit and cheer. I say WTH, you gotta at least try. What message does that send to say you don’t wanna play cuz it’s the NIT. I will never quit the team, my support and watching the game. I saw the other night where UWV was 13 up on Kansas with 2 mins to go and the fans were filing out in droves. They showed video of fans trying to get back in as KU cut the lead to nothing and ends up killing them in OT for the win. Sometimes when you are a bandwagon fan and try to hop back on, the wagon has departed. You never know when or if this team will give you something to cheer about and I will be around always to find out. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Go IU

  • Smilinjayd

    If…… How many posts this year contain those 2 letters. Next, what have you seen the last 5 1/2 games to mske you so sure? I love you man, the Eternal Optimist.

  • BC

    Def nothing personal man and thanks for acknowledging. I’ve never heard TC take responsibility from a coaching failure perspective on a specific game or in the course of the season, I’ve heard him mention injuries this year and that’s what I was talking about. I wasn’t a fan of him throwing the juniors under the bus either. I think it’s the lack of coaching. Go Hoosiers

  • That is from the app “The Score”

  • calbert40 – AC000000

    Look it up. I think you’d be shocked at how many cupcakes big programs play. We aren’t weird.

    But we do need to cut out those 300+ RPI teams. No sense in playing them.

  • calbert40 – AC000000

    Our B1G record over that time period is within a game or two of OSU. MSU has won at least 12 games in conference each year, though. That’s incredible! They probably won’t this year, but still incredible run for them. Yet, we still own more conference titles over that period than either of them.

  • calbert40 – AC000000

    Again, thanks for the research. I’m sure that took you a good amount of time! The only reason I even asked was that the Indiana recruit is kind of a peeve of mine. I understand the rationale of those making the claims, but I couldn’t care less where the kid comes from…so long as he can play, he can play for me/us/IU. BUT, we should still recruit the state better, because it is incredibly fertile ground.

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  • INUnivHoosier2

    Yeah. Brain fart.

  • IdahoHoosier

    Great point for the fans Vic, and wonderful idea of asking the players about the post-season. There may be a coaching position opening up at IU, I’ll throw your hat in the ring.

  • John D Murphy

    There are cupcakes and there are cupcakes. Fort Wayne was supposed to be a cupcake but not in the same vane as Houston Baptist. The avg RPI of our cupcakes is much higher than most high profile teams.