The Minute After: Minnesota

FINAL SCORE: Minnesota 81, Indiana 58

Here’s an easy way to game plan against the Hoosiers: pound it inside all game long.

As the Spartans showed us Tuesday and the Gophers displayed this evening — it works. IU just doesn’t have the length, athleticism or the skill to guard the block, and guys like Ralph Sampson III took advantage.  Minnesota’s guards also beat IU off the dribble on several occasions, leading to some easy points right around the rim. The Gophers scored 38 of their 81 points in the paint this evening to IU’s 16.

And when they weren’t hitting down low, they were raining threes. Minnesota hit 7-of-11 in the first half and hit 9-of-20 for the game for 45 percent. IU only shot 32 percent from the floor. Ouch.

The Hoosiers simply aren’t defending as of late. This now marks the eighth straight game their opponent has shot better from the field, to coincide with their eighth straight loss. And during this eight-game losing streak, IU has also only managed to shoot better than 40 percent twice — against Wisconsin and Purdue.

When you fail to get points in the paint and your shot gets blocked at an alarming rate  — in total, the Hoosiers get 12.7 percent of their shots blocked, which ranks them 332 out of the 347 Division I teams in the country — it’s hard to shoot a high percentage or be efficient, especially when your jump shots aren’t falling. Add in all the turnovers and the scoring droughts — IU failed to hit a field goal for a stretch of 9:15 in the first half; they only made two shots the last 6:05 of the second half — and you can see why the Hoosiers’ offense has struggled so bad.

If nothing else, this team is still finding a way to get to the line: they shot 22 — though only made 14 — free throws on the night to the Gophers’ 14. Without that in recent games, it’d be more ugly than it is.

“Outgunned and outmanned,” is how Kendall Gill described this one for IU tonight. I have a feeling this won’t be the last time we’ll be able to describe such a loss for this team before season’s end.

Live Blog: Indiana at Minnesota

Pick to Click: Minnesota

Picks are due by 7:45 p.m. ET on Saturday. Updated standings will be available sometime on Sunday.

Also, a few housekeeping items regarding the site, after the jump:

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Rivals: IU offers 6-foot-9 senior Moses Abraham

What a name. We’re working on trying to confirm this, but seeing as it’s dinner time on Friday night, that’s proving rather difficult.

Some vitals: Rivals has Abraham, who coach Tom Crean reportedly offered last night, listed at 6-foot-9, 237 pounds, with offers from Georgetown, Florida, Tennessee, Texas, UCLA and UConn, among many others. Rivals’ player page suggests Georgetown is leading for Abraham right now, something we’re also working to confirm.

Again, we’ll get back with you as soon as we know more.

Update: Here’s a YouTube video (thanks to B-Town IU Alumn for pointing this out) with some Abraham clips. He’s wearing No. 12 in the black.

Meet Florida Air Academy’s Will Yeguete

Well, actually, we’re still trying to get ourselves acquainted with the 6-7, 210-pound power forward from the Florida Air Academy. I assigned Zach the task of trying to get in touch with Yeguete’s coach, Aubin Goporo. (Well, not really, I just asked him to do it and he happily obliged.) However, those attempts have been unsuccessful.

So what have we learned about Yeguete? Not nearly enough, but here’s what we do know: He’s 18 and is in his second season at the Florida Air Academy after arriving from France. According to this story, penned last month by Mike Cherry of Florida Today, Yeguete spent several years living on the Ivory Coast.

Yeguete does have a scholarship offer from Indiana, but it’s unclear as to what other schools have offered. The story we referenced earlier by Cherry mentioned the following schools: Sam Houston State, St. John’s, Oklahoma, Marquette, Drake, Nevada, Purdue, Rhode Island and George Washington. (Rivals claims IU, Sam Houston State, Southern Illinois and St. John’s have offered while Scout claims Drake, Southern Illinois, St. John’s and Rhode Island have offered.)

Here are a few stat lines from recent games for Yeguete, who is unranked by Rivals.com and a three-star prospect on Scout.com:

+ Nine points in a 65-29 win over Satellite on February 6.

+ 21 points in a 63-62 win over Pine Crest (No. 1 Rivals.com player Brandon Knight’s team) on February 2.

+ 20 points in a 60-53 loss to the Rock School on January 29.

But beyond the points, Yeguete is best known for his rebounding prowess. As of mid-January, he was reportedly averaging upwards of 15 rebounds per game. Dave Telep, the national director of recruiting for Scout.com, had Yeguete with 50 rebounds in three games in last September’s Nike Team Florida Fall Workout.

That, my friends, is what we know about Will Yeguete. We will continue to attempt to make contact with his coach and get more information, but since he’s looking like a potential addition to the 2010 class, this update, albeit brief, felt warranted. Happy Friday.

Handicapping the race for the Big Ten title

NCAA Final Four Practice - Michigan State SpartansSo I know talking about the Big Ten title race is sort of like rubbing sea salt into an open wound for a lot of you right now.

But seeing as it’s actually pretty compelling right now, I thought it pertinent to get a discussion going here as to just who you all think will take home regular-season honors this season as we hit the stretch run. Just to set the stage:

Five teams are within 1 1/2 games of first place in the league. They are, in order: Michigan State, Purdue, Ohio State, Illinois and Wisconsin. There are still games left to play between said contenders:

+ Michigan State: Ohio State, at Purdue.
+ Purdue: Michigan State, Illinois.
+ Ohio State: at Michigan State, Illinois.
+ Illinois: at Purdue, at Ohio State, Wisconsin.
+ Wisconsin: at Illinois.

Given the remaining schedule and the way things stand right now, a couple of things jump out. First, Wisconsin seems to have the easiest run in, with games left against Minnesota, Indiana and Iowa, but the Badgers are also that team 1 1/2 games out.

Purdue has won eight straight, including at Michigan State and at Ohio State. The Boilers look like a team that’s figuring everything out at just the right time, as we cliched sportswriters tend to say, and their lone remaining top-five conference games are at home.

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Marquis Teague will decide after junior season

Marquis Teague, the point guard from Indianapolis Pike who is rated among the top players nationally in the 2011 class, will make a decision on where he’ll attend college shortly after his high school season concludes.

“He’s going to make a decision probably right at the conclusion of his high school season. Or somewhere in between there and June,” Shawn Teague, Marquis’ father, told Inside the Hall on Tuesday night. “I wanted him to take his time and he’s pretty much at that point where he’s confident in sitting down and really talking about making the decision.”

Teague, who is considering a list of schools that includes Indiana, Louisville, Kentucky, Wake Forest, Cincinnati, Ohio State and Purdue, isn’t as concerned with the Hoosiers on the court results as he is with the direction of the program, according to his father.

“We can see the direction that they’re heading,” he said. “It’s a great situation from that standpoint. Wins and losses, at this stage of the game, that’s not a big concern for us. We know and feel pretty comfortable and confident in terms of the direction and what role that he should be able to play in that process. Indiana is Indiana. And the program speaks for itself.”

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