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)

Filed to:

  • Ole Man

    Please not NC State. I live in North Carolina!

  • DonaldneedsAsafeSpace

    Not at all. OG is an athletic beast and was my absolute favorite player in the year LAST year, when the offense and defense didn’t revolve around him. Yogi continues to impress in the league, we all knew that kid had heart. I’m excited to for November 2017 for a fresh start to the season, regardless the coach 😛

  • calbert40 – AC000000

    I expect the unexpected from this team. I thought that they’d win their last two against PU and UM, because so much was at stake. I was wrong. Based on their uninspired play from the past few weeks, I expect them to get beat soundly this evening…which means they will probably play great and win.

    But we’ve taken some much better teams to The Barn against much worse Minny teams and left as losers. Tough environment, and I am worried about how our perimeter defense will contain Mason.

  • WhatsUpKnight2.0

    good stuff. of course they failed to mention his decline in recruiting (particularly in-state) and how next season will likely be devoid of pretty much any major impact player unless JBJROGTB stay(s) or our returning frosh get way better over the summer or one of the ’17 class ends up playing like a top25 talent. i wouldn’t bet the farm on any of these scenarios

  • DonaldneedsAsafeSpace

    Oh and Davis is awesome, I hope he stays at IU and continues to grow. Other than that, can’t find too much silver lining. How about you? What positives do you have?

  • AndyCapp

    Enough unnecessary blasting of ITH posters! TC offered no editorials and simply notated what the media pundints are saying… sheesh!

  • Koko

    LOL I thought of that after I wrote it….sorry.
    Lets go with PC and his choice of Mizzu.

  • Ole Man

    Wow! Overreact much?
    He didn’t bash him personally. He bashed the opinion.

  • DonaldneedsAsafeSpace

    Actually according to ESPN the first MU game he played 33 minutes but only took 3 shots, BEFORE he missed games bc of injury

  • pcantidote

    I think I just want them to be the same person because that would be one less obnoxious nitwit in the world.

  • Ole Man

    LOL!

  • JethroTroll

    Wow, thanx for clarifying what it’s supposed to be.

  • DonaldneedsAsafeSpace

    I wish they have his +/- on ESPN, I’d love to see that

  • Arch Puddington

    OK, I’ll give you that one. That brings our total to this:

    1. Double digits in 19 consecutive games before he got hurt.
    2. Four of his best six coming against Kansas, MSU, Butler, and Maryland.
    3. One dud against Michigan.

    Again, not a record that supports your claim.

  • AndyCapp

    No, TC offered no opinion, he simply rehashed what the media is saying and BC hit him over the head with a coach can’t coach comment (which I generally agree with btw, and KNOW from reading years of postings that you agree with too Ole Man). I know we are all frustrated with the way the season has devolved but just don’t think we need to go after each other when someone is just posting a comment to educate us as to what the national media are saying

  • BC

    It’s excuses, blaming others. That’s why we’re a mediocre program. Not trying to blast anyone other than the grown men getting paid lots of money that’s truly responsible for the state of OUR program

  • Arch Puddington

    Even if they did, that’s just moving the goal posts. Your claim was that he scores most against bad teams, and doesn’t show up for the big games. I have shown you otherwise.

  • INUnivHoosier2

    It’s more about perception than reality, IMO.

  • DonaldneedsAsafeSpace

    Next please tell me about his awesome Assist/TO ratio. For being an offensive “phenom,” when he was recruited I am thoroughly disappointed w his career at IU. IDK how there is even an argument really… I know he only played, what 13-15 games last year, but his overall stock hasn’t improved one bit. Kid averages 1 more pt per game, and every other stat line is worse.

  • AndyCapp

    I’ve got no problem laying blame where blame is obviously due. You and I, I think, both agree on where that lies. Bash the media for their opinions though, not the messenger

  • DonaldneedsAsafeSpace

    You have not, you have shown he is wildly inconsistent as there have been many big games, that he has not shown up for… Anyway, maybe his senior year he’ll be great, or maybe he’ll be a lottery pick(chuckle)

  • JethroTroll

    I look at it this way. Minny is the better team this year, they’re at home, and THEY are the team that’s playing for an NCAA bid.
    I’ve watched Minny this year, and they’re going to give IU problems with their length and depth. Im not seeing an inspired effort from the Hoosiers tonight, and it will take an extraordinary one for them to win.

  • CreamandCrimson

    Not only will Mason be the “best” PG on the floor…he’ll be the “only” PG on the floor.

  • DonaldneedsAsafeSpace

    For a kid who’s only talent is shooting and who is on the floor 3/4 of the game and game under 15 is a complete waste of a position. Rather have a well rounded team player that gets 8-10 a game, that plays defense and passes well than a guy who chucks up as many shots as possible and gets between 10 and 20. Just my opinion though. IMO, I was 100% on the bus that believed we got substantially better when he left last year. He is like Melo of my knicks(though not nearly as good of a shooter, obviously), he demands the ball, but the team’s performance struggles bc of it

  • DonaldneedsAsafeSpace

    JBJ is a major bust of a recruit, if that’s not recognized across the board by now then so be it. Kids glory days were HS

  • AndyCapp

    So which would be the bigger disaster… waiting until after July 1 or having CTC coach another year?

  • Koko

    Nice and I agree with all you said….hoping the new recruits come in and play well…no matter who is coaching. Looking at who might or will be coming back I think next season is something to look forward to. I’d like to see DD, JM, DG, Cujo, GG, JN and RJ back with Durham, Smith and the 6′ 10″ Moore spelling DD. I am of course looking forward to next season and how things unfold this summer. My level of excitement would be higher with a new coach.

  • DonaldneedsAsafeSpace

    I also recall him missing a completely open layup vs Nebraska that would have tied the game in the final minute. CLUTCH!

  • pcantidote

    JBJ averages 17 a game and shoots 47% from the field. It has been shown to you that those stats were not inflated against bad teams. If JBJ is a bust, I’ll take more busts please.

  • pcantidote

    Assist/TO ratio? He is a shooting guard. Do you even watch basketball?

  • DonaldneedsAsafeSpace

    Same, I’d love to steal Archie from Dayton, but I think he likes it there. Plus the environment of their home games seems awesome. Also, I’m not really sure what to think of DG and CuJo. Two kids who have been wildly inconsistent this season as well(I think it stems from a very erratic coach). I find it harder and harder to have faith in returning players, as REALLY good players typically don’t make it past sophomore year(Obviously there are exclusions, IE YOGI), or they are great freshman you have your fingers crossed will come back. With that said DD stock isn’t high enough for him to leave. IF, and it’s a big IF CTC gets fired, I’m sure we will loose a large junk of the players unless the replacement is well known/proven. Kinda just the way it goes

  • JethroTroll

    You need guys with different roles on a team to be successful. Blackmon is an elite shooter and he’s capable of getting to the rim. In other words, he can score. That’s his role. Is he a complete player? No. But, he can be lethal asset on the right team, one that can absorb and make up for his flaws.

  • DonaldneedsAsafeSpace

    Getting to the rim? about as well as rojo gets to the rim. 1/3 of the time. The other 2/3 they stop and turn it over on pass or get blocked. I’d rather have Nick Zeisloft(god I miss him) then JBJ. I bet if we look up stats, NZ was a much more consistent shooter.

  • Tcuomo

    I don’t think BC was trying to get personal. I didn’t take it personally. But Andy is right. I was trying to provide opinions of those outside the scope of ITH and IU bball in general. I think its good to provide opinions of those not tied to the IU program. I was hoping for a little more discussion/detail than “You’ve obviously never seen TC coach”, but I guess I should have anticipated that with all the fan frustration right now. BC, you lost me with the “It’s excuses, blaming others.” What exactly do you mean? Whos’ blaming others?

  • DonaldneedsAsafeSpace

    It doesn’t matter what position, you should be about even, not in the negatives.

  • BMusic

    Indiana, Our Indiana
    Indiana, we’re all for you
    We will fight for
    the Cream & Crimson,
    For the glory of Old IU
    Never daunted, we cannot falter
    In the battle, we’re tried and true
    Indiana, Our Indiana
    Indiana, we’re all for you.

  • DonaldneedsAsafeSpace

    I am an 100% believer we were a better team as a whole when he left last year. MAYBE Crean coached them up, but I don’t think that was the case

  • Tcuomo

    Just curious. Who is blaming others?

  • AndyCapp

    I feel like the rodeo bull is crapping all over this season!

  • DonaldneedsAsafeSpace

    23 vs umass Lowell, 20 vs liberty, 18 vs Delaware, 24 vs Austin peay, 25 vs illinois

  • SilentBob

    Well on the bright side, the Thunder game starts just a half hour after IUs on espn. So if it gets ugly too quick I can just flip over and watch Vic instead.

  • JethroTroll

    Eh, I’d take Blackmon over Zeisloft, although Blackmon is my favorite type of player. I get what your getting at, but basketball isn’t played in a bubble. Werent you the one just the other day that said Hartman wouldn’t help this team because of his 5 PPG? Basketball isn’t as simple as you make it out to be.

  • DonaldneedsAsafeSpace

    No, I stayed out of that conflict bc I didn’t have a strong opinion. Read the argument though. I liked Hartman, solid 3 pt percent, solid rebounding skills and was a good impact player. A lot more successful than McRobberts.

  • Koko

    No problem….now don’t watch the game tonight….don’t peek and don’t look for the final score….LOL….see you tomorrow ITH.

  • inadvertentelbows_stillhurt

    Minny by 6.If CTC stays on its because Glass couldn’t get a significantly better replacement .Can’t recruit with coach in limbo…The IU job has turned into more headache than destination with unreal expectations from ancient history.

  • DonaldneedsAsafeSpace

    You can block me at any time and you won’t have to read my comments guy. You know what I’m tired of, Tom Crean apologists after 9 seasons. Well, there’s always next year!

  • pcantidote

    I’ve got a better idea — block yourself. Have you noticed how no one enjoys your contributions here?

  • AndyCapp

    BTN channel not available out here in Montana as part of our base cable subscription. The way this season has rolled out I’m almost glad I don’t havta spend the $$ to go to Bdubbs tonite to watch our Hoosiers play non-fundamental (is that a word?) bball… more fun anyway coming to ITH following the game and reading comments

  • HoosierKid

    What to expect:
    – 15+ IU turnovers
    – At least two Thomas Bryant 3pt shots
    – Minnesota FTM twice as many as IU
    – Wide open Gophers at the 3pt line
    – Davis to play under 15min
    – Tom Crean struggle to keep his pants at his waist throughout the night

  • DonaldneedsAsafeSpace

    I really couldn’t care less what you think of my contributions. Thank you very much for your thoughtful contributions, you are truly a shining light of information in this comment section!