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:

  • Arch Puddington

    RIght, plus the fact that he stretches the defense whether he is shooting well or not. No coach in America would deliberately leave a guy like him open on the perimeter, even if he had missed his previous 10 shots. That opens up driving lanes and entry passes for others. He also averages 5 rebounds per game, a fact that was directly connected to the win against UNC. He made a couple of big time rebounds down the stretch, including one (as I recall) when they had closed the lead to four.

    And while it’s not saying much, he actually turns the ball over less frequently than any primary ball handler on our team other than CuJo. He’s a weak defender, but he impacts the game in a variety of ways.

  • pcantidote

    Two narratives that I am tired of are (1) the IU job isn’t a destination and (2) we can’t possibly find anyone better than CTC. I know you didn’t say the 2nd one.

    UNC didn’t stop being a destination because Dougherty (sp?) ran it into the ground. UK didn’t stop being a destination because Gillespie ran it into the ground. I could go on and on. We have the history, facilities, fan base, local talent, conference, and cachet and are most certainly a destination that any ambitious coach with a competitive fire would run to rather than view as a headache.

  • AndyCapp

    I think YF coached them up last year. MAN are we missing an on-floor general!

  • Sherronhasaheadache

    i expect to not be watching another L

  • DonaldneedsAsafeSpace

    Yes, Yogi was a fighter ever since he started getting noticed in middle school. That’s on record

  • AndyCapp

    All I can say is at least Donald backs up his argument with SOME stats. Sideline seems enamored with his own reflection

  • pcantidote

    and therein lies the problem.

  • calbert40 – AC000000

    Crean won’t be fired this season even if we finish sub .500, because his buyout is $4 million, if he’s fired before 7/1/17. After that, his buyout drops to $1 million. I firmly expect him to be our coach next year, but after this season, Glass will outline goals that must be accomplished, and if they aren’t, we will be looking for a new coach come April, 2018.

  • DonaldneedsAsafeSpace

    For you, it’s not a problem for me bc I don’t lose sleep over an internet forum. Get that sand outta your vag

  • calbert40 – AC000000

    I feel like that second one might be directed a little bit at me, so allow me to clarify my previous comments. I never said “we can’t possibly find anyone better.” My concern is that it won’t be as easy as many suggest, and if we get it wrong…well, let’s not talk about that.

    Many people want a coach who can get us to the FF. Crean has already done that, and most of the coaches with as good as or better pedigree than Crean won’t be available to us for varying reasons. That leads us to hiring a coach with projection (we think he can do it, though he hasn’t in the past).

    You and I have discussed some names that we think fit that bill (Miller, Keatts, etc), but the fact remains that there is some risk in that move. Not arguing with you so much as clarifying my opinion.

  • AndyCapp

    He should just go to the NBA. Then he could take his “genius” and what I imagine are overly complicated O/D schemes and confuse the heck out of well paid professionals

  • calbert40 – AC000000

    I still don’t understand why so many are so negative regarding Newkirk. He’s not Mason, but Mason is going to be All-B1G.

    Mason: 11.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 5.0 apg
    Newkirk: 8.6 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 3.3 apg

    Mason is obviously the better of the two, but Newkirk isn’t that far behind him.

  • JethroTroll

    Yeah, whatever you say.

  • AndyCapp

    Agree! SL makes an inflammatory or spurious comment and then flatulates for 7-8 follow on posts until the thread dies of asphyxiation

  • iugradmark

    I actually think both of you are right. The job pays very well, there are a lot of recruiting tools (facilities, fan support, state talent, etc.) but we have to be realistic. IU is not going to get Brad or some of the other desired names. Mostly because those coaches have good jobs already and are not looking to change and Indiana does not have the over the top money that Kentucky is willing to put into the program.

    So there is some risk that IU has to take meaning that they may be picking someone that is on the rise and we are going to have to project their ability to be successful at IU. I just don’t think that staying pat makes any sense. This is going to be difficult for Glass because he really wants Tom to succeed but we can’t suffer through these discussions every other year like we seem to be doing. 9 years is a pretty long time to give something a chance and I think we can see who we are under the Crean approach and it is not where this school deserves to be.

  • CreamandCrimson

    I think Newkirk has been a rare pleasant surprise in the past month but I do not consider him a point guard…I don’t think we have one. Green may develop into that but he’s not there yet and I have yet to see Newkirk consistently facilitate the offense to improve his teammates (something I consider a must for a true point guard).

  • calbert40 – AC000000

    Okay…I get you. I agree that Green may be our best available option at PG, which is interesting, because he was recruited as an off guard! I really like Green’s game.

  • pcantidote

    Fair enough, I am just of the view that the risk of getting it wrong is limited. I think you could plug just about any respectable name into THIS job and they could at least reproduce the mediocrity that we are seeing, give or take a little. Of course I guess someone could drag us through another NCAA violation disaster but you can’t let that fear overcome you.

  • AndyCapp

    I would also like to see TO stats between the two. Haven’t seen Mason play, and maybe JN is trending up, but seems from memory (not necessarily that reliable) like through the first half of the season JN had inordinately high TO margin for a PG.

  • pcantidote

    Good points. Right or wrong, the standards and expectations that we have set are what they are. So in a way, it isn’t even fair to drag CTC through this any longer. He is going to get a good job somewhere for sure. I just see very little downside at this point, especially since the early indications are that next year is going to be bad too.

  • pcantidote

    I bet we could gofundme that buyout in 24 hours.

  • CreamandCrimson

    Yet since playing 45 minutes and starting against Penn State, he has yet to exceed 13 minutes in a game (despite the junior guards just being publicly rebuked by the coach and continuing to play as much or more than anyone).

  • pcantidote

    He has been injured and had the flu since then.

  • AndyCapp

    – And CTC to display signs that say “Defense” and other missing fundamentals

  • INUnivHoosier2

    I guess at that point you are looking at a cost/benefit analysis. Is the $3m of cash worth the acceleration of a potentially foregone conclusion by one year?

  • CreamandCrimson

    I’m aware of the injury (hurt himself lifting) and the flu…bad timing. I think it’s a bit odd he was healthy enough to play 5-12 minutes but not 17-20. If the staff was truly as displeased with the junior guards as Tom Crean publicly said they are, I just don’t understand why they continue to play the heavy minutes they do and alternatives (Green, Gelon since we’ve already burned his RS) don’t see the floor. The bench has rarely been a motivator for Crean though so I’m not surprised.

  • INUnivHoosier2

    Although, I assume that buyout would be in lieu of his compensation for the next year, which would basically offset the $3m, right?

  • AndyCapp

    I don’t get it either. Not sure what we have left to play for other than getting an NIT bid or boosting the draft stock of players that CTC has publicly called out for their immaturity (and maybe lack of bball IQ). Give the others a chance to get experience and prepare for next year

  • pcantidote

    No one is losing sleep internet tough guy. This site is just much more enjoyable when you are not here, that’s all.

  • AndyCapp

    I could be wrong but didn’t Glass outline goals a couple of years ago that must be met? Maybe the goals weren’t all wins/losses, and maybe winning the B1G title last year created some cushion for CTC, but I can’t believe that this trainwreck of a season was one of the acceptable ones

  • inadvertentelbows_stillhurt

    Davis,Sampson,Dakich now Crean all had their turns… and when IU needed a strong great coach to lead us outta the dumps …they declined .. now when the program has Cook Hall.. re-done Assembly Hall… and CTC has brought back nation respect..dump him and go after one of those guys that didn’t want a few bad loosing seasons just chaps my hide ..

  • DonaldneedsAsafeSpace

    OK internet softy. You should get Vicbert’s number and just talk directly w him. You two are the only people with allowable opinions on this forum. Or become a moderator for Inside the Halls, otherwise STFU

  • pcantidote

    So you are in the mediocrity for life camp then? So many problems with your post….

    Davis? Please he was forced on us by the players.
    Dan D.? LOL. Try to be honest. He was never really our coach.

    What do even know about who wanted to come here and who didn’t? Which coach from back then would we even be pursuing now?

    The Cooks built Cook Hall, and the SImon Skodt’s rebuilt AH, not CTC.

    And NO, we are not nationally respected. We are presently a national enigma.

  • WhatsUpKnight2.0

    see, that’s a great line. because iu fans are turning into cubs fans. they’ll continue to show up for games, continue to support mediocrity, etc…next thing you know, 100 years have gone by. the cubs finally won the series because they got serious enough to care and hired theo.

  • DonaldneedsAsafeSpace
  • inadvertentelbows_stillhurt

    He just makes so many bad basketball plays…doesn’t keep head up and hit post players before they get their defense set…weird turnovers and bad shots…he has played better as the season has progressed but IU fans play favorites ….Hulls couldn’t guard anyone ..couldn’t handle traps or feed Cody and at times the only thing he had that was division1 ready was his jumper … AND WENT SCORELESS in the biggest IU game of his life..but fans love him to this day…guys constantly said “he plays so hard” or “he’s mentally tough” …I say damn if Yogi and Hulls would have played any kind of defense(yogi played great D his senior yr) IU WOULD HAVE BEEN IN FINAL 4

  • WhatsUpKnight2.0

    totally agree, said it a billion times myself.

  • DonaldneedsAsafeSpace

    JBJ avg’s 1.1 ppg more than his 2014/15 season(2 years ago). rebounds and blocking have gone down, assists slightly up and turnovers up an avg of a .5 a game

  • Tcuomo

    Well, the argument was if you fire him in 2017, you do it at the end of the season. Waiting until July 1 saves $3 million, but derails recruiting and summer workouts.

  • inadvertentelbows_stillhurt

    WHO is saying he built it???? It’s during his tenure… 30 year old championships don’t make a program great… and mediocrity to some programs is a blessing to others… no true blue blood has gone this long without a banner…even Kansas won in ’08..

  • pcantidote

    And that makes him a BUST? Give me a break. Back up your ridiculous statements or just shut up.

  • pcantidote

    So what is your point? Are we indebted to Crean forever? Are we not allowed to try to achieve something better than this? Geez.

  • DonaldneedsAsafeSpace

    Yes, compared to other 5 star recruits he is a BUST. Off my head, I know Eric Gordon(I think top 3 recruit) and Noah Vonleh outshined everyone their freshman year and were smart to move on. This kid will be lucky to see the NBA. I keep hearing, give him a break. It must be hard w expectations. Meanwhile, NBA commentators say the Curry’s lineage can’t be taught. So, is being a child of an extremely skilled pro a gift or a curse? Yes, I think he’s a bust. Any 5 star, above 90 pt recruit that can barely make the draft 3 years in is probably a bust

  • DonaldneedsAsafeSpace

    Thomas Bryant, despite having a year a lot of us thought would be better, is still more likely to make the league, despite being recruited lower

  • inadvertentelbows_stillhurt

    My point is holding CTC to wins with this banged up team with all the injuries is nonsense… JBJ & JM aren’t 100% plus O.G. and Colin out.. and folks still calling for blood and even hoping for loses so CTC goes is sickening. The injuries put more on other players.. they couldn’t handle it.. simple to me

  • DonaldneedsAsafeSpace

    He certainly has propelled IU to greatness. JBJ or Melo Trimble? Let’s stick to SGs. Josh Hart, Grayson Allen, or James Blackmon? Stats show he’s the worst of the bunch

  • DonaldneedsAsafeSpace

    I wonder how many ppg monk will have his junior year hahahaha

  • AssemblyBall

    “no true blue blood has gone this long without a banner” Let’s see: Kansas went 36 years between banners (1952 – 1988), North Carolina went 25 years (1957 – 1982), Kentucky had 2! 20 year gaps (’58 – ’78 and ’78 – ’96). The program is great and is a blue blood because only the following schools have won more than 3 championships under multiple coaches: UCLA, Kentucky, North Carolina, Connecticut, and Indiana. ‘Nuff said.

  • pcantidote

    Well I think you are highlighting the reasons why he will be back next year but unless we get some surprises with players coming back (CH, OG, TB, JBJ) and hold down the fort with no transfers, then the writing is already on the wall for next year too — and there is no way he survives another season like this.