It’s back to the drawing board, again. It seems that whenever the Hoosiers have anything good going, there is an inevitable road bump that knocks them back humbly. After a tough road loss against Michigan where the Hoosiers played some of the worst defense all season long, Archie Miller continues the road trip with his team as they go up north to Minneapolis to take on the 12-12 Golden Gophers, who have currently lost four out of their last five games. Most recently, Richard Pitino’s team took a heartbreaking home loss to Iowa where a last minute run put the Hawkeyes on top.

For reference, 16-9 Indiana is in a similar situation as they have lost five of their last six.

The Hoosiers, who are currently ranked 49 in KenPom, will be taking on the number 31 team in the country despite the gap in overall records. Minnesota is currently the 35th best team according to adjusted offense and the 48th best team according to adjusted defense.

How to Watch

WhoIndiana Hoosiers at Minnesota Golden Gophers
WhenWednesday, Feb 19, 2020, 9:00 p.m. ET
WhereWilliams Arena — Minneapolis, Minn.
TicketsFind the Lowest Tickets on SeatGeek
ListenIU Sports Network
StatsLive Stats
SpreadMINN -6, O/U 136

Getting to know the Gophers

If the John R. Wooden Award was given to a player in the Big Ten, Iowa’s Luka Garza is currently the most probable. However, right behind him from the Big Ten is Minnesota’s Daniel Oturu, who is currently ranked eighth overall in KenPom’s Player of the Year predictor.

The 6-foot-10 sophomore Minnesota-native ranks among the top 100 players in the nation in effective field goal percentage, true shooting percentage, offensive rebounding percentage, and block percentage. He ranks just outside the top 100 in defensive rebounding percentage at 102.

Oturu currently averages a double-double at 19.9 points and 11.3 rebounds. He is an offensive powerhouse and his activity in the paint makes him one of the top rebounders in the league, now that the Gophers have graduated Jordan Murphy. He shoots 57.6% on the floor, which includes being a respectable 30% shooter from distance. Minnesota’s star big does it all for the Gophers and he will be one of the main forces to handle for the Hoosiers.

With his 7-foot-3 wing span, Oturu’s defensive presence is simply scary as he has been getting 2.7 blocks per game for the Gophers. The Hoosiers have been somewhat turnover prone in recent games and another lengthy opponent will continue to create problems for Archie Miller’s group.

Indiana is coming off of a tough game where they were completed blown out on the boards against Michigan. The Wolverines ability to position in the paint caused a ton of problems for Indiana’s bigs who have played relatively all season long up until that point. It will be another test for the Indiana frontcourt on Wednesday evening.

Surrounding Oturu, the Gophers have a number of scorers that compose of Minnesota’s offense, which ranks top 35 in adjusted offense according to KenPom. Sophomores Marcus Carr and Gabe Kalscheur are the younger pair of guards for the Gophers, but that has not hindered the backcourt duo. The former-Pitt player is currently averaging 15.4 points and 5.9 rebounds. He is the Gophers main facilitator getting 6.9 assists per game, which is good for second in the entire Big Ten.

Carr is a relentless attacker and is consistently looking to feed his big in the paint. He can be overly focused on scoring, which results in some lapses in coverage on defense. Depending on who he is assigned, Indiana may have some opportunities to take advantage of the offensive match up.

Kalscheur should be a more familiar name for Indiana fans, but probably for the wrong reasons. He dropped 20 points on the Hoosiers last season, going 6 of 8 from behind the arc. His three-point percentage has declined since last season as he is now only making about one out of every three attempts.

Junior Payton Willis rounds out Minnesota’s backcourt. The Arkansas-native will be the sharpshooter that Indiana has to cover closely. Willis is averaging a career-high 9.1 points per game, which includes a career-high 38.2% shooting from three-point territory.

Alihan Demir finishes the Minnesota starting five. The Turkey-native has played in a number of stops previously, including a season at Central Wyoming and two seasons at Drexel. The 6-foot-9 senior adds needed size to the Gophers’ lineup and plays opportunistically. Demir knows that he is not the most athletic body in the building, so instead of trying to jump out of the gym, he relies on fundamentals and being in the right place at the right time. Demir also adds a much needed defensive flavor to the team, as that was one of the biggest characteristics of his recruitment to Minnesota.

Even though he assumes the power forward position, he prefers to play around the paint, instead of being inside. Oturu’s zone is in the paint, so Minnesota avoids clogging the lanes to allow their sophomore to work. Demir had a couple of seasons of high percentage three-point shooting; however he has since taken a bit of a dip. He is shooting just shy of 30% this season from distance.

Projected Starting Lineups

Indiana HoosiersMinnesota Golden Gophers
G: #1 Al Durham (Jr.)G: #5 Marcus Carr (So.)
G: #10 Rob Phinisee (So.)G: #22 Gabe Kalscheur (So.)
F: #3 Justin Smith (Jr.)G: #0 Payton Willis (Jr.)
F: #4 Trayce Jackson-Davis (Fr.)F: #30 Alihan Demir (Sr.)
C: #50 Joey Brunk (RS Jr.)C: #25 Daniel Oturu (So.)

What to Watch for

1. Another battle of the bigs in the Big Ten

For being known for their big men, the Hoosiers played a very disappointing game against Jon Teske and Austin Davis at Michigan. Indiana’s confusion when handling pick and roll situations gives an open playbook for Richard Pitino to take advantage with a more talented Daniel Oturu in the paint.

Can Indiana respond? De’Ron Davis had the best game among all of Indiana’s bigs, which includes Joey Brunk and Trayce Jackson-Davis who are the team’s starters. The game is going to be very ugly in the paint and it will be another grinding conference game.

Even if the Hoosiers are unable limit Oturu, which the Iowa game shows that it is not 100% a necessity to win, they absolutely have to win the battle of the boards on Wednesday night. If Oturu is able to collect second chances, Indiana is going to be in big trouble once again.

2. Keeping Minnesota’s supporting cast cool

One of the best tactics that worked for the Hoosiers was to allow Garza to have his way; however, Indiana did a fairly good job limiting the rest of the supporting cast. In the case of Minnesota, that cast is specifically Carr, Kalscheur, and Willis. The Hoosiers have to find a way to make sure that those players are limited in what they can do.

Do not get flustered at the barrage under the basket by Oturu. Keep calm and carry on against the rest of the players and let the scheme do the heavy lifting.

3. Who is Indiana’s next jump starter?

The Hoosiers have been more successful on offense as of late, and a lot of it has to do with the quick early starts. Against Michigan, Al Durham led the charge in the first half with impressive play that seemed to be contagious and carry over to other players like De’Ron Davis.

Once again, the opening is extremely critical for the Hoosiers to set the scene. Who will step up for the Hoosiers in the Barn? It seems like time is due for Rob Phinisee or Justin Smith who have been fairly quiet recently.

4. The bounceback of Trayce Jackson-Davis

Jackson-Davis had arguably his worst game of the season against Michigan, where he was only able to collect 5 points and 2 rebounds. That’s not a stat line that Indiana fans are used to seeing from their star freshman from Center Grove High School.

It’s worth noting that teams have done a better job scouting Jackson-Davis and they have been able to better deny his looks. Whether or not it involves double teaming, Jackson-Davis is one of the top priorities for opposing defenses and he will continue to be one of the main scouts for each Indiana game. Archie Miller and assistant coach Mike Roberts need to introduce wrinkles into Jackson-Davis’s game to reinvigorate his play.

Featured Photo: Gopher Sports

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