The NCAA Tournament is approaching, and bracketologists believe that if Indiana wins their last two regular season games, they’re in the tournament. Unfortunately, the Big Ten is chaotic, so Indiana has to be ready Wednesday against a tough Minnesota Gophers basketball team even though the Hoosiers won by double digits on the road against them earlier in the year.

After defeating Minnesota on the road and a tough ranked Penn State team at home, the Hoosiers failed to win both at Purdue and at Illinois. This is highly unfortunate, as Indiana’s chances of making the tournament would have significantly increased if they won either of those road games.

On a positive note, Indiana is hosting Minnesota who only has two true road wins this year. Indiana is solid at home this year, only losing to Arkansas, Purdue and Maryland. Furthermore, Indiana has impressive home victories against ranked opponents Florida State, Ohio State, Michigan State, and Penn State.

Indiana (18-11, 8-10 B1G) might feel the pressure Wednesday against the Gophers, as many consider this game to be a “must win” in order to make the tournament even though their resume involves six quad one wins and zero quad three losses.

How to Watch

WhoIndiana Hoosiers vs Minnesota Golden Gophers
WhenWednesday, Mar 4, 2020, 7:00 p.m. ET
WhereAssembly Hall — Bloomington, Indiana.
TicketsFind the Lowest Tickets on SeatGeek
ListenIU Sports Network
StatsLive Stats

Getting to know the Gophers

Minnesota (13-15, 7-11 B1G) comes into Bloomington cold as they have dropped 5 of their last 6 games. However, they almost managed to pull off two major upsets at home against Maryland and on the road at Wisconsin. Unfortunately, they lost both of those games by one possession.

When talking about the Gophers this year, one name clearly stands out and that is Daniel Oturu. The 6-foot-10 sophomore currently averages a double-double at 20.2 points and 11.4 rebounds and occasionally can threaten opponents from deep. After the graduation of Jordan Murphy, Oturu’s activity inside has drastically improved over the last year. He shoots 57.3% from the field and is threatening from three point land, shooting 34% on two attempts per game. Although Oturu struggled against the Hoosiers last time, he looks to bounce back and will surely demand attention from Indiana’s defense.

Here are some more things to note about the Gophers this season:

Minnesota is currently KenPom #31, which is better than Indiana. Additionally, the next best 15+ loss team in KenPom is Washington at #60.

41% of Minnesota’s FGAs are three pointers, and Indiana allows a 38.7% three-point rate. Essentially, the Gophers shoot a lot of threes, and Indiana allows opposing teams to shoot a lot of three-point attempts. This is potentially a good matchup for Indiana because Minnesota is currently 29.5% from deep in conference play which is the worst in the Big Ten.

When looking at Minnesota’s defense, they do not force many turnovers, and they have the worst TO% (turnovers as a % of possessions) in the league in conference games. They are coming off three straight games where their opponent has turned it over less than 10 times.

Since February 1st, Gopher opponents have shot only 26.6% from deep. When IU was victorious at Minnesota on Feb. 19th, they only shot 4-14 from three.

Regarding specific players on Minnesota, Gabe Kalscheur has the worst FG% in conference play for players who take at least 10 shots per game. Oturu has the 2nd highest behind Jalen Smith. Furthermore, Oturu is on pace to become first 20 and 10 guy in conference play since fellow Gopher Kris Humphries. Lastly, Marcus Carr leads the Big Ten in minutes per game in conference play and is 3rd in assists after Zavier Simpson and Cam Mack.

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. Jackson-Davis vs. Oturu Part 2

The last time these two faced each other, Jackson-Davis finished with 27 points and 16 rebounds on 11-15 shooting. Oturu finished the game with 11 points and 14 rebounds on 5-15 shooting. Both big men were also active on the offensive glass. Jackson-Davis had 4 offensive rebounds and Oturu had 5.

The question is can Indiana contain him once again, not just offensively but defensively? In the last matchup, Race Thompson also made a significant impact defending Oturu as well. The issue this time is that Thompson might be in early foul trouble like he was at Illinois. Furthermore, can De’Ron Davis and Joey Brunk step up if called upon this time. Against Illinois last Sunday, Brunk also ended up in early foul trouble as well.

Another factor is how Indiana could not contain Illinois freshman Kofi Cockburn. While Cockburn started off slow in the first half, he dominated both ends of the floor in the second half helping Illinois secure a close win against Indiana. Indiana had problems sealing him off underneath the basket, allowing Illinois’ guards to make clean entry passes. We’ll see if the Hoosiers can adjust this time against Carr and Oturu.

2. Make Minnesota Shoot From the Perimeter

What is interesting is how Minnesota continues to shoot a lot of three-pointers yet is last in the Big Ten in three-point %. Out of all the Gophers, Kalscheur, Willis, and Carr shoot the most three-pointers on this team, and none of them shoot higher than 35% from deep. If the Hoosiers find a way to limit Oturu inside, that will likely force Minnesota to shoot more shots from deep.

3. Race Thompson, The X Factor?

It was interesting to see Archie Miller send out Race Thompson start the second half for Indiana on Sunday against Illinois. During the last meeting against Minnesota, Thompson scored 9 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, while making all 3 of his free throws. Furthermore, a majority of the most successful lineups on the road against Purdue and Illinois involved Race Thompson. It seems clear at this point Indiana’s big man depth significantly involves the presence of Thompson, and he’ll surely look to repeat his fantastic performance at Minnesota this Wednesday at home.

4. Trayce Jackson-Davis vs. The Double Team

It should be safe to assume that Minnesota will try to disallow Jackson-Davis to get 15 shot attempts off this Wednesday because he was the MVP for the Hoosiers in the last meeting. Indiana should expect additional help on Jackson-Davis like they saw against Purdue and Illinois. Ideally, the response is for the supporting cast to be ready on the perimeter and punish the Gophers from deep. Indiana shot 8-16 from deep at Illinois which is impressive. If pressure on Jackson-Davis opens up looks from three, Indiana should not shy away, specifically Devonte Green, who is shooting 37% from deep this season and has shown that if he gets going, Indiana’s chances of winning improve.

Featured Photo: IndianaHQ

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