(Photo Credit: Gophersports.com)
The Hoosiers go back on the road in the increasingly competitive Big Ten and travel to historic Williams Arena in Minneapolis, MN to face the Golden Gophers.
After an impressive road win against Michigan State, Indiana has now dropped two in a row at home against Iowa and Ohio State. The once safe-space for the Hoosiers to secure victories has now been lost and the Hoosiers are scrambling to pick up the rest of the season and secure a spot for the NCAA Tournament. Hope still remains for the Hoosiers, but it is becoming dimmer with each loss the Hoosiers accumulate.
Minnesota is ranked 52th overall, according to KenPom and are currently 8th in the Big Ten. The team also is ranked in the top 70 in both offensive and defensive efficiency. So far this year, Minnesota has largely flown under the radar largely because of the perception of their inconsistency and their consistently lackluster record and recruiting. It seems as if each season they are projected to take a step forward and each season find a way to stumble. They are always not quite good enough to trust but not quite bad enough to start over with a rebuild. This trend has continued this season. The Gophers started off 3-2 in conference play with victories over then – #24 Nebraska and then – #22 Wisconsin. But, as usual, the team soon promptly lost to conference bottom-feeder Illinois. Just as they take a step forward, they take two backward, which feels similar to the Hoosiers this season.
The Gophers have lost 4 straight coming into their match up against IU but these losses were all against some of the league’s best: Purdue, Wisconsin, Michigan State, and most recently Nebraska. The loss to Nebraska was particularly devastating, as Minnesota fell by only one point as Husker star James Palmer sunk two free-throws with 1.1 seconds remaining. Still, Minnesota has proven that they have the potential to be dangerous especially at home as seen by their 11-2 record. Indiana is only 2-7 on the road currently with wins against Penn State and Michigan State. The squad has 4 players that average double digits. Their offense is almost entirely predicated on being productive from the free-throw line and inside the arc. And like Indiana, Minnesota struggles from three but otherwise is quite efficient offensively.
Moreover, Minnesota is a terrific offensive rebounding team. Their offensive rebounding percentage is 34.1%, which is 36th in the nation and nearly 6 percentage points higher than the national average. For comparison purposes, Indiana sits only at 213th (27.3%). Thus, Minnesota will have a decided advantage on the boards.
Other Minnesota statistics of note:
- Field-goal percentage: 44.3%
- Points per game: 72.1
- Opponents points per game: 69.7
- Average progression length: 17.6 seconds
- Point distribution: 55.1% from 2s (30th), 21.6% from 3s (349th), and 23.2% from the free-throws (14th)
- Minnesota is last in the Big Ten in 3 point shooting and No. 308 nationally
Meet the Golden Gophers
- Nate Mason – 6’2” / 190 lbs / Guard – Decatur, GA.
- Reggie Lynch – 6’10” / 260 lbs / Center – Edina, MN. Dismissed from the program last season.
- Davonte Fitzgerald – 6’8” / 220 lbs / Forward – Atlanta, GA. Departed as a graduate transfer to Stephen F. Austin.
- Jamir Harris – 6’2” / 190 lbs / Guard – North Brunswick, NJ. Transferred during the Spring and landed at American University.
- Bakary Konate – 6’11” / 240 lbs / Center – Bamako, Mali.
- Gaston Diedhiou – 6’10” / 245 lbs / Forward – Dakar, Senegal.
- Jordan Murphy – 6’7” / 250 lbs / Forward / Senior – San Antonio, TX. Since 1985, no one in the Big Ten has had more rebounds than Murphy. He averages nearly 12 rebounds a game while adding 14.5 ppg.
- Amir Coffey – 6’8” / 210 lbs / Guard / Junior – Hopkins, MN. Scoring leader for the team with 15.3 ppg.
- Daniel Oturu – 6’10” / 225 lbs / Center / Freshman – Woodbury, MN. Big man for the team that adds another 7.4 rebounds/game. Top 50 recruit from 2018.
- Gabe Kalscheur – 6’4” / 200 lbs / Guard / Freshman – Edina, MN. Deep threat who is 11th in the Big Ten in 3 point attempts. Also, has a very high turnover % at 10% of plays.
- Dupree McBrayer – 6’5” / 195 lbs / Guard / Senior – Queens, NY. Multiyear starter and additional deep threat for the Golden Gophers. Only starter to not average 10 ppg, but close at 9.5.
- Isaiah Washington – 6’1” / 195 lbs / Guard / Sophomore – Harlem, NY.
- Michael Hurt – 6’7” / 220 lbs / Forward / Junior – Rochester, NY.
- Matz Stockman – 7’0” / 245 lbs / Center / RS Senior – Oslo, Norway.
- Jarvis Omersa – 6’6” / 225 lbs / Forward / Freshman – Orono, MN.
- Brock Stull – 6’4” / 210 lbs / Guard / RS Senior – Rockford, IL.
For Minnesota, Eric Curry has been battling a calf injury and is a game time decision for Minnesota’s game against Nebraska on Wednesday.
For Indiana, Juwan Morgan is playing at full capacity after his shoulder injury against Michigan State.
Race Thompson has been cleared and ready to go; however, he has yet to see court minutes since his clearing.
Zach McRoberts was held out against Iowa and Ohio State due to a stress reaction in his foot.
Jerome Hunter is red-shirting this year after going through surgery for his leg injury. He has been recovering well from surgery per Archie.
What to Watch for:
- The Case for Race. Race Thompson is one of the more peculiar stories behind the Hoosiers this season, especially during Big Ten play. Archie has consistently stated that he will play when he is healthy enough to do so. With each press conference, Archie continues to emphasize that they are trying to find a role for Race. The question that is being raised now is if it is even worth it? Should he redshirt? Should we use him now…and start to find a role for him next season? The final games will tell a lot about the direction for this and next year.
- The Frustration Continues. Indiana has been outright frustrating this half of the season. Glimpses of an elite team have surfaced at times, but with others, there have been many questions being raised about the future of the players, coach and direction of the team. The last few weeks of the season will tell more about the future of the team as aspirations of being a decent ranked NCAA Tournament team have ended and now we are focused on getting a low tier seed.
- Where art thou, Romeo? Romeo Langford has been playing well…but not as well as many have anticipated. Projected to be a lottery pick in the NBA after this season, we have started to see his stock fall. He is still projected to be a first round pick, but without the glamour of being near the top. Some have raise the question of him being around for another season, but we are unlikely to see any answers anytime soon. Many think it is ridiculous for him to stay, but not long ago, Zeller decided to stay around for another season after being projected to be in a similar draft projection.
- Can we Out-Rebound the Out-Rebounders? Minnesota has been phenomenal in controlling the boards against teams throughout the entirety of the season, but they just cannot convert these extra possessions into points. Indiana is the opposite where they struggle to maintain control, but have always been high percentage shooters. This will ultimately depend on the likes of Morgan and Smith in the paint in controlling the ball.
- ..and another slow start… Indiana needs to find a way to start quickly. It is impressive how Indiana has so many games where they trail for the (near) entirety of the game and still be competitive. Finding a way to get points early and build a lead will do a lot for the Hoosiers and their fans who probably cannot handle much more stress. Romeo and Morgan need to get hot, and get hot early to control the pace for the Hoosiers rather than pick up heat later and play catch-up.
How to Watch
|Date||Saturday, February 16th|
|Time||1:00 PM EST|