Gophers Face Northwestern in the Big Ten Tournament - OPEN THREAD

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Game Time: 1:30
TV: ESPN2 (ESPN3 on the interwebz)

Pos Minnesota Pnt/Gm Pnt/Gm Northwestern
PG Maverick Ahanmisi 2.1
15.3 Michael Thompson
G Blake Hoffarber 13.7 1.8 Mike Capocci G
F Rodney Williams 6.9
12.1 Drew Crawford
F Trevor Mbakwe 13.7
16.8 John Shurna
C Ralph Sampson III 10.2 7.8
Luka Mircovic
Bench Colton Iverson 5.6
5.2 Alex Marcotullio
Austin Hollins 4.3 4.4 Davide Curletti
Chip Armelin 4.3
8.0 Jershonn Cobb

For the record we did already beat Northwestern without the services of Al Nolen. Unfortunately we have been 1-9 since then. Northwestern has some very good basketball players on their roster. John Shurna and Michael Thompson were both 3rd team All-Big Ten and Drew Crawford is no slouch offensively either. Thompson basically took over in the second half of the game at Northwestern and carried NU to the win. Those guys are very good shooters and scorers, stopping them will not be easy.

But they are not great defensively as a team and we absolutely have to score on them. We have to hit open shots and we have to get back to our strength which is pound the ball inside. If they pack the paint with an extra guy keep pounding the paint. If they bring a third guy? Keep pounding the paint. When the put four guys in the paint to stop Mbakwe then kick it out for anybody (except Armelin) to shoot.

KenPom Efficiency Stats Minnesota (57)
Northwestern (66)
Record 17-13 17-12
Pnt / Poss 1.094 1.141 (21)
Def Pnt / Poss 0.952 1.009
Off eFG% 50.2% 53.9% (20)
Def eFG% 47.2% 53.7% (332)
Off Reb % 37.7% (17)
27.0% (311)
Def Reb % 68.6% 69.3%
TO % 20.6% 16.2% (8)

It is pretty simple, Northwestern shoots a high percentage, scores efficiently and doesn't turn the ball over. Everything else, they aren't very good at. By the efficiency numbers they are the worst defensive team in the Big Ten and 10th by all rebounding criteria. Against this defense our 17.6% three-point shooting in the last NU game is unacceptable. On their home court the Wildcats made seven more threes than we did, those 21 points are hard to overcome on the road. Even at The Barn the Gophers only made two threes compared to NU's 12 but they also hacked us and our 31 points from the free throw line was too much for the Wildcats.

I really should give the Wildcats more respect but teams that can't defend and don't rebound well, I tend to not hold in very high esteem. I expect those three point numbers to be much closer in today's Gopher win. I also expect that we will dominate the glass in today's Gopher win.

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