Gophers vs. Northwestern OPEN THREAD

Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY Sports
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Pos. Minnesota Golden Gophers Pnt/Gm Pnt/Gm Northwestern Wildcats Pos.
PG Deandre Mathieu 11.2 11.2 Jershon Cobb PG
G Malik Smith 10.8 16.2 Drew Crawford G
G Austin Hollins 11.7 4.0 Sanjay Lumpkin F
F Oto Osenieks 7.0 3.8 Kale Abrahamson F
F Elliott Eliason 6.4 8.5 Alex Olah F
Bench Daquein McNeil
1.7 10.7 Tre Demps Bench
Bench Joey King 6.4 1.2 Nikola Cerina Bench
Bench Maurice Walker 6.0 2.8 Nathan Taphorn Bench

Injury Notes Andre Hollins is still out.

Efficiency Stats (national rank in parenthesis if significant)

Minnesota Northwestern
Off PPP 1.094 (40) 0.923 (324)
Def PPP 0.997 0.954 (56)
Off TO% 17.7% 17.4%
Def TO% 18.5% 16.2% (301)
Off Reb % 35.1% 23.3% (341)
Def Reb % 71.2% 72.4%

When you look at these numbers you see that this is a really bad offensive team. They don't score very efficiently, 323 NCAA D1 teams are more efficient at scoring per possession. They don't create any turnovers, 300 teams in D1 create more. They don't give themselves extra offensive possessions via offensive rebounding, 340 D1 teams do it better. And I don't list eFG% but they rank 306th in offensive eFG%. So they don't score very well when they do have a possession and they do nothing to generate more possessions than their opponent. That is a really bad formula for winning.

What they do well is defend. Believe it or not, they have two Big Ten wins already and this was done with defense. Sure, their eFG% at Indiana was only 42.2%; but they held Indiana to 28.3% while also limiting offensive rebounds. There is more than one way to snag Big Ten wins, but this offense is really bad and it makes winning VERY difficult. This is why you see many Northwestern games in the 40s and 50s; also why you see them with a 11-11 record.

Keys to a Gopher Win

The Front Court -
The Gophers are the more talented team, especially in the front court. Both Eliason and Walker need to be high usage players. If the Gophers can get the ball into the post, the front court should have easy looks.

Maroon_key_mediumEffective Pressing -Northwestern has been horrid against the press this year. The Gophers should press every single possession. Just as importantly, the Gophers will have to improve their transition defense to avoid cheap baskets.

Maroon_key_mediumDon't Foul-The Gophers have been in foul trouble multiple times this season. With Dre Hollins missing another game, the Gophers cannot afford to have starters in foul trouble. Northwestern is unlikely to get to the line very much, so avoiding cheap fouls also prevents free points.

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