Gophers Look to Go Danding Need Win Over Nittany Lions in Big Ten Tourney - OPEN THREAD

Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY Sports
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Where

banker's life fieldhouse

When

5:30 PM

How

ESPN2

So we all know that the Gophers just took care of Penn State last week to finish off the regular season. The game was really never in doubt and the Gophers cruised to an 18-point win. But do not let that game lull you into thinking the results tonight will be the same.

Pos. Minnesota Golden Gophers Pnt/Gm Pnt/Gm Penn State Nittany Lions Pos.
PG Deandre Mathieu 11.9 15.5 Tim Frazier PG
G Andre Hollins 14.6 17.8 D.J. Newbill G
G Austin Hollins 11.6 9.2 Brandon Taylor F
F Joey King 6.3 8.8 Ross Travis F
F Maurice Walker 7.8 1.3 Jordan Dickerson C
Bench Malik Smith 8.4 7.1 Jack Johnson
Bench
Bench Elliott Eliason 5.5 10.5 Geno Thorpe
Bench
Bench Daquein McNeil 1.6 6.6 Donovan Jack Bench

Tonight's game is going to be completely different from last Sunday's and the match-up I am most interested in is how the Nittany Lions defend Deandre Mathieu. It has been well documented that the Gopher offense tends to go as far as lil'Dre will take them. On Sunday he was able to score 16 points and dish out 6 assists. As we have seen in other game (@Wisconsin, Illinois, etc) when teams are able to keep Mathieu out of the paint, the Gopher offense struggles. I fully expect Penn State to come into tonight's game with a plan to do just that. The Gophers better have a plan or a couple other guys are going to have step up.

For Penn State I really only worry about Newbill and Frazier. Those upper-classmen are both capable of having a tremendous offensive game that carries Penn State to a win.

Efficiency Stats (national rank in parenthesis if significant)

Minnesota Penn State
Off PPP 1.129 1.102
Def PPP 1.007 1.013
Off TO% 18.5% 15.7% (30)
Def TO% 18.5% 16.3% (299)
Off Reb % 33.0% 29.5%
Def Reb % 69.4% 69.8%

Fortunately the Nittany Lions don't force very many turnovers, cause that often kills us. Neither team is very good defensively so the better shooting team should be in pretty good shape.

Keys to a Gopher Win

Maroon_key_medium
Contain PSU backcourt -
UStreet had this as a key for last week's game and it is still very appropriate. Tim Frazier and D.J. Newbill both are very talented offensively and can spark Penn State. They combine for over 46% of Penn State's points and as UStreet pointed out they have an incredibly high usage rate. The ball is often in their hands, the shots often come from their finger-tips and if we can keep them in check I find it hard to see a scenario where the Gophers lose this game. In Minnesota's early season win at Penn State they held Newbill to zero points.

Maroon_key_mediumDeandre Mathieu-As I mentioned above, I'll be shocked if Penn State doesn't have a new plan of attack on how they plan to slow down our tiny point guard. Illinois used athletic forwards to jump him on ball screen and push him further away from the basket. Wisconsin, after getting torched by Mathieu in The Barn, packed the paint and kept him at least 16 feet away at all times. Penn State will try something different and the Gophers need to have an answer.

Maroon_key_mediumNo Lengthy Stretches of Not Scoring-There was a brief moment when Penn State cut what was a 25-point Gopher lead down to 9 with a 17-1 run that stretched over about 5 1/2 minutes. This is a very common theme in Gopher games, lengthy stretches without points. I'd really like to see some balanced scoring, Andre Hollins lighting up the scoreboard, Walker dominating the paint, Austin Hollins being crafty and Mathieu getting to the paint and breaking down the D. Is that too much to ask?

A win is imperative here. I hate calling games must-wins and most regular season games are not; but today is. Lose and we get another home game. Win and we only help ourselves.

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