Believe it or not, first place is on the line in the Big Ten tonight at the Breslin Center when Michigan State hosts our Golden Gophers. The game will be televised at 7:30 central time on the Big Ten Network. And this is your game thread for the game.
GN had some business to take care of this afternoon, so the official TDG preview had to be put off. But here are a four keys I see tonight for the Gophers.
1) Stay close on the boards: Unlike Illinois, Michigan State's bigs are thick. Goran Suton, Marquise Gray, Idong Ibok and Delvon Roe are all muscular interior players. Illinois had the likes of Mike Tisdale and Mike Davis--both not exactly bangers--that Ralph Sampson III and Colton Iverson were able to hang with physically. If the Gophers are hanging with MSU in the battle on the boards, the Minnesota can win. Obviously, with Raymar Morgan potentially out, the Gophers stand a better chance here. Moran had 10 rebounds in the first meeting.
2) Slow down Kalin Lucas: In Minneapolis during the the Spartans dominating win, Lucas was a little firecracker that couldn't be slowed down. He had a team-high 24 points in 36 minutes. Minnesota needs to play the type of never-say-die help defense it employed against Illinois to limit and frustrate Lucas.
3) Someone needs to get hot: Penn State's win over Michigan State was marked by a career type of game from sophomore guard Talor Battle. Northwestern's win at the Breslin Center was led by a red-hot Kevin Coble who finished with 31. The Gophers typically win with a team effort on offense, but tonight someone needs to lead the show. Frankly, in my opinion, Lawrence Westbrook needs to get hot and lead this team.
4) Scoring inside: Minnesota's offense stalls when it relies on outside shooting primarilly. Ralph Sampson III and Colton Iverson did very well to establish an inside option against Illinois. That, in turn, opened up the outside game. Scoring insider against Suton and company is more difficult, but the Gophers need to force the ball inside early and often and find some success.
That's all for now, see you in the comments section.