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The Gophers Return Home to Hose the Purdue Boilermakers - OPEN THREAD

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Well at least the road brutality has ended but things don't really get any easier at home as we are set to face the best defensive team in the Big Ten and they have a few strong offensive weapons as well. We all know that this team lost a potential All-American in Robbie Hummell but they have a couple first team All-Big Ten caliber players in Moore and Johnson so this team is not without talent.

Game Time: 6:00 CST
TV: ESPN

Pos #25 - Minnesota Pnt/Gm Pnt/Gm #8 - Purdue Pos
PG Al Nolen 8.4
5.6 Lewis Jackson
G
G Blake Hoffarber 13.4 18.8 E`Twaun Moore G
F Rodney Williams 6.7
7.4 Ryne Smith
F
F Colton Iverson 6.3
5.2 D.J. Byrd
F
C Ralph Sampson III 10.7 19.4 JaJuan Johnson
C
Bench Trevor Mbakwe 13.5 5.9 Kelsey Barlow
Bench
Bench Austin Hollins
3.4 5.8 Terone Johnson
Bench
Bench Maverick Ahanmisi
2.1
1.5 Travis Carroll
Bench

To be honest, I like a few of the match-ups above.

Nolen vs. Jackson - good match-up of defensive minded point guards. Both are playing well as of late but I don't look at this match-up and automatically put it in Purdue's favor.

Hoffarber vs. Moore - OK, this one I'll give to Purdue, Moore is very good. In the three games last year Hoffarber scored 11 points...total...in three games.

Williams vs. Smith - not a slam dunk but the way Williams is playing lately I might even give the nod to Rodney.

Iverson/Mbakwe vs. Byrd - This is where the Gophers can make up some ground. In the three games last year whoever was playing PF minutes really fared well against the Boilermakers. Paul Carter had 15 off the bench in game 1, Damian Johnson scored a dozen in game 2 and game 3 doesn't really count cause the 27 point win was weird. But Mbakwe could have a monster night tonight.

Sampson vs. Johnson - should be a lock for Purdue right? Except for that Ralph seems to show some fire and spark when facing Johnson. RSIII didn't play in game 1 last year but game 2 was probably his most impressive in a Gopher uniform and game 3 was a 13 point performance. Yes, Johnson is a potential All-American but look for Ralph to play some inspired ball tonight (PLEASE?).

Purdue is the more talented team but so many times it is all about match-ups and compared to the other top teams in the Big Ten we match-up best with Purdue (Ohio State might be our worst).

KenPom Efficiency Stats Minnesota (57) Purdue (4)
Record 12-4
15-1
Pnt / Poss 1.103 1.143 (23)
Def Pnt / Poss 0.938 0.819 (2)
Off eFG% 50.8% 52.1%
Def eFG% 46.5% 42.8% (13)
Off Reb % 39.6% (12) 35.4%
Def Reb % 68.5% 71.6% (35)
TO % 20.6% (159) 17.0 (18)

Much like the OSU numbers, these numbers are equally as ugly, KenPom gives us a 21% chance of winning. For us to win I think it comes down to 2 things.

1 - Do NOT turn the ball over - The Boilermaker half-court pressure defense is the best in the Big Ten and we have not been very good at being strong with the ball. This will be no easy task, especially when Tubby subs in his line change. Many of our turnovers are really just carelessness. Mbakwe must have at least 3 per game on passes that he bobbles out of bounds. And then the freshmen perimeter players need to be strong and confident with the ball.

2 - Mbakwe has to have a big night. I'm sure Matt Painter is telling his defense that they must really make Mbakwe uncomfortable every time he has the ball. I'm certain that Johnson or someone from the perimeter will be coming with added pressure all night. He can take the physical nature of being doubled but can he hang on to the ball and make his free throws? He needs to be productive and hopefully that will free up Sampson a little bit. And hopefully that will then free up Hoffarber a little bit. But Mbakwe is the one who can really put the Gophers on his back and carry them.

Can we win it? Yes we can. Should be fun to watch both teams try and control this game. I'd love to see