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Minnesota Golden Gophers travel to Michigan Wolverines looking for their first road win of the Big Ten Season - OPEN THREAD

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The bad news is that we've lost four straight games to the Wolverines. The good news is they don't have Manny Harris and DeSean Simms anymore. This game is an interesting one and a game that the Gophers need to win if they want to get back into the race for a top 4 seed in the Big Ten Tournament.

Game Time: 6:00
TV: Big Ten Network

Pos #20 - Minnesota Pnt/Gm Pnt/Gm Michigan Pos
PG Al Nolen 9.1
15.7 Darius Morris
G
G Blake Hoffarber 13.8 11.1 Tim Hardaway Jr.
G
F Rodney Williams 6.7
9.2 Zach Novak
F
F Trevor Mbakwe 13.2
8.3 Jordan Morgan
F
C Ralph Sampson III 10.4 6.5 Evan Smotrycz
F
Bench Colton Iverson 6.7 7.7 Stu Douglas
Bench
Bench Austin Hollins
3.6 3.6 Matt Vogrich
Bench
Bench Chip Armelin
3.6
2.9 Jon Horford
Bench

The Michigan roster is one that will shoot a lot of threes. Because they don't get to the paint as much they really don't get to the free throw line very often either. In fact we lead the Big Ten in free throw attempts shooting about 26 per game while Michigan is last in the Big Ten getting to the line just under 15 times per game. That 11 free throw difference could be a real factor tonight. The one guy who gets to the line is Morris who gets to the line nearly twice as often as the next guy on the Michigan roster.

But the other thing that could really be a factor is their three-point attempts. Michigan leads the Big Ten taking nearly 24 three-point attempts per game and the Gopher's problem all season has been defending the three. We currently rank 10th allowing teams to make 36.1% of their threes.

This is going to be the difference in the game. If the Gophers can keep Michigan from lighting it up from behind the arc, I am very comfortable that we'll win this game. The key matchups might be our bigs guarding their bigs who are all inclined to shoot the three. This is typically not a good matchup for us. Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford are the only two guys who won't throw it up from deep (they've combined for 7 attempts all year). But Novak, Douglas and Smotrycz are second, third and fourth respectively on the team in attempts behind Hardaway. Williams, Mbakwe and Sampson better be ready to defend all the way out to the line tonight.

KenPom Efficiency Stats Minnesota (46) Michigan (67)
Record 14-4 11-8
Pnt / Poss 1.130 (35) 1.090
Def Pnt / Poss 0.947 0.949
Off eFG% 51.0% 50.2%
Def eFG% 46.2% 48.1%
Off Reb % 39.1% (13) 28.7% (287)
Def Reb % 67.9% 71.7%
TO % 20.2% 17.3%

We are similar are better than the Wolverines in every category shown above, with the exception of turnover % where they turn the ball over on fewer possessions than we do. But where the biggest difference lies is in rebounding. Based on the numbers we really should dominate the glass giving us more opportunities to score.

This game will be won or lost with our frontcourt. Keys to winning are defending the three, rebounding and scoring in the paint. All of those fall heavily on the shoulders of Williams, Mbakwe, Iverson and Sampson.