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Golden Gophers host Northwestern Wildcats - OPEN THREAD

And let the post Al Nolen era begin and it starts against a team with a scoring point guard.

Game Time: 7:30
TV: Big Ten Network

Pos #18 - Minnesota Pnt/Gm Pnt/Gm Northwestern Pos
PG Blake Hoffarber 13.7
13.9 Michael Thompson7
G Chip Armelin 3.7 7.9 Jershonn Cobb
F Rodney Williams 6.8
12.8 Drew Crawford 11
F Trevor Mbakwe 13.2
19.2 John Shurna 12
C Ralph Sampson III 10.6 9.2 Luka Mircovic
Bench Colton Iverson 6.3 4.9 Alex Marcotullio
Bench Austin Hollins
3.4 4.2 Davide Curletti
Bench Maverick Ahanmisi
2.1 Mike Capocci

Shurna is the man to stop here. 10 games of 20 points or more, do we have 10 20-point games with our entire roster? First of all the kid needs a hair cut, I don't mind long hair but that is an ugly mop. Secondly Trevor Mbakwe needs to slow him down. 10 games of 20 or more is impressive and he is currently 4th in the Big Ten in scoring.

Unfortunately he isn't the only one we need to stop. Drew Crawford and Michael Thompson are both averaging more than a dozen points per game. Crawford has scored 16+ in 11 different games, Thompson has done that seven times. This is a strong three-man scoring monster. Wouldn't you feel much better with Nolen defending Thompson?

What may play out in our favor is Shurna guarding Mbakwe. Trevor will score his and this looks to me like a match-up that might result in Shurna getting into foul trouble. He hasn't been nailed for more than 3 fouls in a game yet this year so maybe this is more wishful thinking than anything else but Mbakwe does seem to get to the line often.

I'm totally guessing on the starting lineup but it looks as good as anything else, I think Armelin gives Tubby the best defensive presence to start the game.

KenPom Efficiency Stats Minnesota (42) Northwestern (50)
Record 15-4 13-6
Pnt / Poss 1.133 1.168 (14)
Def Pnt / Poss 0.953 1.000
Off eFG% 51.7% 55.6% (11)
Def eFG% 46.6% 52.2% (295)
Off Reb % 39.7% 27.8% (308)
Def Reb % 68.7% 69.1%
TO % 20.6 16.4% (9)

So by the numbers, Northwestern is very efficient on offense but not very good on defense. They don't turn the ball over, they score with great efficiency and they shoot the ball very well. But they also allow teams to shoot a high eFG% and they do not rebound well at all. We are very good at rebounding and hopefully we'll be able to score plenty of points tonight without Al.

This is a home game and this is a win we need to stay on track for an NCAA Tournament bid. The uniqueness of their 1-3-1 zone defense and their Princeton Offense usually throw teams for a loop. Fortunately we just got a taste of Michigan's 1-3-1 and I feel pretty good about defending their offense with our bigs not allowing easy baskets inside. We may get beat on a backdoor but we have a wave of big men who are often there to keep the ball from the rim.

Big game tonight in the post Nolen era.