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Gophers and Spartans Kick Off the Big Ten Season - OPEN THREAD

There is no easing into the Big Ten for the Gophers as they host Michigan State on this New Year's Eve. I'll raise a glass to bringing in the new year with a 1-0 Big Ten record

Game Time: 1:00
Internet: ESPN3
Radio: AM1500 and the Gopher Radio Network

Pos #11 #9 - Minnesota Pnt/Gm Pnt/Gm #19 - Michigan State Pos
PG Andre Hollins 7.9
14.9 Keith Appling
G Joe Coleman 13.8 12.4 Gary Harris
F Austin Hollins 6.3
6.1 Denzel Valentine F
F Rodney Williams 13.1
9.8 Branden Dawson
C Trevor Mbakwe 11.7 8.8 Derrick Nix
Bench Maverick Ahanmisi 12.1 5.5 Travis Trice
Bench Julian Welch
3.9 8.7 Adreian Payne
Bench Eliott Eliason 6.6
2.3 Brandan Kearney

I love this match-up, not because it is ripe with Gopher advantages but because there are just so many intriguing ones all over the floor.

KenPom Efficiency Stats Minnesota (10) Michigan State (17)
Record 12-1 11-2
Points / Poss 1.135 (13) 1.082 (41)
Def Points / Poss 0.878 (17)
0.865 (12)
Off eFG% 50.6% 52.5% (45)
Def eFG% 42.4% (24)
40.9% (9)
Off Reb % 48.9% (1) 37.4% (43)
Def Reb % 64.5% (272)
72.2% (42)
TO % 21.4% 23.0 (275)

Looking at the numbers two things are clear to me. The first is that Michigan State is really good in all key areas of the game, with the annual exception being turnovers. The second is this game will come down to who gives themselves the most possessions either by offensive rebounding or by forcing turnovers. Both teams on paper shoot well and defend well. But the Gophers make a living on offensive rebounding while the Spartans are a top 10 defensive rebounding team. Both teams also have an issue turning the ball over. The team that can limit turnovers and gain extra possessions through rebounding should be in great position to win.

On paper it looks like a battle for the most possessions. Of course if you don't do anything with those possessions then it won't really matter.

Similar teams who focus on rebounding, defense and need execution on offense. Both are well coached, both play with toughness and both teams need a big win to start the Big Ten season. Should be a great game.