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Minnesota at Northwestern in Key Bubble Battle - OPEN THREAD

NCAA Tournament elimination game? Not officially but the loser has a very steep hill to climb.

Game Time: 6:00 PM

Pos Minnesota (14-5) Pnt/Gm Pnt/Gm Northwestern (12-5) Pos
PG Julian Welch 10.1 8.2 Dave Sobolewski
G Andre Hollins 5.5 5.9 Alex Marcotullio G
F Austin Hollins 8.7 17.6 Reggie Hearn F
F Rodney Williams 10.6 19.1 Drew Crawford F
C Ralph Sampson III 8.2 4.3 John Shurna F
Bench Joe Coleman 5.4 4.0 Davide Curletti Bench
Bench Chip Armelin 4.6 2.1 Nick Fruendt
Bench Eliott Eliason
2.5 6.3 JerShon Cobb

Remember Luka Mirkovic? If you thought you were frustrated with Ralph Sampson the third, take a look at Mirkovic. I don't know how many times I have heard that it is unacceptable that a 6-11 senior center can only average 8 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. I'm not the biggest fan of Ralph Sampson, but Mirkovic is proof that it could be worse. The Northwestern senior center was averaging just under 6 points and 3.8 rebounds per game. He hasn't played since their trip to Minnesota but that might be partly because he is recovering from an ankle injury.

Rodney Williams and Joe Coleman had huge games against a soft Northwestern defense last time around. The Gopher defense held the Wildcats scoreless for something like 12 minutes to start the game. I wouldn't expect that to happen but I do like our match-ups in this game.

KenPom Efficiency Stats Minnesota (44) Northwestern (55)
Record 17-9 15-10
Pnt / Poss 1.095 1.159 (10)
Def Pnt / Poss 0.951 1.018 (256)
Off eFG% 52.2%
54.3% (17)
Def eFG% 47.2% 51.2%
Off Reb % 35.2% 25.9% (323!)
Def Reb % 66.8% 65.9%
TO % 21.7% 16.1%(7)

Efficient offense, very weak defense! This team is very dependant on the three. As you may recall when they visited the Barn, the Wildcats were 8 of 26 from behind the arc. Taking and missing that many shots will usually result in a 23 point loss. The Gophers need to get out to their threes and I think we will be able to score just fine.

I am fairly confident going into this game. I just do not fear team who do not play very good defense and who do not rebound very well. We are fairly mediocre in both of those areas but good enough for me to feel good about today's game.