The Gophers get to finish out the season with five home games in the final seven. Tonight is game one of this stretch and it is the first of the season against Wisconsin. The rivalry game is always a big one and it is one that would be a very nice resume boost for the Gophers who are clearly on the NCAA bubble and would like to stay there.
Game Time: 6:00
Believe it or not the Badgers have more kids from Minnesota than they do who played their high school ball in Wisconsin. Five of the 10 starters tonight will be local kids so the familiarity on the court should be significant. But this little nugget is really more interesting to fans than it is relevant to the outcome of the game. Is Jordan Taylor going to be "extra motivated" to beat his hometown Gophers tonight? Maybe, but it isn't like his lights us up every time he faces the Gophers. Overall he is 1-3 vs. Minnesota and has scored over 5 points only once in those four games. Bruesewitz and Berggren are both 1-1 against the Gophers being fortunate to miss the two losses in the 2008-09 season.
I don't know that dominating the Gophers is really what is going to motivate those guys. Getting a Big Ten road victory to keep their hopes of a Big Ten title alive should probably be more of a motivator.
The Gopher roster is frustratingly inconsistent. It was the starters who carried the team to a win at Indiana and it was the bench who sparked the win over Illinois. And both groups stunk at Iowa. It is hard to know what you are going to get out of this roster when each night it is someone new who may (or may not) step up.
|KenPom Efficiency Stats
|Pnt / Poss
|Def Pnt / Poss
|Off Reb %
|Def Reb %
Wisconsin's numbers defensively are really (REALLY) impressive. #2 in the country in points allowed per possession and #1 in defensive eFG%. It might be awfully hard for the Gopher offense to score tonight and it might be an ugly game where the bulk of our points come from the free throw line.
Defensively the Gopher's #1 priority is going to be getting out to the three-point line. Wisconsin gets 35% of their points from behind the arc which is 32nd in the country. As a point of reference the Gophers score only 22.4% of our points from three, ranking near the bottom of D1 basketball. But if we can get out and guard the three that might take the Badgers out of their offensive rhythm, allowing us to stay in the game.
The other key to the game, I think, will be rebounding. Wisconsin hasn't been hitting the offensive glass at a super high rate this year. Ralph and Rodney and the guards need to make sure that trend continues by ending possessions with a rebound. Keep offensive rebounds down, we will lose if we give them a number of second chances.
Scoring will be low and points will be hard to come by. Over the last few years this has been a good match-up for the Gophers and let's hope the trend continues at The Barn tonight.