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Minnesota Gophers at La Salle Explorers in the NIT - OPEN THREAD

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The Gophers are set to open play in the National Invitational Tournament game. The Big Ten is undefeated in the NIT with Northwestern and Iowa winning last night, can the Gophers make it 3-0?

Game Time: 6:00 PM
TV: ESPN2

Pos Minnesota (19-14) Pnt/Gm Pnt/Gm La Salle (21-12) Pos
PG Julian Welch 10.1 13.5 Tyreek Duren G
G Andre Hollins 8.8 10.7 Sam Mills G
F Austin Hollins 7.8 14.2 Ramon Galloway F
F Rodney Williams 11.2 15.3 Earl Pettis F
C Ralph Sampson III 7.9 9.8 Jerrell Wright F
Bench Joe Coleman 5.3 5.9 Devon White Bench
Bench Chip Armelin 5.9 3.0 D.J. Peterson Bench
Bench Elliott Eliason 2.6 1.4 Steve Zack Bench

As I eluded yesterday, La Salle is a solid team on both ends of the floor and this should be a very good match-up. The Explores KenPom rank is 55, Minnesota is 56. They are top 50 nationally in offensive eFG% and defensive eFG%. They score well and at least statistically they defend well. Where the really struggle is rebounding. They rank outside of the top 250 in both offensive and defensive rebounding %.

If Minnesota wins this game I expect it will require the following keys.

Key #1 - Dominate rebounding. We need to get a few second chance baskets and we have to clean up every La Salle miss. This one is non-negotiable. If La Salle gets several second chance opportunities, they will hit some threes and get on an offensive roll.

Key #2 - Dominate the paint. We should be able to pound the ball inside to Rodney, Ralph and Elliott as there should be size mismatches all over the place. Rodney is capable of defending their smallish PF, but he should have a clear advantage on offense. If La Salle is smart they will go into a zone and make us shoot them out of it, but when they are in man I fully expect we will try to take advantage of their lack of size.

Key #3 - Close out to shooters. They have a lot of scorers and some very good shooters. But considering they are on their home floor, as considering we often give up halves of crazy good shooting, we cannot let them get on a roll from behind the arc. Even if we close out too hard and they get by us into the lane, I'd rather have that than open threes all day long.

This game will be about tempo and asserting offensive will power.