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Minnesota v. UMBC Preview

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Now that the football team has the broken chair, it's time for the basketball team to take care of business.

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Man that was a fun win against Nebraska. Let's keep that party going with the basketball team. Minnesota returns to playing Division I competition tonight against the University of Maryland-Baltimore County. This would be a very tough match-up if we were talking about chess, but should not be a difficult one on the basketball court.

Opponent: UMBC Retrievers

Game Time: 7:30 CST

Watch: BTN Plus

Listen: 1500 ESPN Twin-Cities

Three Points


1. Avoid the Letdown

I'll just start by noting that UMBC is not a good basketball team. KenPom currently ranks them as the 330th best basketball team in America. In their last game against Loyola, the Retrievers scored 38 points and had 28.3% eFG. UMBC had an offensive rating of 52.8. That's almost as bad as Franklin Pierce's fight song.

Minnesota should run away with this game early, but in order for that to happen the team must play with aggression and fire from the opening tip. I don't expect the Gophers to run anything other than base sets, and this game will be another opportunity to practice in a live setting.

2. Have Kendal Shell Score in Double Digits

Assuming that the Gophers play well, there's no reason that they can't top 100 points in back-to-back games. The starters will hopefully have another opportunity to practice their towel waving game. To get to that point, Minnesota needs to force turnovers and score easy transition baskets early and often.

3. Squirrel Makes Most of His Shots in the Paint

Carlos Morris's chucker game is very strong, but he's much too athletic to pull up for inefficient twos. In a perfect universe, he would have 20 points on 6 layups and 8 free throws tonight. Regardless of his point total, I'd like to see the majority of his shots within 8 feet of the basket.

Predictions

  • Gophers win 100-55
  • DeAndre Mathieu dunks on a fast break.
  • The football team gets back in time for Half-time and parades around the Bits of Broken Chair
  • I curse BTN for not showing the game on an easily available alternate channel.