Finally. After a rash of boring non-conference games, Minnesota opens the Big Ten season on the road against Purdue. Minnesota has won its last seven games, and has scored over 80 points in each of those contests. Purdue is coming off a loss to Gardner-Webb that may have caused a nervous breakdown in the Purdue blogosphere.
Opponent: Purdue Boilermakers
Where: Mackey Arena
When: 2:15 CST
Listen: 1500 ESPN
1. Inside Scoring
Depressingly, Minnesota has not won at Purdue since 2005. During that streak, Purdue has almost always had solid rim protection. This year is no different. Purdue has size and talent inside, led by A.J. Hammons and Isaac Haas. Both players are at least 7' and are physical rim protectors. Mo Walker has proven time and again that he can manhandle weak competition. Today, the question is whether he can continue his offensive production against a tough frontline. Walker (and Eliason) cannot afford to get pushed out of the low post if they want to score. If Walker can find space to work, the Gophers' offense will be nicely balanced and a victory is probable.
2. Launch from Deep
Purdue is awful at defending against the 3. The Boilermakers are 298th in the nation in 3 point defense. Moreover, teams take one out of every three shots against Purdue from deep. This may in part be because of Purdue's toughness in the lane, but it could just as easily be because everyone is wide open. Perhaps surprising to some, Minnesota has been a decent outside shooting team. While the Gophers should avoid becoming reliant on the 3, players should take every open shot available.
Minnesota has the capacity to run some very pretty half court offense. Conversely, frequently the Gophers look like the Knicks. An easy way to avoid having to play half court offense is to get transition points. Tautologies! Minnesota leads the nation in steals and the press has looked fantastic against lesser opponents this year. An open question for the season is whether the press will make it through Big Ten season. If the Gophers can successfully turn Purdue over, the team should cruise to a win. If not (and if Purdue gets hot from outside a la Furman), this game will be much closer.
- Gophers win at Purdue for the first time since 2005: 82-74
- Andre Hollins takes at least 9 threes.
- DeAndre Mathieu finally dunks on a break away.