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Previewing Gopher Basketball Hosting Western Carolina Catamounts

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Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

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Opponent: Western Carolina Catamounts
When: 6pm CST
Where: Williams Arena
Watch: ESPN3/WatchESPN
Listen: 1500 ESPN

Three Points

1. The Catamounts is a Great Nickname

I've mentioned on many occasions how I love some of the unique nicknames throughout college basketball.  The Catamounts is a good one.  What is a Catamount?  It is basically a broad categorization of mountain cats.

Webster's Dictionary defines "catamount" as "any of various wild cats such as a cougar or lynx." Cats of the catamount variety, including the bobcat, have roamed the southern Appalachian Mountains, where Western Carolina University is located, for years.

Western Carolina used to be called The Teachers as it was a teachers college and decided they needed to upgrade the nickname.  It came down to Catamounts and Mountain Boomers (which sounds cool but is really a small ground squirrel).  Just think how close we were to a matchup of maybe the only two rodent nicknames in all of college basketball.  So close.

On another "interesting" anecdote, it seems as though schools that hail from the Western parts of their state have the most unique nicknames.  Leathernecks, Hilltoppers, Catamounts are all pretty unique.  I guess the only "Western" school with a normal mascot are the Broncos of Western Michigan.

This is the kind of indepth and fascinating information you will only find here at TDG (or it is what you'll get when we play a crappy non-conference team that isn't on TV and I couldn't talk UStreet into doing the preview).

2. Backcourt Defense

OK lets get to the actual game at hand.  The Catamounts have a three-guard attack that scores a lot of points.  James Sinclair (18.9 ppg), Rhett Harrelson (17.9) and Mike Brown (12.4) combine for 67% of their total team's points and shots attempted.  Two-thirds of the Catamount possessions will see a shot taken by one of those three guys.  They also play a lot of minutes and rarely rest.  Sinclair plays 38 minutes per game, Harrelson plays 36 and Brown plays 34.

So these guys shoot a lot, they end up scoring a lot and they don't get much rest.  It should be fairly important for the Gopher backcourt to defend these guys the length of the floor and wear them out.

3. Dominate the Paint

The starting forwards for the Catamounts are both 6'7".  Off the bench they bring a freshman who is 6'9" and he plays about 12.5 minutes per game.  They also play a 6'9" sophomore who plays just under 12 minutes.  The point is that they do not have a lot of size.  One of the 6-7 starters will be tasked with guarding one of our 7-0 centers...advantage us.

I would anticipate that the Gopher offensive gameplan is an inside-out one tonight.  Pound the paint, draw fouls, score points in the lane and eventually the perimeter will open up for our backcourt.

Predictions

  • Minnesota wins 79-64.  If the Gophers are paying attention and playing like they want to win, this will not be close.