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NIT Championship Gophers vs. SMU OPEN THREAD

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USA TODAY Sports

Where

Madison Square Garden

When

6:00 PM

How

ESPN

Pos. Minnesota Golden Gophers Pnt/Gm Pnt/Gm SMU Pos.
PG Deandre Mathieu 12.0 9.8 Nick Russell PG
G Andre Hollins 13.6 13.5 Nic Moore G
G Austin Hollins 12.2 12.4 Markus Kennedy F
F Joey King 7.1 4.5 Sterling Brown F
F Maurice Walker 8.0 4.9 Shawn Williams F
Bench Elliott Eliason 5.1 4.6 Ryan Manuel Bench
Bench Daquein McNeil 1.7 6.2 Ben Moore Bench
Bench Maverick Ahanmisi 3.0 5.5 Keith Frazier

Bench

First off #RIP5DH

Second, SMU is a good basketball team. They are coached by Larry Brown who is a lot older than Richard Pitino. Storyline! Seriously, SMU definitely had the best case of the teams that missed the NCAA tournament. The Mustangs are led by the inside/outside attack of Markus Kennedy and Nic Moore. The Mustangs are not a particularly up tempo team, but they can create lots of transition opportunities. When they do, look for Nick Russell, who gets almost 50% of his shot attempts in the first 10 seconds of the shot clock.

KenPom predicts SMU wins this game 63% of the time and expects a 69-65 game. I disagree with this prediction because I'm a homer.

Efficiency Statistics

Minnesota SMU
Off PPP 1.121 1.103
Def PPP 1.007 0.947
Off TO% 18.0% 20.1%
Def TO% 18.6% 21.2%
Off Reb % 31.6% 35.1%
Def Reb % 68.2% 69.3%

The main number that should jump out is SMU's defensive points per possession. The Mustangs are a top 20 defensive team nationally this year. They're not massive like Florida State, but the Mustangs are quick and aggressive. They are top 20 nationally in steals and blocks and top 30 in turnover percentage. Teams that get lots of blocks can do so through talent (think Anthony Davis) or opportunities-positive and negative.

Keys to a Gopher Win

Maroon_key_medium
Limited Turnovers for Mathieu -
I'm going to quote Gopher Nation from last game's preview. "Deandre needs to play fast but play under control...So often our turnover issues start with Mathieu, if he can play well without turning it over then I like our chances." SMU is going to try and create turnovers. If Mathieu can play under control, he should find ways to make SMU pay for its aggressiveness.

Maroon_key_medium Secondary Scoring- I'd prefer for development reasons for this to be someone coming back next year, but whoever it is needs to have a solid game. Minnesota has been carried through the tournament from secondary scoring from unexpected players (Ahanmisi, King). SMU is too good of a defensive team to rely on one player. Note this is not valid if Andre Hollins decides to go off for 41 points.

Maroon_key_medium Don't be the Knicks- Since Minnesota is playing at the "Greatest Arena in the World" it behooves them to avoid copying habits from the pro team. Extended isolation sets are bad. Over dribbling is bad. Anything that looks like something J.R. Smith would do, don't do that.