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Minnesota Basketball: Previewing Michigan

Minnesota tries to pick up its first conference win on the road.

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Game Details

Opponent: Michigan Wolverines

Where: Crisler Center

When: Noon

Watch: ESPNU

Listen: 1500ESPN

Three Points

1. Good Shots

At this point, these points are becoming a broken record. Minnesota will not win games if players pull up from 19 feet with 28 seconds on the shot clock and take an off-balance jump shot. Steph Curry is not walking through the door. For the Gophers to win, the team needs to play inside out. That means trying to get Mo Walker or Elliott Eliason a touch on the low block on almost every possession. The two bigs will have to play well, but the Gophers become much more fluid when defenses have to collapse on the post. Carlos Morris, Nate Mason, and DeAndre Mathieu need space to drive to the basket, which is unlikely to exist if Michigan is able to extend its defense out.

2. Will the Real Back Court Please Step Up?

Minnesota is a different basketball team when Andre Hollins is scoring points. The Gophers need their senior to step up again on offense. Even with injuries, Hollins has shown that he can put the ball in the basket. If he has another game with less than double digit points, the Gophers are unlikely to leave Crisler happy. Of course, it's not just Hollins. DeAndre Mathieu also needs to get going. It's not just scoring, though Mathieu should get his, this also means creating for others. Minnesota needs to move the ball, and that cannot happen when its back court is not engaged and playing well. Spot up shooters like Charles Buggs and Joey King rely on the back court to get them the ball in a position to score. Passes that are off, lack of communication with teammates, and forced isolations are all offshoots of possessions that got away from the back court.

3. Defend the 3

Michigan is not a good three-point shooting team, but they like to bomb from deep. This is a John Beilein team after all. Caris Levert, Zak Irvin, and and Derrick Walton combine for 15 3PA per game, of which they make a little over 5 on average. Nonetheless, Michigan has the capacity to shoot its way to a win, and the Gophers have had a tendency to make bad three-point shooting teams look like world beaters (Hello Furman). Defend the three, and Michigan has very little by way of an inside game. Outside of Levert, Irvin, and Walton, Michigan has no other scorers.

Predictions

  • Gophers win their first game on the road 65-62.
  • Minnesota holds Michigan to less than 40% from deep
  • Richard Pitino hurls his jacket into the crowd in the first five minutes of the second half