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Minnesota Basketball-Previewing South Dakota State

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Minnesota tries to win the battle for South Dakota.

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota's streak of 47 non-conference victories ended against South Dakota. The loss was probably Minnesota's worst loss in a decade. Tonight, the Gophers square off against South Dakota State with a chance to earn a season split against the state of South Dakota. I'm not crying. You're crying.

Provide Me the Essentials to View this Game

Who are the Gophers Playing

South Dakota State Jackrabbits

What time are they playing

7pm CST

Where are they playing

Williams Arena

Can I watch the game on TV

Unclear why you would, but in any event you can't. The game is on ESPN3.

Can I listen to the game on the radio

Yes. 1500ESPN.

Tell me more about the Opponent

South Dakota State is a decent basketball team. They are 7-1 on the season with their only loss against UMKC. You may recall that the Gophers walloped UMKC, but the Gophers just lost to South Dakota so anything is possible. SDSU boasts a decent offense that averages 1.07 points per possession, and a top 100 defense efficiency rating. The Jackrabbits are an excellent shooting team so far and are ranked 52nd in the country in effective Field Goal %.

Deondre Parks and Jack Bittle lead SDSU's attack. Parks averages a little over 16 points per game, but more importantly he and others can sling it from deep. Minnesota has been--to be charitable--ineffective at defending the 3 point line all season. There is a legitimate worry that SDSU will be able to find open 3s all game.

Keys to the Game

  1. Just Win Baby. This isn't so much a key as a necessity for the rest of the season. For Minnesota's own confidence and the mathematics of any postseason tournament selection, the Gophers have to win tonight.
  2. Defend the three point line. Defense more so than offense is about effort. The Gophers have to get out and contest shots every single possession. Minnesota will need to stick to SDSU's shooters, and deny easy looks for the entire shot clock.
  3. Take Good shots. Want an easy way to see that the offense is out of whack? When your point guard has more missed shots than assists in a home game with liberal scorekeepers. South Dakota has a good defense that will look like world beaters if the Gophers continue to take forced looks or difficult shots instead of working within the offense to find a good one.

Predictions

  • Minnesota wins 74-72, but this is depressingly a pick 'em.
  • Nate Mason has an excellent performance on both sides of the ball.
  • Jordan Murphy records another double digit rebounding performance.