Minnesota looks for its road win of the conference season against Iowa on Thursday. The Gophers are coming off a close win against Purdue and are 4-7 in Big Ten play. Iowa is 6-4 in conference play and most recently dismantled Maryland. There are many questions surrounding this game. Can the Gophers get their first road win of the year? Can Andre Hollins have another big game? Will Adam Woodbury poke anyone in the eye?
Here's your preview.
Opponent: Iowa Hawkeyes
When: 6pm CST Thursday
Where: Carver Hawkeye Arena
1. Keep Iowa off the Glass
Easy to say; hard to do. Iowa is the leading offensive rebounding team in the Big Ten. They are tall at every position and crash the boards well. Adam Woodbury and Gabriel Olaseni lead the Hawkeyes with 17 putbacks a piece, but that only takes into account shots taken within 4 seconds of an offensive rebound. The real advantage of offensive rebounds is that the possession continues, and frequently a offensive rebound leads to a defensive scramble which opens up a shooter.
Minnesota is not an impressive defensive rebounding team. Some of this is a size issue as two players regularly play out of position (King and Buggs), but most of it is an effort issue. The Gophers when rebounding well find their man and seal him out of position. In order to get a road win, it is critical that Minnesota is strong on the defensive glass.
2. Prevent Iowa from making Threes
Iowa is not a great shooting ball club. The team averages under 33% from behind the arc, however, they have multiple volume three point shooters. Peter Jok, Josh Ogelsby, and Jarrod Uthoff all average more than five three point attempts per 40 minutes. None of these players are particularly good from deep, but if Minnesota fails to prevent offensive rebounds, expect them to be be shooting open threes. Iowa is 7th in the Big Ten in turnovers, so Minnesota will have to spend ample time in the half court.
My assumption is that Pitino will start in the 2-3 zone. If that is the case, then the defensive matchup to watch is whether Iowa's height can let them pass over the zone. If and when that happens, it will be imperative for Minnesota to execute their rotations effectively to keep Iowa out of the soft spots around the nail and short corner.
3. Shoot well
Fortunately, Minnesota gets to play offense in this game, and Iowa's defense is porous. They are the worst defensive team in the conference, giving up 1.13 points per possession. For a team that is great on the offensive boards, the Hawkeyes are equally bad on the defensive boards, worst in the conference. In addition, partly because of their size, teams take the second most 3PA per FGA in the conference. Those teams have not been particularly successful at making those threes, which is a testament to shooting over the Hawkeyes, but the recipe for a big offensive game exists.
Andre Hollins will have to continue his hot streak on offense, but he will need help. I wrote earlier this week that the Gophers need a second scorer on offense. Whether it is someone expected like Mo Walker or Carlos Morris, or if it is someone who isn't...
- KenPom views this as a confident Iowa win by 5. If you feel like betting on the game, that's what you should do. I cannot in good conscious pick an Iowa win, so Minnesota by 1 on a last second buzzer beater.
- Charles Buggs strikes fear into the hearts of Hawkeyes everywhere and makes at least 2 threes.
- Adam Woodbury avoids poking anyone in the eye because he's totally over that and it wasn't a thing anyway. Yeesh, ask an intelligent question.