After a strong defensive performance against Iowa, the Gophers will try to carry the momentum of their first road win with them to Bloomington. Indiana is 7-5 in conference play, with wins over Ohio State and Maryland at home. They're coached by Tom Crean, who despite being a highly paid basketball coach has never found pants that fit.
Opponent: Indiana Hoosiers
Where: Assembly Hall
When: 630pm CST Sunday February 15th
1. Three Points
1. Defend the Three Pointer
Indiana is the third best offense in conference play, averaging about 1.1 points per possession. They do that by shooting three pointers at a high rate. The Hoosiers are first in the conference in 3pt percentage and second in the conference in 3PA/FGA. Expect Indiana to play up-tempo and fire at will. Indiana is not an impressive free throw shooting team because they spend most of their offense shooting threes. They are not an impressive two-point shooting team because they spend most of their offense shooting threes. They are not an impressive assisting team, which is surprising because they spend most of their offense shooting threes.
Defending the three pointer does not just mean defend the first shot against Indiana. The Hoosiers are a top offensive rebounding team, probably because long jump shots tend to lead to long rebound attempts. Minnesota will have to find their men and box out at every position.
Hot shooting teams make playing a 2-3 zone very difficult. Consistent ball movement will cause the zone to scramble, and being able to shoot from deep will force an extension of the zone that opens many soft spots throughout. Consequently, the Gophers will likely go man-to-man against Indiana for most of the game, absent foul trouble. Sunday's game will be the first real test of whether Minnesota's defensive improvement is for real. If the Gophers can run Indiana off the three-point line, they have a good chance to walk out of Bloomington with a win.
2. Feed the Post
Remember how Indiana is good at shooting threes and not good at the two-point game? That extends to the defensive side of the ball too. Indiana is last in the conference in defending two-point shots. Partially, this is a height issue. The Hoosiers only have one player taller than 6'9" and he never plays. Indiana is deliberately a small ball team and is gambling that it will be able to shoot better than its opponent.
In this kind of game, it is imperative to feed the post early and often. Mo Walker has struggled against teams with great defensive bigs, but has feasted on teams that can't match up physically. Indiana cannot match up physically against Walker. Getting him the ball in deep post position should be an efficient touch every time down the floor. In addition, Carlos Morris, DeAndre Mathieu, and Andre Hollins should all find ample driving lanes.
3. Get Indiana in Foul Trouble
Indiana plays 10 men, a consequence of their run and gun style, but they are not a deep team. By that I mean there is a distinct talent drop off from the starters to the bench. This is especially true in the post. If the Gophers can get Indiana in foul trouble, one of two outcomes will occur. Either Indiana will become even more matador like on defense, allowing the Gophers open looks, or the Hoosiers will have to change their gameplan. Both of these scenarios benefit the Gophers.
- KenPom has Indiana by 3 with a 62% probability. That number drops a bit if you look at only conference statistics, but Indiana is still favored. I think it will be very difficult for the Gophers who traditionally struggle defending the three to come away with a win. Indiana by 3.
- Andre Hollins makes at least half his three-pointers
- Charles Buggs plays meaningful minutes and throws down a massive dunk