Minnesota takes on Michigan in Ann Arbor. The Gophers are 6-12 on the season and 0-6 in conference play. Michigan is 13-5 overall and 3-2 in conference play.
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Michigan is a deadly offensive team with a somewhat shaky defense. Granted that shaky defense beat Maryland, but Michigan will hang their hat on their offense. The Wolverines average over 1.12 points per possession and that number in conference has been without Caris LeVert. His status for Minnesota is still uncertain, though I expect he'll play if he passes all the medical tests.
Michigan is a great shooting team and currently first in the conference in effective Field Goal percentage. They are second in the conference in three point shooting percentage, and make over half of their two point shots. Because of their jump shooting identity, the Wolverines do not take a lot of free throws. See the video below for a breakdown of some of Beilein's staples. As a warning, turn the sound off if you do not want to listen to an annoying stock beat.
On defense, the Wolverines look pedestrian but that has much to do with their brutal opening stretch. Michigan currently gives up 1.1 points per possession in conference but that includes games against Iowa, Purdue, and Maryland. For a better view of their defense against a bad team, they held Penn State to .88 points per possession.
Michigan has some difficulty defending the perimeter, and are not particularly tall. Given the Gophers' shooting woes, Minnesota could have success if they get the ball into the post. Bakary Konate and Jordan Murphy will both need to perform well for a Minnesota upset.
Keys to the Game
- Defend the 3. John Beilein's offense features plenty of three point shots. Minnesota is atrocious at defending the three point shot. Unless a drastic change occurs, Michigan will shoot Minnesota out of the arena. The Gophers must rotate effectively, run three point shooters off the line, and be prepared for long rebounds.
- Avoid unforced errors. Because of the lopsided nature of the talent of this game, Minnesota can not afford to make unforced errors. Whatever chance Minnesota had to come back against Indiana evaporated after a series of turnovers at the under 8 mark. Michigan, unlike Indiana, is not turnover prone. Ceding possessions to the Wolverines is a recipe for disaster.
- Get lucky. Statistically, this is almost a lock for Michigan. In order for Minnesota to win they will have to get incredibly lucky. Maybe Michigan will go cold from the field, or a freak lightning storm will gift the Gophers the ability to shoot the ball. Perhaps they will casually meet Kevin Durant and during a ball exchange Durant will gift them his talent.
- Minnesota loses by 20. Final Score Prediction: 80-60.
- The Gophers have an effective FG% under 50%.
- Dupree McBrayer makes another three point shot.