Minnesota lost to Michigan 82-74 at Williams Arena. With the loss, Minnesota is now 6-18 on the season, 0-12 in conference play, and have lost 13 straight. Michigan is now 18-7 on the season and their NCAA tournament dream remains alive, albeit barely. Derrick Walton Jr. led all scorers with 26 points. The Four Factors are below.
Michigan only beat Minnesota in one factor, however, it is by far the most important one. 67.3% is a ludicrous effective field goal percentage. The Wolverines made almost as many three pointers as the Gophers attempted. Minnesota finally managed an effective field goal percentage of 50%, but were miserable from distance yet again. Granted, the Gophers had a lot of success going inside against a porous Wolverine interior defense. Unfortunately, that is likely an aberration relative to trend. A better team defense and this game is another Northwestern.
I suppose we should give credit to the Gophers for fighting back in the second half. The young players showed a lot of toughness and hustle to bring the lead from 19 points to 2. Still, a loss is a loss. Frankly, I'm tired of rhetorical moral victories. Moral victories, whatever their worth, should not come into play when a team allows its opponent to get out to a 19 point lead. They should not apply when a team fails to read the scouting report and gives up open three point look after open three point look. Moral victories should not be in play when a team cannot make wide open shots.
Certainly the Gophers are getting better, and if they played a full game like they played the last thirteen minutes of yesterday's they will get a win, potentially several.Whether that will happen is an open question. I worry that the only time that is possible on the schedule is against Rutgers, and honestly I'm somewhat skeptical the Gophers will win either of those games.
Watching yesterday, it seems clear that the Gophers have two sets with which they feel any confidence. Any isolation on the block for Jordan Murphy, and the "Nate Mason go do something" play. The latter is preferable to the "Carlos Morris go do something" play, but more by degree than kind. Minnesota desperately needs another knockdown three point shooter to space the floor, and as Rick Pitino said about Larry Bird he's not walking through the door anytime soon.
Minnesota next plays Iowa on Valentine's Day. The Gophers are going to get stomped.