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Gophers Head to Michigan State, Seek to Avenge Lone Big Ten Loss - OPEN THREAD

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Jordan Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Where

East Lansing

When

6:00 PM

How

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Pos. Minnesota Golden Gophers Pnt/Gm Pnt/Gm Michigan State Spartans Pos.
PG Nate Mason 14.4 7.2 Cassius Winston PG
G Dupree McBrayer 12.1 12.6 Eron Harris G
F Amir Coffey 12.8 5.8 Josh Langford G
F Jordan Murphy 10.6 14.3 Miles Bridges F
C Reggie Lynch 8.6 13.8 Nick Ward F
Bench Eric Curry 5.9 4.4 Tum Tum Nairn Jr. Bench
Bench Akeem Springs 9.1 5.8 Alvin Ellis Bench
Bench Bokary Konate 2.4 6.3 Matt McQuaid Bench

Michigan State has returned their best player, Miles Bridges, since the last time these two teams met. Bridges is a true freshman and was a potential All-American before getting injured and missing 7 games. Since returning the last two games, he has had a couple of quiet nights, but this kid is dangerous and will add a new dimension to the Spartan offense.

With that said it was Alvin Ellis having a career game and Tum Tum Nairn having his best game of the year. So let's just plan on playing good defense on all the Spartans.

Efficiency Stats (national rank in parenthesis if significant)

Minnesota (32)

Michigan St (46)

Off PPP 1.093 1.090
Def PPP 0.924 (12) 0.956
Off TO% 16.3% 20.5% (267)
Def TO% 18.8% 16.9% (293)
Off Reb % 29.2% 28.3%
Def Reb % 70.87% 71.9%

As it often does when you play Michigan State, turnovers and rebounding are pretty important metrics.

Keys to a Gopher Win

Maroon_key_medium Turnovers - In the previous match-up the Spartans only turned it over on 15.4% of their possessions, which is their second best TO% of the season (best game was against Oral Roberts). So they did a very nice job of taking care of the ball. Now that we are on their floor, it would be nice to see them revert back to closer to a 20% turnover rate.

Maroon_key_medium Find Ways to Score - We get to the free throw line and we get there enough that even when we shoot poorly it has helped us to win games. But sometimes we are going to have to find a way to score field goals too. On the road, particularly against a team that has a solid defensive reputation, you don't always get calls that will send you to the line. We need to play physical and find ways to score when the refs are the Spartan 6th man. In the first game, the Spartans made penetration for us very difficult in the second half and we struggled to score. I suspect they'll employ this strategy from the opening tip.

Maroon_key_mediumAvoid Foul Trouble - We are so much better when our bigs are playing the majority of the minutes. Reggie Lynch in particular is a game changer on defense. Having him playing his full allotment of minutes is huge. Jordan Murphy is a guy who can get us points in the paint and gets to the line frequently, he needs to play without fear of getting benched for fouls. Curry is important too and he has taken a couple steps forward in the last couple games. These guys need to be on the floor.

Prediction

I'm sticking with my working theory that teams like this are more difficult for the Gophers to beat. Michigan State is more disciplined than most Big Ten teams and if they are disciplined to execute on both ends of the floor, we will struggle. This is what they did in the second half and slowly closed the gap before winning. I think the Gophers lose, but I don't care. They can be 3-2 in conference and the season is still very bright. A win and I might start getting carried away with enthusiasm.