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Gophers Invade Welsh-Ryan Arena to Face Northwestern - OPEN THREAD

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Sandra Dukes-USA TODAY Sports

Where

Evanston

When

8:00 PM

How

ESPNU

Pos. Minnesota Golden Gophers Pnt/Gm Pnt/Gm Northwestern Wildcats Pos.
PG Nate Mason 14.7 11.7 Bryant McIntosh PG
G Dupree McBrayer 12.7 15.7 Scottie Lindsey G
F Amir Coffey 12.0 7.6 Sanjay Lumpkin G
F Jordan Murphy 11.0 13.7 Vic Law F
C Reggie Lynch 8.2 2.5 Barret Benson F
Bench Eric Curry 6.7 5.6 Nathan Taphorn Bench
Bench Akeem Springs 8.6 8.1 Gavin Skelly Bench
Bench Michael Hurt 1.2 7.4 Isiah Brown Bench

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Efficiency Stats (national rank in parenthesis if significant)

Minnesota (37) Northwestern (44)
Off PPP 1.076 1.099
Def PPP 0.920 (17) 0.953
Off TO% 16.6% 16.0%
Def TO% 19.0% 18.8%
Off Reb % 29.0% 32.0%
Def Reb % 71.1% 69.8%

These teams have a relatively similar profile in terms of KenPom numbers. The Gophers might be slightly strong defensively and in rebounding but it is not a significant difference. What to watch out for here is the three-point shooting of Northwestern, particularly on their home floor. They shoot over 37% from behind the arc and 34% of their points come from three (as opposed to 25% for the Gophers).

Keys to a Gopher Win

Maroon_key_mediumDefend the Three - We are pretty good at defending the three overall but there are stretches where teams get consistent open looks, make them and go on big runs. See St. Johns early, Michigan State in the second half and Purdue at periods in the second half. We cannot allow Northwestern to get clean looks at three. Get to shooters, make them put it on the floor and then defend the rim.

Maroon_key_medium Get to the Free Throw Line - We get to the line a LOT, so much that it is probably the one thing that would define our offense more than anything else. We need to get penetration that results in baskets in the lane and/or free throws. If NU goes to that 1-3-1, things will be interesting to see how/if we continue to get penetration. It should still be there, but it's different and sometimes teams struggle to attack the right lanes. But NU has mostly been a man team this year.

Prediction

Seeing Northwestern start strong and then fade into an NIT team, missing the NCAA Tournament yet again, is one of my favorite things in all of college basketball. Tonight is the beginning of that death march. I'm really just high on the Gophers right now and even though we kind of struggle at Welsh-Ryan, I think we win.