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Minnesota Basketball: Previewing Miami

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The Hurricanes come to town as part the ACC/B1G Challenge

NCAA Basketball: North Florida at Miami
The Canes are ranked No. 10 in the AP Top 25.
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Gophers had a wild and wacky time out in Brooklyn last weekend, complete with a blowout over UMass in a high school gym, a convincing win over a full Alabama team, and loss to a three-player Crimson Tide contingent. Add it all up and Minnesota went 2-0 and moved up to No. 12 in the national polls.

What’s been going right this season for the Gophers? Pretty much everything. They’re one of the top offenses and defenses in the country and the personnel has matched up well with nearly everyone they’ve faced. Jordan Murphy is in the National Player of the Year conversation and Reggie Lynch has cleaned up his fouling, while Nate Mason and Amir Coffey are scoring 25 points per game together in the backcourt.

The meat of the non-conference schedule continues on Wednesday, as the Gophers host the No. 10 Miami Hurricanes as part the ACC/B1G Challenge. Miami has steadily moved up the polls this season and is 5-0 on the young season. The drawback? They haven’t faced anyone yet this year; their best win is over La Salle (128 according to KenPom). Are they in for a rude awakening as they travel on the road to The Barn?

Essentials:

Who are the Gophers playing?

Miami (FL) Hurricanes (5-0, 0-0)

What time are they playing?

Wednesday, Nov. 29 @ 8:15 p.m.

Where are they playing?

Williams Arena

Can I watch the game on TV?

Yes, ESPN2.

Can I listen to the game on the radio?

Yes, 100.3 KFAN

Tell me more about the opponent.

Miami has been doing pretty under head coach Jim Larranaga in his six years at the program. They’ve been to the NCAA Tournament in three of the past five years, including the previous two. And this year’s team might be his best yet.

The best performers this year have been underclassmen, including the team’s top scorer Dewan Huell, who is leading the team in both scoring and rebounding. Given that the Hurricanes looked to have their biggest strengths in the backcourt, the emergence of Huell in his second season has been a welcome development.

Ja’Quan Newton and Bruce Brown round out the backcourt for Miami, where Newton is averaging nearly 12 points per game, while Brown is stuffing the stat sheet with more than nine points, eight rebounds and five assists from the wing.

The Hurricane offense has been good this season, but their calling so far has been defense, and are ranked seventh in the nation in defensive efficiency. In fact, no opponent has scored more than 65 points in a game this season.

Keys to the Game

Overpower the interior

Miami has been doing most of its scoring from inside the three-point line so far this year and hasn’t really been that interested or effective from deep. As a team that thrives when the action is happening in the paint, the Gophers should be licking their chops. Especially when Huell will be introduced to a very physical frontcourt for the first time this season.

Other reasons for optimism? At 6-11, Huell is very tall. But at 220 lbs. he’s basically a stringbean. For comparison, Jordan Murphy is five inches shorter and 20 lbs. heavier. It should be tough sledding for the Miami bigs down low.

Predictions

KenPom likes the Gophers in this one, giving them a three-point edge at 75-72. I think Minnesota continues their dominating physical play, beating out Miami by six.