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Minnesota Basketball: Previewing Florida Atlantic

Gophers looks for third straight win

NCAA Basketball: Florida Atlantic at Texas Tech Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The Gophers creep closer to full-on conference mode, with just two non-conference games left. Today is Florida Atlantic. The Owls have had a rough go of it so far this season, so they’ll have their work cut out for them against Minnesota. They’ve had two bad losses to Arkansas State and South Florida, and their best win came against Florida Gulf Coast a few weeks ago.

Essentials:

Who are the Gophers playing?

Florida Atlantic Owls (6-5)

What time are they playing?

Sat., Dec. 23 @ 2:30 p.m. CT

Where are they playing?

Williams Arena

Can I watch the game on TV?

Yes, BTN.

Can I listen to the game on the radio?

Yes, 100.3 KFAN.

Tell me more about the opponent.

The Owls have had quite a bit of trouble scoring the ball this year. They rank 282nd in the nation in offensive efficiency and 328th in effective FG%. Long story short, they can’t score against good teams, and have only cracked 70 points three times against D-I teams this year.

However, as luck would have it (and I say this sarcastically), the Owls have a couple of veteran guards who can shoot the three and score in droves. So, the Gophers porous three-point defense should be put to the test if they’re not careful.

Gerdarius Troutman is averaging more than 13 points per game while shooting 44% from deep. He’s hit multiple three-point attempts in every game except two this year.

FAU also features Justin Massey, who jacks threes like nobody’s business. He leads the team in scoring at 14 ppg while shooting 34% from deep.

Finally, the Owls have have 7-foot giant Ronald Delph, who is stuffing the stat sheet with 13.5 ppg and 9 boards. Will he be limited by Jordan Murphy and Reggie Lynch? He had trouble staying on the court last year but seems to have fixed that problem in 2017.

Keys to the Game

Stop the three

FAU is the classic David that the Gophers have had trouble with this year — they’re veteran-led and they can shoot the three. Minnesota has been flustered in games against teams like this where they haven’t been able to obtain or maintain a big lead. If FAU gets some confidence the Gophers have regularly entered panic mode.

If Minnesota can close out and stop Troutman and Massey from going off they should be able to handle the Owls with ease. But as we saw in the Drake game, nothing is guaranteed.

Predictions

KenPom likes the Gophers in this one, predicting an 20-point win, 86-66. I’ll take the Gophers by 12. FAU won’t go away easily.