|Pos.||Minnesota Golden Gophers||Pnt/Gm||Pnt/Gm||Michigan Wolverines||Pos.|
|PG||Nate Mason||15.1||14.3||Derrick Walton Jr||PG|
|G||Akeem Springs||10.0||8.5||Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman||G|
|F||Amir Coffey||12.4||12.8||Zak Irvin||G|
|F||Jordan Murphy||10.5||10.2||D.J. Wilson||F|
|C||Reggie Lynch||8.2||12.2||Moritz Wagner||C|
|Bench||Eric Curry||5.7||8.4||Duncan Robinson||Bench|
|Bench||Dupree McBrayer||10.3||1.5||Xavier Simpson||Bench|
|Bench||Bakary Konate||1.9||4.6||Mark Donnal||Bench|
The Gophers are looking for their 5th consecutive Big Ten win and are hosting the Michigan Wolverines who are looking for their 4th straight conference win. Michigan's streak includes a recent win over Wisconsin and a 19-point drubbing of Michigan State.
Efficiency Stats (national rank in parenthesis if significant)
|Minnesota (39)||Michigan (27)|
|Off PPP||1.082||1.195 (11)|
|Def PPP||0.926 (16)||1.010|
|Off TO%||16.5%||14.7% (6)|
|Off Reb %||30.0%||26.3%|
|Def Reb %||69.8%||71.3%|
Statistically speaking this game is really interesting when Michigan has the ball. The Wolverines have a top 20 offense in terms of efficiency while the Gophers have a top 20 defense. Michigan shoots, and makes, a lot of threes. They rank 16th in the country in terms of % of points that come from behind the arc. One would presume that if the Gophers can limit their three-point open looks, they should make offense difficult on the Wolverines. This has been a strength of the Gophers, rushing shooters to make them put the ball on the floor and then relying on Lynch/Curry/Murphy/Konate to protect the rim.
Keys to a Gopher Win
Defend the Three - Get to their shooters! Especially Walton and Irvin but they can all shoot it. Coach Beilein recruits to his system and it requires all five (or at least four) of this guys on the floor to be capable from behind the arc. We have to get to their shooters and make them put it on the floor. Not that they aren't capable scoring 2-pointers but I'd rather force them off the line and take our chances with our big guys guarding the rim.
Can We Get to the Line? - This one will be interesting as Michigan is 25th in the country and not fouling their opponent and putting them on the free throw line. As I often mention, that is a huge key to our offense. Something is going to have to give in this game. I believe if we can get to the line a lot, it will frustrate Michigan quite a bit and give them the feeling that they are playing 5-on-6. Get to the line!
Amir Coffey Time - I think this is a game we see Coffey have a big game. Mason is going to be crucial on the defensive side guarding Walton Jr. and I think Coffey has a big game with Irvin trying to guard him. Get the freshman going, the Barn rocking and the Gophers roll to a B1G win.
With 5 games left, two of them are likely wins, two of them are likely losses and this one is the swing game. Ken Pom gives us a slight advantage. As usually happens I sat down to write this out and felt like we would probably come up short and as I go along I convince myself that we will win this. So I'll let my optimism prevail and predict a 7 point Gopher win.