|Minnesota Golden Gophers
|Michigan State Spartans
|Tum Tum Nairn Jr.
If there is one coach in the Big Ten I want to avoid in the post season, it is Tom Izzo. Unfortunately that is the Gopher's first draw in the Big Ten Tournament. In addition to not wanting to face Izzo, the Spartans played a complete and crisp game yesterday as they beat Penn State by 27 in their opening Big Ten Tourney game. This game allowed many of the Spartan starters to keep their minutes down and conceivably their legs fresh for this afternoon's game.
Efficiency Stats (national rank in parenthesis if significant)
Michigan St (43)
|Off Reb %
|Def Reb %
As it often does when you play Michigan State, turnovers and rebounding are pretty important metrics.
Keys to a Gopher Win
Turnovers - Every single time I look at the efficiency numbers for Michigan State, I look at their turnover issues and think, "we should force some turnovers and that's a key to winning." And every time they have low turnovers against the Gophers and it isn't a factor. Maybe this time it will...maybe? Honestly, they rank 310th in all of D1 basketball in offensive turnover percentage. How about turning it over a bit this afternoon, eh Sparty?
Dictate Offensively, Get to the Line - More than any other Big Ten team, Michigan State has kept the Gophers off the free throw line. In the first game, the Gophers got to the line a lot in the first half. Then Michigan State packed the paint, contained penetration and kept us shooting jumpers. It worked as they came back to win and it worked even better in game 2 when they throttled the Gophers at home. Gophers need to find ways to run our offense scoring in the paint and/or getting to the line.
Avoid Foul Trouble - We are so much better when our bigs are playing the majority of the minutes. Reggie needs to stay out of foul trouble and defend the rim. Murphy needs to maintain his aggressive play and Curry can spell them.
I've been of the mindset all year that this is the type of team we struggle to beat and honestly I'd rather be facing any other Big Ten team (any of them). Yet I'm strangely optimistic. What the heck, I'm a BELIEVER! Gophers win!