|Minnesota Golden Gophers
|Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders
It is finally here guys! NCAA Tournament gets going today and the Gophers are a part of it once again. The last time the Gophers were invited to participate they knocked off UCLA in the first round before falling to Florida in the second. Soon after we were in the midst of a coaching search and it was year 4 before Richard Pitino lead the Gophers back.
But today we are a 5-seed, hoping to get past a potent 12-seeded Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders (wtf is a Blue Raider anyway?). They have a big three who account for 134% of their points, or something close to that. In all seriousness, this is a talented team and should be an exciting matchup.
Keys to a Gopher Win
Foul Trouble - This so critical today. I think our interior defense is going to be a lot for MTSU's scorers to handle and this is a big advantage for the Gophers. But the moment Lynch gets in foul trouble or we have to rely on Konate for a lot of interior minutes...we are in trouble. And this key applies to the guards as well. Why? Because we have no backups. Hopefully some non-Big Ten officials will be good for us.
Turnovers - Middle Tennessee State is pretty good at turning teams over. We are typically not that bad at keeping possession, but the Michigan game showed how things can turn sideways when we turn it over a lot. There is no doubt they will pressure us and I think it'll be interesting to see how they pressure our bigs with guys running at them. But please, please, please don't turn the ball over.
Give Rest to Guards - Pitino needs to find a way to give little rests to Mason, McBrayer and Coffey. In the Michigan game they played 40, 40 and 39 minutes respectively. Find ways to get them some bench time without sacrificing too much on the floor so in the final 5 minutes they aren't completely worn out.
Gophes win. Too much has been made all week about how this is the prime 12/5 upset. The Gophers have been hearing it all week as well and they'll come out ready to show people (just wait for all of the #norespect quotes after the game). Gophers win and move on to the second round. #Believer