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Minnesota Basketball: Previewing Santa Clara

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Gophers face Santa Clara in second Vancouver Showcase matchup

NCAA Basketball: Gonzaga at Santa Clara Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

The Gophers survived their first panic attack of the year, blowing a 14-point lead to Texas A&M before rebounding to secure a 69-64 victory in the opening game of the Vancouver Showcase. For Minnesota, it was their second non-conference matchup against a P5 team in as many games, though it had a distinctly different feel than the home contest against the Utah Utes a week before.

A sloppy affair on both teams, the Minnesota offense went stagnant at the worst time but, much like how they dealt with a late Utah run, they rose to the occasion instead of wilting under the pressure. For a team that has relied on three true freshmen quite extensively already this season, to see them regroup and reclaim a victory that nearly slipped through their fingertips was heartening.

Things ease up a bit on Tuesday night, as the Gophers face by far the most beatable opponent of their three matchups out west in Santa Clara. The Broncos roll into the game at 0-3, having lost each of their games by double digits and are now without their best player, who broke his left thumb in the second game of the season.

Essentials:

Who are the Gophers playing?

Santa Clara Broncos (0-3)

What time are they playing?

Tuesday, Nov. 20 @ 8 p.m. CT

Where are they playing?

Vancouver Convention Centre

Can I watch the game on TV?

Yes, BTN.

Can I listen to the game on the radio?

Yes, KFAN 100.3 FM

Tell me more about the opponent.

The Broncos are in a bit of disarray, and the early season returns haven’t been good for a team that hopes to compete in a mid-major conference that now boasts the likes of Gonzaga, St. Mary’s and BYU. They lost their opening game at home against lowly Prairie View A&M before dropping another home game against UC Irvine and then getting run by Washington in their opening game of the Vancouver Showcase. Nowhere to go but up, right?

Well, not so fast. They lost their best player, KJ Feagin, to a broken thumb in the Irvine game, and now must replace their top scorer with players from a team that is lacking in senior leadership.

How’s this for a blast from the past? The Broncos added a grad transfer this offseason, and it was none other than former Minnesota freshman Josh Martin. Remember Josh? Last time we saw him he was leaving the program in the middle of the season in December 2014, which was curious timing because he had to sit out the remainder of that season and the first half of the following season. Either way, he ended up at Cal Poly for 2.5 seasons but never really reached the level we’d expected when he first committed to the U.

Long story short, Santa Clara has had trouble scoring so far this year and it’s not looking like they’ll be able to turn it around against the Gophers.

What to Watch For

Can the offense get back on track?
While the Gophers managed to claw back and snatch victory from certain defeat, they looked anything but clear-headed and cohesive. They committed 12 first half turnovers, and 20 for the game. Jordan Murphy ran into foul trouble, Amir Coffey had six turnovers and a Jelly/Dupree McBrayer combined to go 4-17 from the field. It wasn’t the prettiest of outings for the offense. We know they’re capable of more, and a date with the Broncos could be a great opportunity to get things moving in the right direction

Predictions

KenPom likes the Gophers in this one, giving them a 13-point edge and predicting a 78-65 victory. We’re going with Minnesota in this one. I’ll take them by 15, 85-70.