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Minnesota Basketball: Previewing North Carolina A&T

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Will Eric Curry play? That’s the real question for this game.

NCAA Basketball: No.Carolina A&T at Virginia Tech
Quavius Copeland leads the Aggies in scoring this year.
Michael Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports

It’s the end of the semester, which means there’s not a ton happening in or around the basketball program. With just two non-conference games remaining for the Gophers, both against two of the nation’s worst teams, it’s all about staying healthy and just winning.

That wasn’t quite so easy in Minnesota’s most recent game 10 days ago against North Florida. The Ospreys hung around and even took a second half lead before succumbing to a bigger, stronger Gophers squad. Once again, the team shot incredibly poorly, and was only 1-15 from behind the arc. Gabe Kalscheur couldn’t find the hoop, going 0-10 from the field and 0-8 from deep. It wasn’t pretty.

Minnesota likely won’t be challenged in its final two games against North Carolina A&T and Mount St. Mary’s. Both schools rank in the mid-300s in KenPom and have barely sniffed a top-200 win. And with Eric Curry a game-time decision tonight, it’s time to shake off the rust of the early season and get down to business. And that means clearing up some of these shooting woes.

The competition level is about to greatly intensify. Will the Gophers be ready?

Essentials:

Who are the Gophers playing?

North Carolina A&T (4-7)

What time are they playing?

Friday, Dec. 21 @ 7 p.m. CT

Where are they playing?

Williams Arena

Can I watch the game on TV?

Sort of. BTN Plus, which requires an online subscription.

Can I listen to the game on the radio?

Yes, KFAN 100.3-FM

Tell me more about the opponent.

A perennial bottom-feeder in one of the weakest conferences in the country, the Aggies zoomed out of the MEAC basement last year and into an unexpected postseason appearance in the CIT. They notched 20 wins just a year after winning only three games, thanks to a handful of transfers who picked up major slack.

Unfortunately, the Aggies are starting over largely from scratch. They have just five players who logged time last year, plus four freshmen, two JUCO pickups and three D-1 transfer. That’s a lot of new faces.

Quavius Copeland, a Middle Tennessee State transfer, has emerged as the team’s most dangerous offensive threat. He’s averaging 12.5 ppg after notching just 1.1 ppg at MTSU. He’s supported by grad transfer Terry Harris, who spend time at Houston Baptist and Eastern Michigan before coming to NC A&T. He’s averaging nearly 12 points a game.

The Aggies rank abysmally when it comes to giving up offensive rebounds, an area where the Gophers excel, and are overall showing to be a poor offensive team. This is a prime opportunity for the Minnesota offense to get back on track.

Predictions

The Gophers are the clear favorite in this one, which isn’t surprising. KenPom likes Minnesota by 20, giving them a 82-62 nod. I’ll take Minnesota by 15.