The #12 ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers women’s basketball team will try and remain undefeated in a New Year’s Eve Matinee in Ann Arbor against the Michigan Wolverines. The Gophers are currently tied for the second best start in program history with the 2002-2003 team who also started 12-0. Gopher coach Lindsay Whalen is currently tied with Pam Borton for the most wins to start their coaching career in Minnesota with 12 as well. The only coach at a Big Ten school with more wins in his or her first year at that school is Ohio State’s Debbie Wilson, who started 14-0 in 1972-73.
Minnesota is coming in off of a Big Ten opening win at home over the Wisconsin Badgers. Minnesota struggled to shoot the ball against the Badgers as they collapsed on both Kenisha Bell and Destiny Pitts negating any open looks the Gophers two stars had. This allowed senior center Analise Lamke to succeed once again as she led the team with 21 points.
Minnesota will look to snap a two game losing streak in Ann Arbor. While Minnesota holds a 14-16 all-time record against the Wolverines on the road, they have not won in Crisler Arena since 2014. Last season the Gophers upset the #23 ranked Wolverines in the barn by a final score of 93-87 led by 26 points by Carlie Wagner.
The Wolverines enter the game with a 9-4 record on the season. Michigan has played four ranked teams this season and have a 1-3 record against them. The Wolverines defeated then #21 Missouri at a tournament in Florida but dropped games to #10 Texas, #13 NC State and #22 Marquette. Michigan had won four non-conference games in a row but dropped their first Big Ten game of the season last weekend to Nebraska in Lincoln.
Michigan has been a much better team at home this season—though their home schedule has been much much easier. The Wolverines are 5-0 this season at Crisler Center, averaging 82.4 points per game on 47.1 percent shooting at home. Their defense has been stout as well allowing just 44.4 points per game in Ann Arbor. Of Course when the best team you faced at home in the non-con was Detroit Mercy....well those numbers might be a bit inflated.
The Wolverines have three players averaging double figures. Senior center Hailie Thome averages 12.3 points per game, freshman forward Naz Hillman averages 11.9 points per game, and senior guard Nicole Munger averages 10.7 ppg. Munger is a major three point shooting thread and she needs just three more for 150 in her career. Michigan also is a very good rebounding team and will be a good match for the Gophers below the rim. The Wolverines also have significantly more depth than the Gophers do, but Minnesota starting five is stronger.
If the Gophers can stay out of foul trouble and make some shots, they should be able to win this game fairly handily. If they can’t do either of those things, Minnesota could struggle and we could see their first loss of the season.
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN
#12 Minnesota Golden Gophers @ Michigan Wolverines
Where: Crisler Arena, Ann Arbor, Michigan
When: 1PM Monday
Stream: BTN+ ($$)
Radio: 96.7 FM, I Heart Radio App
Live Stats: HERE