The Gophers just took care of Rutgers at home with a dominating second half to win by 18. Up next is probably the second worst team in the Big Ten, but this one is on the road.
Brad Underwood is in his second year at Illinois and the former Stephen F Austin coach is struggling to get things going in the right direction in the Big Ten. But this is still the Big Ten and even the teams who are going to finish at or near the bottom are capable of beating anybody above them, especially at home. The Gophers are not nearly good enough to win this game just by walking on to the floor. Here’s what they need to do to win tonight.
KEYS TO A GOPHER WIN
No Turnovers - Underwood built Stephen F Austin into a mid-major team that was as dangerous as any in the Big Ten Tournament, what he has ALWAYS done well is force turnovers. And if Illinois does anything well this year, it is force turnovers. The Gophers need to take care of the ball.
Get to the Free Throw Line - I say this one a lot, cause it is part of what we need to do for our offense to be successful. But Illinois is also pretty consistent with how they foul their opponents and put them on the line. If we draw fouls well and they tend to foul, this trend needs to be a factor in tonight’s game. Also...please make them.
More “Good” Isaiah Washington please - Jelly has struggled for much of this season and at times isn’t even given time on the floor. But against Rutgers he didn’t miss a shot, had zero turnovers and was an offensive catalyst. Regaining confidence in his shot is a good thing as long as it doesn’t lead to taking a lot of bad shots. More of the Jelly who slices down the heart of the defense and finds teammates for open shots is exactly what we need.
It is all about turnovers for me. If the Gophers take care of the ball and find a way to execute their offense, I have a lot of confidence in a victory. Fun fact...between 1987 and 2010 the Gophers did not win a game in Champaign. But starting with that win in 2010 we are 3-2 in Assembly Hall / State Farm Center.
I think the Gophers win this game and get some momentum going.
Minnesota - 76
Illinois - 69