The Gophers finally got back on the right side of the box score on Thursday, with a much needed win over the lowly Northwestern Wildcats. With their backs against the wall Minnesota finally got some above average play from Amir Coffey, who was a one-man wrecking crew with 31 points and 11 rebounds. If only that level of Coffey would show up every night, right?
The stakes get a little higher on Tuesday, when the #14 Purdue Boilermakers come to town. Purdue has its sights set on the Big Ten regular season title and will be motivated to grab that #1 B1G Tournament seed and better placement in the NCAA Tournament. For the Gophers, they need win a win down the stretch to polish up a resume that has gotten a little grimey in recent weeks. Depending on on who you ask Minnesota needs somewhere between one and three wins the rest of the season to comfortably make the tournament. Between a home date with Purdue, a road contest against Maryland in the regular season finale and a first-round win in the conference tournament, those wins will be hard to come by.
Purdue isn’t unbeatable by any means, and have a handful of true road losses, but it will take a big-time effort on the part of the Gophers to pull off the upset
Who are the Gophers playing?
Purdue Boilermakers (15-3, 22-7)
What time are they playing?
Tuesday, March 5th @ 7 p.m. CT
Where are they playing?
Can I watch the game on TV?
Can I listen to the game on the radio?
Yes, KTLK 1130-AM/103.5-FM
Tell me more about the opponent.
Remember when the Gophers were up by 13 points on the road against Purdue earlier this year? Those were fun times. That is, until the Boilers went on a 21-2 run to completely erase the deficit and cruise to a 10-point victory. In that game Minnesota got great performances from Coffey, Daniel Oturu and Jordan Murphy but had a five-minutes lapse that basically gave the game back to Purdue. My point in this walk down memory lane? For a not insignificant amount of time the Gophers were thoroughly beating Purdue. And this was on the road in one of the toughest places to play in the conference.
Purdue still has Carsen Edwards, the conference’s leading scorer, and a guard who has basically been unstoppable all year. However, he was locked down by Gabe Kalscheur for a fair amount of the last game, so it CAN be done. Ryan Cline is still one of the premier three-point shooters in the conference, though he’s been a bit erratic lately.
And then there’s everyones favorite goofy, obnoxious Dutchman, Matt Haarms, who is gunning for the runner-up award for most hateable player in the conference behind Brad Davison. When he’s not fist pumping or having a standing seizure on the court, Haarms is averaging nine points and more than five rebounds a game.
Beating the Purdue Boilermakers, even at home, is a very tall order. They are atop the Big Ten standings for a reason and will not be an easy out. But they’re not invincible, and with the Gophers scraping for a win in any way, there’s a desperation that the Boilers won’t be able to match. Can you predict a Minnesota win? No way. But it’ll be a close one.
Put it this way — between a home game against Purdue and a road game against Maryland, I like Minnesota’s chances better at home against Purdue. But they’ll need high-level performances from Coffey, Murphy and Kalscheur to have a chance.