Not gonna lie, this game is really huge for the Gophers if they want to make the NCAA Tournament. On paper, Rutgers has all of the things that would make this look like a really good win for Minnesota. With a NET of 22 and playing at Rutgers, this might end up being the best win on the Gopher resume. IF they can come away with a win. But can they pull it off?
KEYS TO A GOPHER WIN
Shooting is Key - I’ve successfully avoided calling out shooting as a key for a couple games in a row. And the Gophers beat a good Penn State team while not shooting particularly well from three. In fact they have had back to back wins while shooting 25% from three. Today they need to be better.
Clamp Down on Defense - The second half of the Penn State game was really impressive and improved defense for the Gophers. Now they go up against one of the worst offenses in the Big Ten. Some excellent defense will mean we don’t have to score as many points on offense, cause that may be a challenge.
Overcome Officiating - On the road against a physical defense, this game may not get called to our liking. This is nothing new, not because Minnesota gets slighted but because this is how things work in the Big Ten. Have to beat the Rutgers 6th man tonight.
Daniel Oturu is playing out of his mind lately and is absolutely dominant in the paint. And he’s doing that while his outside shooters are struggling. Just imagine if the Gophers were better shooters from three, how much that would open up the lane for Oturu or Marcus Carr on penetration.
I realize that Rutgers is maybe one of the best defenses in the conference. And they are playing at home where calls are more likely to go their way. Scoring is going to be a challenge.
This is going to be a grind it out, ugly, Big Ten basketball game. If the Gophers hit enough threes, I think they win. If they shoot under 30% then this game will not go our way.
I’ll be optimistic.
Minnesota - 61
Rutgers - 57