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Gophers host Kansas City, look for sixth straight win

Minnesota now 5-0 after ACC/Big Ten Challenge victory

NCAA Basketball: UMKC at Kansas Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota survived yet another scare on Tuesday, this time against Boston College, who came into the game presenting as a less-than-formidable opponent. That all changed once the Eagles started shooting. The Gophers found themselves down 15 in the second half to a a BC squad that seemingly couldn’t miss from long range and without a ton of energy.

It looked like a sure loss for Minnesota, who came into the game an 8-point favorite, but the team miraculously ripped off a 16-0 run to take the lead and eventually won in OT. It was a thrilling win, to be sure, but it belied plenty of weaknesses on a Minnesota team that isn’t really passing the eye test these days. It was the younger spark plugs off the bench who got the 16-0 run going, not players like Gabe Kalscheur, Both Gach or Liam Robbins. And while it was a good thing to see that the depth of the team could win it games, it was also concerning that much of the starting five still left plenty to be desired against inferior competition. What happens when Illinois rolls around next week?

Before that, though, Minnesota hosts Kansas City in a final tune-up before conference play begins. The Kangaroos are expected to be a middle-of-road Summit League team, which means the Gophers should be heavy favorites, at least on paper. However, the way things have gone recently, that’s hardly a given.

Essentials:

Opponent:

Kansas City Kangaroos (2-2)

Date and Time:

Thursday, Dec. 10 @ 7 p.m. CT

Location:

Williams Arena

TV:

FS1

Radio:

KTLK 103.5-FM

Tell me more about the opponent.

Minnesota leads the all-time series 2-0 and last beat UMKC by 18 in 2015. The Roos haven’t played a game since Nov. 30 as their Dec. 3 against South Dakota was canceled due to COVID. So far this season they’ve beaten an NAIA and D-III team but have lost to Kansas State and Southeast Missouri State.

UMKC is in its first season in the Summit League after coming over from the WAC, where they finished in 4th place last year. Brandon McKissic leads the team, averaging 15.3 ppg, while Josiah Allick and Marvin Nesbitt Jr. (14.5 and 13) are both averaging double figures as well. McKissic, a senior, was on the All-WAC Defensive Team last year and is the best player on the team. Against KSU he racked up 24 points and was 4-8 from long range.

The Roos turn the ball over a ton, and the Gophers have done a good job turning opponent mistakes into points this year. They’re also letting the opponents shoot the ball pretty well. Can Minnesota take advantage from the field?


Predictions

The Gophers come into the game as 19-point favorites, though you could have said the same thing against North Dakota just two games ago. The bottom line is they need to come to play right away or they could finally be tripped up by an opponent. UMKC has played both D-I opponents tightly, so it’s not like they’ll roll over.

Still, the talent gap is so large that I’m taking Minnesota by 15, 88-73.