The Gophers missed an opportunity for a key Quad 1 win last Saturday on the road at Penn State, falling to the Nittany Lions by six, 83-77. Minnesota made an impressive comeback and even had Daniel Oturu at the line for a one-and-one with a chance to cut the lead to one, but alas, the effort fell short. Let that be a lesson kids — never fall behind by 19 points.
For the Gophers it was another reminder that this team has basically two speeds: utter dominance and complete ineptitude. Rarely do they fall into a comfortable cadence of just getting the job done. Alas, this is why they are solidly a bubble team these days trying desperately to rack up enough conference wins to sneak into the NCAA Tournament. The remaining opportunities can nearly be counted on one hand.
If one thing is for sure, the Gophers need to take care of business at home the rest of the way. The path to 11 conference wins means wins over teams like Iowa, Indiana and Maryland, while holding serve against Northwestern and Nebraska. Impossible? No. Difficult? Extremely.
At some point the Gophers need to actually start winning some games. Sooner rather than later, close will no longer cut it. That begins on Sunday against Iowa, where Minnesota will open up a homestand after having a week off to get healthy and lick wounds. Iowa, meanwhile, is coming off a tough road loss against Indiana, which was just three days ago.
Iowa Hawkeyes (8-6, 17-8)
Date and Time:
Sunday, Feb. 16 @ noon CT
Tell me more about the opponent.
When Minnesota last met up with Iowa it was 2019, there was barely any snow on the ground and it looked like the Gophers might be nothing more than a cellar dweller in the Big Ten. A 20-point evisceration at the hands of the Hawkeyes in Iowa City didn’t help that perception, though the Gophers have turned their season around to a certain extent since then.
Iowa has had a very nice season since then. They’re 8-6 in the Big Ten, ranked 30th in NET and are sitting at #21 in the AP Top 25. Their offense is really good as they score the most points per game in the conference and are ranked 4th in offensive efficiency in KenPom. Luka Garza is an NBA player, leads the conference in scoring and is nearly averaging a double double. Joe Weiskamp has been fantastic in his sophomore year, averaging 15.4 points per game and 6.1 rebounds.
But that’s offense. On defense? The Hawkeyes have been pretty much abysmal. They have the worst defensive rating per KenPom besides Northwestern and Nebraska, and are giving up the second-most points per game in the conference. They’re not forcing many turnovers and teams are scoring pretty easily and effectively against them.
CJ Fredrick, who is averaging more than 10 points per game, injured his ankle in Iowa’s loss against Indiana and is questionable for this game. He’d leave a pretty big gap in the lineup if he isn’t ready to go.
If you recall in the previous meeting between these two teams, Marcus Carr and Gabe Kalscheur combined to shoot an astounding 1-20 from the field. Add in Payton Willis and the backcourt shot 3-29 including 2-19 from three point range. I can assure you that will not happen again. The Gophers got a ton of good looks in that game but there was almost a literal lid on the rim. We’ve seen what Minnesota can do when they shoot effectively, and this is the type of defense they can make some noise against.
The Gophers played extremely well against Wisconsin at home after a week off. This is a similar scenario and Iowa is coming off short rest. I’m taking Minnesota by 5.