We talked last week about how the Gophers had a narrative brewing, with that narrative being that they can beat anyone at home and no one on the road. After throttling Michigan at home and nabbing their second top-10 victory of the season Minnesota promptly had its first non-top 25 road game postponed when Nebraska put things on hold this week.
So, I guess the narrative still stands eh? The win over Michigan was a huge feather in their cap and finished off a brutal stretch of a schedule that saw them win five of nine games against extremely difficult competition. It proved that the team is legit and they’ve risen to #17 in the nation in the process. Now to get that pesky road win.
But before that happens the Gophers welcome Maryland to The Barn. The Terps are a bit of an enigma. Their record doesn’t stick out as particularly notable but they’ve also ripped off road wins against Illinois and Wisconsin. You don’t just do that by accident.
The schedule is looking about as rosy as it can for a Big Ten team, as the Gophers now stare down a back half that has them facing just one ranked team in the final 12 games. And it starts at home on Saturday.
Maryland Terrapins (8-7, 2-6)
Date and Time:
Saturday, January 22nd @ 1 p.m. CT
Tell me more about the opponent.
Maryland has won a couple tough games this year, as they went on the road and took down Illinois and Wisconsin. What was notable about those victories was that the Terps didn’t eclipse 70 points in either game. In fact, they haven’t done much scoring at all this season. They own a very low tempo rating and love to slow the game down. That can be good when you’re controlling the game, but things can get out of hand when you find yourself down against a team like Minnesota that likes to run.
That tempo issue might be root cause of some ugly losses for Maryland thus far this season. They lost by 24 to Maryland, 22 to Iowa, 14 to Rutgers and 16 to Clemson. Many of those were low scoring affairs as well.
This isn’t a big team either, as their biggest starter is just 6’7”. Could that portend a big game for Liam Robbins? And don’t forget that their best player, Aaron Wiggins, is a wing, and exactly the type of player that Gabe Kalscheur has been shutting down all season.
Junior guard Eric Ayala technically leads the way in scoring with nearly 14 ppg, while sophomore forward Donta Scott is pitching in 13 ppg and 6.6 rpg. Wiggins is scoring 12.5 ppg and adding 5 boards, but he has been scoring much better of late, and has scored 17 or more points in three of the last five games.
It seems on paper like Minnesota matches up well with Maryland, especially given the way they have played at home. This is just their second game in two weeks, so they should be especially rested. The Terps have upset a couple good teams, and if they gum up the Gopher offense it could be one of the ugly games for Minnesota.
Still, if they make it a point to get the ball to Robbins, avoid shooting too many terrible three pointers and play the game their way they should handle Maryland.
I’m taking Minnesota by six.