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Men’s basketball preview: Gophers take on #10 Michigan

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Gophers look for first road win of the season in Ann Arbor

NCAA Basketball Tournament - West Regional - Anaheim Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

The Gophers notched yet another win over a Top 25 team when they decimated the Ohio State Buckeyes at home on Sunday. For Minnesota it was yet another tally in the win column in what has become an exciting turnaround and one that has vaulted them to #16 in the nation. The Gophers have won four of their last five, each of which have come against teams that were or are ranked in the top 25. Truly remarkable considering how they looked after getting stomped by Illinois just a few weeks ago.

The turnaround has coincided with Liam Robbins finding his footing, Marcus Carr doing more than just scoring and Gabe Kalscheur elevating himself into the conference’s best defender. For now, Minnesota looks like a formidable opponent for any Big Ten team and continues to land haymakers against the conference’s best teams.

The Gophers are in the midst of a brutal start to the conference season and the going doesn’t get any easier on Wednesday when they travel to Ann Arbor to take on the undefeated Michigan Wolverines, who they will see twice in 10 days. Michigan is good and the Gophers have been terrible on the road in their two games away from Williams Arena. However, Minnesota will be the best team the Wolverines have faced this season. Should be a good one.

Essentials:

Opponent:

Michigan Wolverines (9-0, 4-0)

Date and Time:

Wednesday, Jan. 6 @ 7:30 p.m. CT

Location:

Crisler Center (Ann Arbor, Mich.)

TV:

BTN

Radio:

KFAN 100.3-FM

Tell me more about the opponent.

Another day another excellent conference opponent. Michigan is 9-0 on the season and 4-0 in the Big Ten, having defeated Nebraska, Penn State, Maryland and Northwestern. Hardly a murderers row of conference opponents if we’re being honest. In fact, Michigan has only played and beaten on ranked opponent this year — Northwestern — who they stomped by 19 points. So, that begs the question: are the Wolverines getting fat on lesser opponents?

Freshman standout Hunter Dickinson has led the way for Michigan so far, leading the team in scoring (16.9 ppg), rebounding (8.1 rpg) and blocks (1.5 bpg) while shooting an absurd 71.8% from the field, which leads the conference. He will be a tough matchup for Robbins. Senior forward Isaiah Livers (13.9 ppg) and sophomore guard Franz Wagner (12.2 ppg) round out the double digit scorers.

Michigan has a glowing offense overall but they don’t take incredible care of the ball. And while they are great from the free throw line they don’t get there a ton. They also don’t force a ton of turnovers either, and the Gophers have been great at taking care of the ball this year.

The matchup to watch is Dickinson vs. Robbins down low. Neither has faced an opponent like the other, and the Gophers have done well when Robbins is a key part of the offense. We’ll see.

Predictions

Minnesota has gotten stomped in both of their road games this year, which both came against good teams. This is no different. Will they change their approach? They’ve shot poorly from the three-point line in both losses, and a few makes would significantly alter things. Minnesota will be the best team the Wolverines have faced yet this year.

Until the Gophers can prove they can take care of business on the road, though, I can’t predict a win from them, especially against an undefeated opponent. I’ll take Michigan by seven.