Once again the Gophers went on the road against a top team in the conference and once against they walked away looking like they had no idea what they were doing. Minnesota was obliterated by the Michigan Wolverines on Wednesday in what can only be described as a complete undressing at the hands of an undefeated opponent.
From the jump it was clear that Minnesota was overmatched and, despite a mere 6-point halftime deficit, that early indication held true. In fact, at one point it was unclear if the Gophers were going to be able to keep the loss under 40 points. They closed the gap in garbage time but the end result was clear: Minnesota has no idea how to play basketball on the road this season.
It’s a small sample size, and one that only has data points against some of the nation’s top teams. To wit, the Gophers have only played Illinois (#12), Wisconsin (#8) and Michigan (#10) on the road this season. That is a gauntlet. Still, they have yet to even put together a competent half against one of those opponents, let alone keep any of the games close, instead showing a strikingly inept approach in each of them.
The road hardly gets any easier on Sunday, as Minnesota heads to Iowa City in another road test that comes against yet another top team in the Hawkeyes, who are surely looking to avenge the overtime defeat at the hands of Marcus Carr and the Gophers just a couple of weeks ago.
Iowa Hawkeyes (10-2, 4-1)
Date and Time:
Sunday, January 10th @ 1:30 p.m. CT
Carver-Hawkeye Arena (Iowa City, Iowa)
Tell me more about the opponent.
The Gophers got a humungous game from Brandon Johnson in the first meeting, where the senior forward nailed 8 of 9 three-point attempts, including going 4-4 in overtime, to propel Minnesota to an improbable (at the time) win over the Hawkeyes. Luka Garza still scored 32 points and it wasn’t always pretty, but the Gophers still walked away with the win.
But that was at home. Minnesota has been terrible on the road and Iowa has been lights out. Garza is still Garza and is a national player of the year candidate, averaging more than 27 points per game. Joe Weiskamp is checking in at nearly 14 ppg and adding 6.5 rpg as well.
The Hawkeyes have the nation’s second most efficient offense, according to KenPom, and are effectively a juggernaut when they have the ball. The one chink in its armor may be on defense, where they are still allowing opponents to score some points. They give up offensive rebounds at an alarming rate and are allowing teams to score from beyond the three point line more than they’d like. However, they are stopping opponents from getting to the line, something the Gophers have relied on all season to score points.
Until further notice the Gophers cannot be trusted to win on the road, let alone keep it close. From what we’ve seen it feels like the best case scenario at this point is that they keep the loss to single digits. Iowa by 10.