It has been a rough stretch for Gopher basketball over their last 8 games where they have gone 2-6 and in the process have lost a couple starters to injury. Gabe Kalscheur, the team’s best perimeter defender, is out for a few more weeks and Liam Robins, the team’s best interior defender, is hobbled by an ankle injury that hasn’t kept him out of any games, but he’s not nearly the same.
But it could be worse, we could be Northwestern. The Wildcats started the Big Ten season 3-0 beating Michigan State, Indiana and Ohio State. Then everything collapsed on Northwestern. We’ve had a bad February. They’ve had a really bad 2021. Since that 3-0 start, they have lost 12 consecutive games.
Is this their best chance at a win since December? It might be. But here is what Minnesota has to do to get a win.
KEYS TO A GOPHER WIN
Find more scoring - Robbins is possibly available, but he’s been slowed dramatically (and hasn’t practiced all week). I expect Marcus Carr will do the things he normally does at home. But someone else will need to be a factor. Possibly Jamal Mashburn? Possibly Mash AND someone else?
Defensive Rebounding - This has steadily become more and more of a weakness of this team. Northwestern struggles, do NOT give them extra possessions and more opportunities to score. Thankfully, Northwestern ranks 335th in the country in offensive rebounding, let’s keep things this way.
Stay healthy - Perhaps not a key to actually winning tonight, but a key to winning the rest of the season. Ideally, Robbins is getting healthier, but I hope nothing gets aggravated tonight. Or worse, someone else gets injured. Let’s stay healthy and get a win.
I think Northwestern is just that bad. Easily the worst team we have faced since early December. We are down 1.5 guys, but if you want to make the Tourney this is a game you need to win.
And I think the Gophers not only find a way, but they get on a run that crushes the souls of Northwestern and they win fairly comfortably.
Minnesota - 72
Northwestern - 60