Record: 7-1 (0-0)
KenPom Rank: 61
On paper, this is one of our best chances to get a Big Ten win. These two Big Ten teams have each played a very weak non-conference schedule. Both have non-conference strength of schedules that are among the worst in the country.
Can the Gophers take down Fred Hoiberg’s Cornhuskers?
KEYS TO A GOPHER WIN
Team Defense! - Nebraska has 4 kids who are averaging 13.5 or more and all four are capable of going off for 20. This isn’t a game where you can focus on one key guy. I do have slight facial ticks when I recall Keisei Tominaga putting up 23 on the Gophers in the Big Ten Tournament last year. But also the Dutch big man, Rienk Mast is a double-double machine who could give our big guys real problems.
Win at rebounding - I know that I’m sounding super basic here when I say we need to play good defense and now we need rebound in order to have a good chance at winning. Duh, right? I mean these are keys for my daughter’s 5th-grade girls team that I’m coaching (0-1, tyvm). But looking at the stats, this is really important. Both teams are pretty good at hitting the offensive glass, so the team that controls that to a greater degree should have an advantage.
Play with toughness - Don’t go long stretches of getting worked by Nebraska, play tough, play strong and win this game with some attitude. Would absolutely love to see a determined and tough team for 40 minutes.
I REALLY want to pick the Gophers, just because I REALLY want them to win. And like I said, this may be our best chance till February. But the balanced nature of Nebraska and Minnesota’s inconsistent play on both ends is leading me to predict a Nebraska win.
I do think one of their guards gets very hot from deep and Pharrel Payne gets in foul trouble.
Minnesota - 72
Nebraska - 77