Thursday, 8:00 PM
The Wolverines started the season 3-0, including a nice 16-point win at Rick Pitino’s St. Johns club. But since that start, Michigan has gone 3-7 with losses to Dan Monson’s Long Beach State and WIll Wade’s McNeese State Cowboys to end 2023. They are struggling and looking to get things back on track with a home game against the Gophers, can Minnesota get another Big Ten win over this talented team that’s a bit of a mess?
KenPom Rank: 62
Juan Howard uses a 7-man rotation that features two dynamic scorers in Dug McDaniel and Olivier Nkamhoua who combine for over 36 points per game.
KEYS TO A GOPHER WIN
Find ways to score - Michigan is the worst defensive team in the conference. Currently ranked 141st in the country in defensive efficiency which is worse than Iowa at 136 and Penn State’s 119. No other Big Ten team is outside of the top 100 (the Gophers barely slide under that mark at 95th). The point is, this team is not defending particularly well and this is a chance for the Gopher offense to score points. There should be plenty of opportunities to knock down open threes.
Crash the boards - Michigan is also terrible at defensive rebounding, while Minnesota has been very active on the offensive glass. This feels like a golden opportunity to get some extra shots and easy baskets if Josh Ola-Joseph and Pharrel Payne can be aggressive on the offensive side.
Stop Dug McDaniel - Sure, the 19 ppg and 39% from three are easy stats to pick out but don’t forget that McDaniel also has 5 assists per game and over 4 rebounds. I’m not sure that our point guards are going to be great at defending him, but I’d like to be proven wrong here.
I’m starting to gain confidence in this Gopher squad. The stretch of the season between the second half of the Missouri game and the first half of the Ohio State loss was not pretty. But they’ve been playing much better lately. I’m starting to believe again and we might be catching Michigan on the road at the perfect time.
But I’m going to play this one with cautious optimism and still predict a Michigan win. I predict that we struggle to contain McDaniel and Will Tschetter will hit double-digits to provide a little emotional lift for the Wolverines. It’ll be close, but Michigan wins.
Minnesota - 73