Minnesota Golden Gophers
Current record: 11-3 (0-2)
Current RPI: 40 (IU is #197)
Current Sagarin: 44 (IU is #122)
Current Pomeroy: 58 (IU is #74)
2009-10 record: 18-12 (9-9), lost to Xavier in first round of NCAA Tournament
2009-10 RPI: 62
2009-10 Sagarin: 43
2009-10 Pomeroy: 32
Series: IU leads 89-67
Last Minnesota win: 2/20/2010 (63-54 in Minneapolis)
Last IU win: 1/17/2010 (81-78 (OT) in Bloomington)
Last IU win in Minneapolis: 1/17/2008 (65-60)
Pomeroy scouting report
TV: 7 p.m. tonight, ESPN2
After an 0-2 Big Ten start at home, IU begins a two-game road swing with a trip to Minnesota tonight. (IU plays at Northwestern on Sunday). The Gophers also are 0-2, with road losses to Wisconsin and Michigan State. For some reason, Ken Pomeroy's computers hate Minnesota. Despite solid non-conference wins against North Carolina and West Virginia, Pom projects the Gophers to finish 7-11 in the conference. According to Pomeroy's projections, other than trips to Iowa and Michigan, this is IU's best chance for a road win. Of course, even in the best of seasons, a trip to the Barn aren't particularly fruitful for IU. The Hoosiers have won in Minneapolis only twice in eleven trips there since 1996. IU even managed to go 1-5 up there against Dan Monson and Jim Molinari. If it sounds as if I'm not brimming with optimism about this game, you are correct.
The Gophers play a relatively fast pace, (69 possessions per game) and are solid on both sides of the ball. They are not a team that is heavily weighted toward offense or defense, at least not at this point. Based on Pomeroy's tempo-free numbers, Minnesota's strengths are offensive rebounding (39.6 percent, #13 nationally), and at getting to the line, at blocking shots, and interior defense (limiting their opponents to 41.3 percent from inside). The Gophers main weaknesses are in shooting free throws and three point defense.
All of their strengths and weaknesses are consistent with the fact that Minnesota is a very tall team. Three of the Gophers top five scorers who will play tonight are 6-10 or 6-11 (Trevor Mbakwe, Ralph Sampson III, and Colton Iverson). Blake Hoffarber leads the Balanced Minnesota attach with 13.6 points per game and is shooting 39 percent from three point range. Devoe Joseph, who was averaging 11.3 points per game and was shooting 38.1 percent from behind the arc, is "out indefinitely," and the Pioneer Press is reporting that he intends to transfer. That leave Hoffarbar as Minnesota's only three point threat who sees meaningful playing time, although Austin Hollins and Maurice Walker shoot well from the perimeter in limited action.
Here are Minnesota's statistics:
|Ralph Sampson III||14||26.2||4.1||8.6||47.1||0.2||0.8||27.3||3.0||4.4||68.9||2.0||3.9||5.9||1.4||1.4||0.5||2.0||2.9||11.4|
Am I crazy for thinking that IU should consider going small? Sure, if we trotted out a lineup of Watford, Oladipo, Jones, Rivers, and Hulls, it would be an interior defense nightmare. On the other hand, if we go big trot out Pritchard, Elston, Watford, Oladipo, and Hulls, it will be...an interior defense nightmare! If we trot out our most common lineup of Watford, Elston, Creek, Jones, and Hulls, it will be...and interior defense nightmare! The lineup that I propose at least would have a chance of a good night from three point range, and could provide defensive problems for the Gophers' preferred lineup. I'm sure Tom Crean is hanging on my every word, of course. We'll see how it plays out. This will be a tough game, but now that IU has dropped three winnable games, the Hoosiers need to pick up a long shot or two to offset those losses if they have any hope of reaching the postseason.