Minnesota Golden Gophers
Current record: 12-3
Big Ten record: 2-1
Current RPI: 53
Current Sagarin: 33
2006-07 record: 9-22
2006-07 RPI: 191
2006-07 Sagarin: 167
Series: IU leads 86-63
Last IU win: 2/21/07 (71-59 in Bloomington)
Last Minnesota win: 1/29/06 (61-42 in Minneapolis)
Last IU win in Minneapolis: 1/24/04 (86-81 in overtime)
TV: 9:00 pm tonight, ESPN
Lighting round on this one. I put some of my thoughts in the Q&A with PJS, seen below and on the other site. My inclination that the Hoosiers are going to lose this game is based purely on hunch, not any sort of analysis. It's the pessimism bred by 15 years of never winning an outright Big Ten title and losing nearly every meaningful conference road game. I am hopeful that we can change that tonight.
I suppose it's at least worth noting that this would be the Gophers' best win of the season, by far. To date, the Gophers are 0-3 against the RPI top 100. All of the schedule strength ratings have Minnesota below IU. Nevertheless, the Gophers' tempo-free numbers are very good: #47 in offensive efficiency, #20 in defensive efficiency, #64 in offensive rebounding, top 80 in both shooting categories, #21 in assist ratio. The Gophers are only so-so at taking care of the ball, with a 21 percent turnover percentage (#137), but their opponents turn the ball over 27 percent of the time, #4 nationally. The Gophers also post top 20 totals in steal percentage and block percentage.
A big concern is that the Hoosiers, while still above average, have been worse on turnovers than in nearly any other offensive category, while Minnesota forces lots of turnovers. IU hasn't been a great defensive rebounding team, but Minnesota rebounds very well offensively. Statistically, both teams have been dominant against less-than-punishing schedules.
Many of the Gophers' names will sound familiar. The team's top three players, Dan Coleman, Lawrence McKenzie, and Spencer Tollackson, are all seniors. Watch out for freshman Blake Hoffarber, who is 40-81 from three point range. Dan Coleman and Damian Johnson look to be dominant shot-blockers.
I have expressed my pessimism, but I hope I'm wrong. As all of the Minnesota blogs have noted, Minnesota has won 8 of its last 10 home games in this series. Here's a depressing statistic that illustrates just how far the IU administration allowed the program to fall: Clem Haskins resigned in shame in 1999. After probation and rebuilding, the Gophers have made only one NCAA Tournament appearance. IU's record against Minnesota from 2000 to present? 6-7.