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The Minnesota game.

Minnesota Golden Gophers
Current record: 16-3 (4-3)
Current RPI: 30
Current Sagarin: 36
Current Pomeroy: 49
2007-08 record: 20-14 (8-10), lost to Maryland in first round of NIT
2007-08 RPI: 98
2007-08 Sagarin: 78
2007-08 Pomeroy: 61
Series: IU leads 88-64
Last Minnesota win: 3/14/2008 (59-58 in BTT quarterfinals, Indianapolis)
Last IU win: 3/5/2008 (69-55 in Bloomington)
Last Minnesota win in Bloomington: 2/18/2004 (74-71)
Pomeroy scouting report
TV: noon Sunday, BTN

There was a time (well, as recently as last year) that I really dreaded these bye weeks, but I have to admit that the last week has been a relief. IU resumes Big Ten play at noon on Sunday against Minnesota, currently ranked #18 in the AP poll but having lost at Northwestern and at home to Purdue. I don't particularly relish the idea of playing a desperate Minnesota team. The Gophers, if they wish to remain in the Big Ten title hunt, cannot lose to IU.

The Gophers are in a great position to return to the NCAA Tournament, thanks to a 12-0 non-conference schedule, including a signature win over Louisville. The Gophers rank in the top 70 in both offensive and defensive efficiency, thanks mostly to strong shooting and offensive rebounding. The Gophers don't take particularly good care of the ball: they have a turnover percentage of 21.1 (#195) and steal percentage of 11.2 (#277). On the defensive end, the Gophers play good field goal defense, especially inside the arc, but do not rebound well. Particularly bad news for the Hoosiers: Minnesota leads the nation in shot block percentage, refunding an incredible 20.5 percent of opponents' field goal attempts. IU, of course, ranks #342 nationally with 14.4 percent of its attempts blocked. What's the over under on shot clock violations? The Gophers also are among the nation's leaders in forcing turnovers (23.9%, #34) and steals (13.9%, #7). To a significant degree, IU's worst stats are in Minnesota's best categories. Still, the Gopher defense has shown some vulnerability in the last two losses to Northwestern and Purdue. Northwestern shot 9-21 from behind the arc and Purdue was 6-11 last night.

Lawrence Westbrook is Minnesota's only doubvle-figure scorer at 13.9 points per game. Damien Johnson, Al Nolen, and Blake Hoffarber also contribute. Hoffarber is the Gophers' best three point shooter, and IU fans will remember him for the disappointing but probably merciful game-winner that he hit against IU in last season's Big Ten Tournament.

For all of IU's flaws, the Hoosiers have been mostly competitive in both conference home games, the excruciating loss to Michigan and last weekend's loss to Penn State. Minnesota needs a win, but IU can at least hope that the Gopher's poor play continues.