When? Friday, February 9 at 7:30 p.m. EST – FS1
Where? Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, Bloomington, Indiana
Vegas? Indiana (-6.5)
Pomeroy? Indiana 75-71, 66% chance of Indiana victory
After a brutal stretch of seven games in seventeen days including three teams in the top 20, IU has finally gotten a chance to catch their breath. The Hoosiers are coming off of their best game of the season after a weirdly scheduled non-conference game against Rutger.
On the flipside, Minnesota is struggling to find a light at the end of the tunnel. Heading into last months match against the Hoosiers the Golden Gophers were sitting pretty with a 13-3 record and sights set on an NCAA appearance. Roughly a month later and this team has fallen flat on their face.
The Gophers are on an abysmal skid, having lost nine of their last 10 since that Indiana game on January 6. Minnesota’s only win has come from a home OT victory against Pennsylvania State in that ten game stretch.
So what can we expect from this NIT play-in game?
|-||eFG%||TO%||Off. Reb %||FT Rate|
|-||eFG%||TO%||Off. Reb %||FT Rate|
|INDIANA (#106 adj. offense)||50.1 (199th)||17.8 (116th)||32.6 (67th)||36.2 (106th)|
|MINNESOTA (#148 adj. defense)||49.2 (92nd)||16.6 (284th)||30.0 (203rd)||21.3 (12th)|
|MINNESOTA (#63 adj. offense||49.7 (215th)||15.3 (18th)||31.3 (103rd)||36.3 (103rd)|
|INDIANA (#72 adj. defense)||50.9 (190th)||19.7 (113th)||28.7 (168th)||32.0 (149th)|
Looking at the four factors alone, this matchup favors the Hoosiers pretty well.
The two main areas of the game that Minnesota excels at is a low offensive turnover rate (No. 18 nationally on KenPom) and not allowing their opponent to get to the free throw line (No. 31 for KenPom defensive FTA/FGA). At this point, I think Hoosier fans would be pleased to hear that they don’t have to take free throws at this point.
Besides that, Minnesota has a very solid block rate (No. 17 on KenPom) which is impressive considering the in-game line up usually tops off with a 6’8” Davonte Fitzgerald at power forward.
As for the individuals on this roster, there isn’t anything major to watch out for. Junior Jordan Murphy ranks in the top 100 for offensive rebounding percentage (No. 18 Kenpom) and defensive (No. 62). With Indiana being a solid offensive rebounding team (No. 67 nationally) be sure to track how many second-chance points the Cream and Crimson will get tonight.
Normally I’d write a bit more in this section but nothing is really wowing me about this Minnesota team. Looking at their stats nothing jumps out to what Indiana can exploit because most of the stats range in a marginally sub-par area.
The stats really tell the story of how this team is struggling. Minnesota does NOT rank in the KenPom top 200 as a team for 2-point FG % (No. 238), free throw % (No. 210), effective FG % (No. 215) and defensive 3PT% (No. 247).
Either way, here is how Indiana can come away undefeated this calendar week.
Three Things To Watch For:
- OG BOBBY JOHNSON: It has been no secret that the senior guard has shown his struggle in recent games, however it seems as though we might be on the front end of a Rojo Renaissance. On Monday Johnson put up a solid 19 points and shot a nice 3-6 from downtown. With Minnesota struggling to defend the perimeter, Robert Johnson is in a good position to light it up on Friday night. To add to that, guess who was KenPom’s MVP for the last time these teams faced off? It was Robert himself, with an astounding 28 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals, and a block.
- MORGAN & MORGAN: Juwan Morgan is good at basketball. He has proven time and again of how he deserves a first team all-conference nod and tonight I expect no different. In Minnesota’s three most frequent lineups over the past five games, the tallest player on the floor has been Davonte Fitzgerald and Amir Coffey, both capping off at 6’8”. Morgan has handled tougher on the low post so far this season, expect the same grit out of the junior this evening. Also, here’s a wonderful youtube video.
- Call 911 we’ve been McRobbed: When breaking down the few strengths that Minnesota offers, one of them is the ability to not turn the ball over on offense. With that said I would expect a quiet game out of Zach Mcroberts, who sits in the top 20 nationally for steal percentage. Which means that when Zach does get a steal here or there throughout the game, don’t take it for granted like in games past.