Head Coach: Richard Pitino
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Nickname: Golden Gophers
Mascot: Goldie the Gopher
Last time out: Beat Wisconsin
Typical Rotation Depth: 8+
Line: Minnesota by 7.5
Tempo: B1G Fast
Style: High assist, low 3pt attempts
4 Factors Good: Winning the foul game, not turning the ball over, shot defense
4 Factors Bad: Not a great shooting team
|Off. Reb. %:||29.7||29.5||29.3|
Most Frequently Used Lineup over the last 5 games
Nate Mason and Amir Coffey rarely leave the court.
Miles was pretty loose in this one. I think getting out of town + seeing a bunch of family up in the Barn could be part of that.
Miles noted that the team "didn't look great" this last weekend but had good practices this week. He also noted that Tai is beat up and they're trying to dial back his minutes as much as they can.
Morrow noted that he liked playing with Jordy because he takes some of the pressure off because he doesn't have to be the biggest dude on the court. If either of them can develop a consistent mid-range shot next year that's a pretty good tandem.
Player to watch: Nate Mason
The Senior PG is the key to this whole thing as Mason can consistently get his own shot or to the line. When you help, he's killing you via the pass. While shooting 39% from 3 over the year, that number has dipped to 34% in conference play. His mid range game, like many of the Gophers, is not great. The inclination is to put Watson on Mason in a matchup of size and quickness. However, if your goal is to turn Nate Mason into a drive to nowhere player might it make sense to put a taller Tai Webster or Evan Taylor on him?
Minnesota bottomed out last year with 8 wins but Richard Pitino bounced back thanks to locking down a stellar recruiting class in addition to adding 3pt shooting grad transfer Akeem Springs (Note: Don't let him shoot from the left corner) and shot blocker extraordinaire Reggie Lynch. The Golden Gophers are a lock for their first tourney bid since 2013 and potentially their highest seed of this century. (8 seed in 2005). They have a big game coming up in Wisconsin. How much ahead are they looking to that?
Minnesota success is fueled by its lengthy and athletic defenders which allows them to simultaneously protect the paint with elite shot blocking while also shutting down the 3pt line as well as anyone in the country. Their MO is stifling your offense as opposed to pressuring into turnovers. Scoring enough points is going to be a challenge against a team capable of holding the Huskers under 60. How much do the Huskers want to get into the lane and challenge Minnesota straight on?
The Golden Gophers aren't the best shooting team but augment their offense with easy baskets through their transition game. Not yet mentioned is dynamic freshman Amir Coffey who can light it up from anywhere (shooting 40% from 3 in conference) and undersized PF Jordan Murphy. Minnesota has lots of options but they're very capable of poor shot selection if you can defend the pick and roll.
On one hand, this is a NCAA tournament team playing on its home court and more than capable of negating the advantages typically enjoyed by Nebraska in the offensive rebounding and steals area. On the flip side, this isn't a team geared to exploit that pesky 3pt defense problem.
What is Glynn Watson going to do this game? It will be nearly impossible for Nebraska to win without him having a good game and it has been tough on the sophomore when teams start to key on him. What kind of game does he have tonight?
You can see some of the paths that can lead to a Nebraska upset but also some paths that lead to a Minnesota blowout. I think a refocused squad plays a lot tougher than this weekend but comes up short on the road tonight.
Prediction: Minnesota 75 - Nebraska 67