Mascot: Goldie the Gopher
Last time out: Lost to Ohio St
Conference Record: 0-1
Typical Rotation Depth: 9+
Line: Nebraska by 3
Tempo: B1G Fast
Style: Pound it in the paint
Kent-Phrase: "Jackwagon". Last year in the Barn in a close game Richard Pitino threw a tantrum that led to Kent uttering the phrase "Richard Pitino is a Jackwagon" Pitino was hit with a technical that took the crowd out of the game and Nebraska won by 6
Player to watch: Jordan Murphy
The walking double-double is getting to the FT line at an incredible 88.6% FT rate (62 FTA / 70 shot attempts). On the flip side if you can get Murphy in foul trouble this is a team that struggles to score 60 points without him playing 30+ minutes
KenPom Helps explain the Roster
- Minnesota has a well defined starting lineup with a couple of freshmen starters. A lot of length in that starting lineup and the roster
- Talented Amir Coffey is Minny's 2nd leading scorer though is struggling with his shot this year; is also getting to the FT line
- Dupree McBrayer is the starting PG in name only and is shooting like Jr year McBrayer, not Soph year (this isn't good)
- 5 star center Daniel Oturu is raw offensively but can run the court and protect the rim
- Minny native Gabe Kalscheur is your classic statue 3pt shooter and he's been on-fire hitting 53.5% this season from 3
- PG of the future Isaiah Washington is coming off the bench and while he sets up his teammates well has really struggled with his shot
- Senior 7'0" center transfer Matz Stockman from Louisville (THANKS DAD) has been a pleasant surprise as a backup rim protector after almost never playing at Louisville
- 6-6 Jarvis Omersa (guy with the yellow hair) and 6-7 Michael Hurt (Guy that looks younger than Roby) provide depth but not usually much production
- Milwaukee grad transfer guard Brock Stull is barely in the rotation and has 6 shot attempts this year
- 6'9" Eric Curry probably would be your starting center over Oturu but the oft injured post is still a few weeks away after missing all of last year
The Skinny: This seems like a make or break year for young Richard Pitino as while he's taken Tubby's guys to a NIT championship and finally won a NCAA tourney game as a 5 seed he's also had a couple of turd seasons with rosters plagued by injury and suspension. At this point the Gophers look like a fringe NCAA tourney team with 2 neutral court wins and a talented roster with a key member set to return shortly. Pitino probably is ok this year and is back again but as Sunday's beat down in Columbus shows you this is a buzzsaw type B1G conference with few gimmes.
Minnesota offensively looks like the 13-14 tourney Huskers where that needed to augment their offense with FTs or else they struggle to crack 70. The Huskers have been giving up some easy looks inside at the expense of protecting the 3pt line but a switch in strategy against a team currently with only one reliable outside shooter might be in the cards. Last year Nebraska threw double teams at the Gophers and we should see some zone. The biggest problem with this team seems to be the lack of replacement for graduated PG Nate Mason which only compounds the spacing issues of a team often plays two traditional bigs.
It's probable Nebraska can throttle yet another team defensively so the question that we'll often try to answer on the road in this conference is 'Will we find enough offense?' The name Pitino makes you think of pressure and steals but that's not what this team does. The Gophers are solid with all that length but they deploy a fairly pedestrian defense put often aren't disciplined and they will put you on the line. A patient offense that doesn't feed the Gopher transition game will get the job done here.
We won up here last year and it was difficult against a struggling Gopher squad. A team like Michigan who has been killing anyone almost lost in Evansville last night so this is no gimmie. Road games are tough, that's why they're valued more by the tourney committee. Look for this Husker team to find a way.
Prediction: Nebraska 72 - Minnesota 67