Game 27: Minnesota at Michigan Preview

Dylan Burkhardt
on

Basics:
Who
: Minnesota (19-6) at Michigan  (16-10)
Where
: Crisler Arena, Ann Arbor, MI
When: Thursday, Feb 19th, 7 PM ET
TV: BTN
Spread
: Michigan by 3.5
Preview: Stat Sheet, U-M KenPom Profile, Minnesota KenPom Profile
Radio
: MGoBlue, WWJ-AM (950), WTKA-AM (1050)
Opposition Blog:
From The Barn

Just a quick preview for today but for more on Minnesota be sure to check out my interview with Jonathan Foster of From The Barn who breaks down the ups and downs of their season. This is a battle of two Big Ten bubble teams that both need a win to revitalize some momentum down the stretch. Both fan bases have been tormented by some disappointing seasons of late and are hopeful but not necessarily optimistic about their tournament chances.

Strengths

  • Defense. Minnesota has a top 50 overall defense and they limit their opponents to an eFG% of 46.3%
  • Forcing Turnovers. Minnesota is second in the Big Ten (behind Northwestern) in terms of forcing turnovers. They do a great job blocking shots and forcing steals. Their steal percentage ranks 7th nationally while their block percentage ranks first.
  • Offensive Rebounding. This is the best dimension of an otherwise pretty mediocre Minnesota offense.

Weaknesses

  • Turnovers. The Gophers turn the ball over on 21.6% of their possessions, worse than everyone in the conference but Indiana.
  • Defensive Rebounding. The Gophers give up a surprising number of offensive rebounds, their opponents have rebounded 35.2% of their missed shots. To put that in perspective, they give up more offensive rebounds than Michigan.
  • Shooting. Minnesota’s eFG% of 50.7% ranks 9th in the Big Ten and is ahead of only Michigan and Indiana.

This is a battle of two teams who are really struggling on the offensive end lately and it might be ugly, for our sake let’s hope its not as ugly as Penn State’s 38-33 win last night over Illinois.

Minnesota has a lot of guys on the offensive end who can step up, but no one who is a consistent threat. Freshman Devoe Joseph, a former Michigan recruit, hit 7 out of 8 threes at Penn State and has been stepping up his game lately. Lawrence Westbrook leads the team in scoring with over 12 points per game but he is the only guy that averages double figures on the entire roster. Al Nolen leads the team in minutes and assists but is shooting just over 35% from the field.

This is one of those that you just have to find a way to gut out at home. I think it is similar to Michigan State game where every point is going to be earned. Michigan has to do a respectable job on the glass and keep up the defensive intensity that they have played with of late. I would expect to see some zone looks from Michigan because Minnesota has struggled against Northwestern’s 1-3-1 (which is better than ours) so that is worth a try. Minnesota has the size to give Michigan fits but they have so many different options it is hard to tell just who is going to step up.

Bubble News. Penn State’s win was huge, but they still need to get to 11-7 or at least 10-8 in my opinion to deserve a bid. Northwestern’s win seems like a good thing to me, they are going to give everyone a fight down the stretch. There was plenty of other good bubble news across the country including losses by Miami, Providence, Virginia Tech, Davidson, and Notre Dame

With Penn State’s win the RPI situation is getting interesting down the stretch, here are the “bubble” teams in the Big Ten ranked by RPI: Wisconsin (27), Minnesota (35), OSU (37),  Michigan (52), Penn State (59), Northwestern (78). Michigan has four games remaining against top 50 teams as well as a road game against a top 100 team. If they can manage to win three of them then their RPI would almost assuredly see a nice bounce.

Tickets are still available so if you are a student that just finished your midterms, make your way out to Crisler (free with M-card) and if you are in the area go buy tickets for $10 at the door. Pomeroy has Michigan in a 65-63 nailbiter and Vegas picks Michigan by 3 and a half. Let’s hear your thoughts, predictions, additionally commentary in the comments.

Pre-Game Reading (updated throughout the day):

  • Kevin in GR

    It sure is strange how shooting the 3 seems contagious for this team! Looking good tonight!

  • Dylan

    Kelvin didn’t do much to earn his pt back there… Big finish to the half though. 40-25 and we are shooting the lights out. Gotta keep it up.

  • WHATAP

    Would not want to be in Al Rokers lockerroom right now!

  • http://Detroitsportsrag.com GBMDC02

    I will take a 15 pt lead over a potential tournament team whenever I can get it…Grady looks much better tonight than the last few games. The behind the back pass was idiotic, though.

  • Avery Queen

    maybe the first time both stu and novak have been hot in the same game. and not to take away from us but minnesota looks not good.

  • Dylan

    Thanks maiZenblue. Meant 2 on 1. Typing on my phone. Speaking of the 1-3-1, it looks good and Minnesota really looks uncomfortable against it.

  • BJ

    Is this the first game Zack and Stu both have multiple threes? We may finally be getting that game where they’re both hot.

  • Drew

    Kevin in GR…. as bad as the announcers on BTN usually are, we can NEVER complain when Gus Johnson calls one of our games. I honestly believe he’s one of the best in the game. Wait till you hear him calling tournament games this March and I hope you’ll take back that comment. Now if it was directed toward Jimmy I’d understand, because he’s pretty bland.

  • WHATAP

    I am a bit dissapointed in the crowd however. Its weird to see Assembly Hall in Indiana filled for every home game for a team predestined to lose a boatload of games. Anyone agree, disagree?

  • Dylan

    If you want a quick explanation for iu’s crowds it is the fact that they are iu. The big house was full this year and we were 3-9….

  • Kevin in GR

    Dre: Yes, I was referring to “TO$U” grad Jimmy Jackson! Gus Johnson is good :) Also….I was referring to BTN announcers in general too….there are some good one’s though!
    Sorry….I should have clarified.

  • The Oracle

    We better keep in mind how far this is from over. People saw the Wisconsin game I’m sure.

  • WHATAP

    Dylan, do you think UM fans will ever truly embrace UM hoops? Maybe if we go undefeated?

  • Drew

    its all good.. ha

    Let’s keep this up in the second half.

  • AG2

    I’m looking to see Michigan keep up the defensive intensity in the 2nd half, and hopefully ride the freethrow line to victory over an RPI Top 50 team.

  • MaizeNBlue2

    And it’s gone again. I give up.

  • http://Detroitsportsrag.com GBMDC02

    OT: Did anyone just see Barkley on TNT during halftime? HOLY CRAP!

  • Avery Queen

    man come on. somebody stop westbrook.

  • AG2

    Wow, the refs missed an intentional foul. Unless the refs think Minnesota mistook Sims’ foot for the ball.

  • Kevin in GR

    What did Chuck B do or say now? I assume most people here are just watching the M game!

  • Avery Queen

    we are seriously the worst alley oop team i’ve ever watched

  • WHATAP

    We must not practice many fastbreak drills. :(

  • Kevin in GR

    “Bada bing, Bada Boom”? C’mon Gus! :)

  • MaizeNBlue2

    If we play like this the rest of the year, we’re going to make the tournament. That’s for sure.

  • Avery Queen

    agreed. wouldn’t hurt if this is the demise of minnesota too.

  • Adam

    Funny what home court can do for a team. Also what playing on the road can do to another team.

  • WHATAP

    Our man to man still needs to get tougher.

  • WHATAP

    Thats what we have to look forward to with Grady! Adam you should like that one

  • Dylan

    Ray McCallum and his dcd crew are here, including amir I believe.

  • WHATAP

    Im sorry but Grady has to play more. At least more than Merritt.

  • AG2

    Its nice to know that even as sloppy as they’ve played down the stretch that they still have their entire first half lead.

  • Kevin in GR

    KG for THREEEEEEEEEEEEE! Gotta be impressed with him tonight after sitting the bench the last few games. Pride of EGR! :)

  • Kevin in GR

    What’s encouraging about this game is that Manny really hasn’t done much…..A LOT of guys stepped up!

  • aaron

    great, much needed win. good to see some others really step up. only problem i had was we seemed pretty flat footed in the second half giving up alot of drives for points

  • AG2

    In other news, nothing would give me more satisfaction than watching Wisconsin lose to IU.

  • http://umhoops.com Go Blue

    Grady!!!!!! Merritt should never play a minute ahead of KG. Lets see here, Broke the press effortlessly, made 3 3s, had some nice PENETRATION(its not a myth) and some good dishes.

  • JimC

    Wow some accurate predictions above, from Raiderfan, JayRich, etc.
    Great win for M!

  • http://umhoops.com Go Blue

    Dylan, after Gradys play tonight will you now agree he can penetrate and score? Or would you have liked to see more Merritt?

  • AJ

    Great game; bad officiating

  • BJ

    Grady definitely came through for all of his supporters hear at umhoops.

    IU giving the Badgers all they can handle…keeping my fingers crossed.

  • Giddings

    So what did Charles Barkley do??

  • steve

    Beautiful, love everyones EFFORT tonight. Yes, they were hitting shots, but I felt like they all had the intensity that we’ve been missing in some of their losses. Grady played well, still a few break downs, that behind the back pass is unacceptable, but he made up for it. No reason merrit should play over him from here on out. Dylan, can you or anyone else find out if this was the first game Stu and Zack hit multiple 3’s. This is how they should play every game, when we are hitting 3’s we can beat anyone in the country. Lets hope Illinois finishes strong, and we can get a W against Purdue. If that happens I love our chances. Also-thought Puls should have got a few minutes in there at least get him a touch or 2, he can’t be that bad. And maybe the difference was Grady with no headband? Go blue!

  • steve

    Also, i dont know how McCallum is feeling considering were pulling in D. Morris next year?

  • http://Detroitsportsrag.com GBMDC02

    Barkley started crying and talking about loyalty. Look it up on youtube, probably will be up there later tonight.

  • Kevin

    I was shocked to find out that other than this game, the Norfolk St. game was the only other one in which Zach and Stu both hit a three (2 each). I seem to remember games in which they’ve both played pretty well, but I guess not too well (at least three point shooting). Going into tonight, they had each taken 108 threes with Stu hitting one more (36). As of now, both of their game highs is six. Zach tonight, Stu against UCONN.

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