Who: Minnesota (19-6) at MichiganÂ (16-10)
Where: Crisler Arena, Ann Arbor, MI
When: Thursday, Feb 19th, 7 PM ET
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.
- 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.
- 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),Â 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):
- Lee’s defense cuts Grady’s minutes at U-M
A few quotes from Beilein on Grady
- Lineup is up in the air as Smith contemplates changes
We aren’t the only team playing with their lineup