Game 24: Michigan at Minnesota Preview

Dylan Burkhardt


Who: Michigan (11-12, 4-7) vs. Minnesota (14-8, 5-5)
Where: Williams Arena, Minneapolis, MN
When: 7PM February 11th
: MGoBlue, WWJ 950 AM/WTKA 1050 AM
: Minnesota by 8.5
Stats: Live TFS
Pomeroy Profile
Interview Preview

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Michigan is projected as a number one seed in the CBI. That tells you just about everything there is to know about this season. Expectations at this point are gone, Michigan is playing for pride from here out.

A year ago Michigan got one of their biggest and most unexpected wins at the Barn. As we know all too well, the wheels have fallen off since last March. Sitting at 11-12, losers of 5 of their last 6, Michigan is tumbling for rock bottom.

Things aren’t much better for Tubby Smith’s Golden Gophers. Prized recruits Trevor Mbakwe and Royce White never made it onto the court. Starting point guard Al Nolen is out for the second semester with academic problems. Minnesota is just 14-8 (5-5) and looking to figure a way to play themselves into the tournament. Disappointing for a team that was thought to have a chance to contend in the Big Ten this year.

It’s tough to know what to expect when two slumping teams meet but if following Big Ten basketball has taught me one thing it is always pick the home team.

Minnesota is better statistically than their record shows, especially on the defensive end. The Gophers force turnovers on 25% of their opponents possessions and allow them to shoot only 43% on two point field goals. Minnesota ranks in the top 10 in block% and steal% as well. Their one “weakness” tends to be the three point shot (allow 34.1%) but who are we kidding, Michigan can’t hit the three.

Offensively the Gophers aren’t quite as proficient but they can get by. They shoot the ball well (53.5 eFG%) and hold onto it (18.9% TO) but they don’t crash the offensive glass or get to the line. Minnesota shoots a high percentage on three point attempts (38.%) but they only attempt threes on 31% of their field goal attempts.

westbrookMinnesota entered the season with a ridiculously deep roster and even though they have taken a few hits, they still have plenty of talent.

  • Senior guard Lawrence Westbrook is a scorer with a knack for hitting big shots.
  • 6-foot-7 wing forward Damian Johnson is one of the best defenders in the country and will almost assuredly draw the Manny Harris match-up.
  • Colton Iverson and Ralph Sampson III give Minnesota a pair of big bodies down low. Neither are particularly efficient offensive players but they are both good defenders and rebounders.
  • Freshman Rodney Williams is one of the most athletic players in the conference but he has struggled to put everything together on a consistent basis.

Pomeroy likes the Gophers by 9 and gives them an 82% chance at victory. Vegas likes Minnesota by 8 and a half. I have a tough time seeing Michigan keeping it in single digits, even against a Minnesota team that is trying to find themselves. Let’s hear your thoughts, predictions, and more in the comments.

P.S.: Tim Hardaway Jr.’s Palmetto team picked up a nice district win over Charles Hankerson’s (Alabama) Coral Reef squad last night. Here’s a video interview with Hardaway previewing the game.

  • Jeff

    I just need to say this. It will probably be quickly forgotten because we won, but that was a horribly biased game by the officials. For crying out loud, Bobby Knight was talking about the inconsistent officiating. Announcers never do that. When we had the ball, they were doing the usual B10 treat it like a football game thing, but when they had the ball they were calling everything, real or imaginary. Big Ten officiating is terrible. They allow play to be way too physical, which is one of the reasons why the Big Ten has a reputation for ugly basketball, and they almost always favor the home team, sometimes to a huge degree. End of rant.

  • Alex

    Should woulda coulda. We’ve got to forget what could have been and move forward with the team wherever it leads.

  • jk

    We should beat Iowa then Penn St. (Although you never know) that would put us at what, 7-7 in the Big Ten, 14-12 overall? I’m not giving up. After every win I think of some way we could by some miracle wind up in the tourney. It’s a very slim shot that we will end up 17-13 or 18-12 and make it and a slim one we will win the BT tourney, but why would they keep playing if it was a done deal? They looked good tonight. Looks like they solved their Point Guard issue, Darius looked good tonight.

  • Giddings

    Jeff, that’s life on the road. Amazing that we were able to beat both Minnesota and the refs. I do agree that the “ugly” perception of Big Ten basketball is partly due to officiating, although I think a lot of it is the presence of coaches like Bo Ryan and Bill Carmody who seem to preach running the shot clock down to 5 seconds every trip.

    Aside from the defensive lapses on Hoffarber, Manny was a baller tonight. I had almost forgotten what it’s like to see him play well. Could it have been Dylan’s “reverse-jinx”?

    Also if anyone ever again uses Darius Morris as an “example that Beilein can’t recruit”, they’re out of their minds.

  • AG2

    I think that D-Mo played a huge role in breaking that press. He got better and better as the game went on. Once the press was broken, just needed to find Manny and Peedi.

    Could Morris be that #3 we’ve been missing?

  • aiglick

    I just have one wish. I hope Ziegler and Horford were watching.

  • ToBlav

    We saw a lot of guys working on the parts of their game they need to. The guards tried to pull up off their drives some for jumpers. They need to learn to land in their footprints so they don’t float on those. Morris and everyone else looked a lot better. Hope they can finish the season strong and continue the improvement. Good to see them let it flow.

    Bobby Knight’s point about pressing not working against good teams might explain why Minny folds in the Big Ten lately.

  • AG2

    Btw, the McDonalds All American roster is out. OSU has 2, MSU has 1, Illinois has 1. McCollum made the team. And of course the rest were all Florida/UCLA/Texas/UNC guys, plus a bunch of undecideds who are all probably going to go to Kentucky.

  • Jeff: yeah, B10 hoop is ugly, and the officiating lousy. But if you look across all conferences you’ll find that the home team always goes to the line more. I don’t know if you can call it corruption; maybe the officials are just influence by the crowds. But in a certain fairly profound way, college hoop is f’d up.

  • Mike

    that was some of the worst officating ive seen in the last 10 mins in sometime

  • Good road win tonight. I’m glad we have Beilein over Tubby. I can’t beleive they kept letting Harris drive the lane. Good things happen between him and Sims when Harris drives the lane.

    Good coaches in the Big Ten know how to defend UM by stopping Manny driving down the lane. Tubby did not adjust.

  • maxwell’s demon

    Good to see Manny finally come back to life. He and Morris made Sims’ night very easy. If we have Manny or Trey next year Morris will be a great asset, but he wont be able to score by himself.

  • JRose

    Just got home from work…great discussion going on! Good to hear that D Mo had a big night. I keep thinking about next year,(not giving up on this year, just anticipation) if Horford and TZ commit and Manny stays, this could be a solid squad! Starting lineup of D Mo, TZ, Manny, Smotz and Morgan would be young, but talented. With Hardaway, Stu, Novock, Vogrich, McLimmas coming off the bench…sounds kinda nice. Even without TZ, Manny can play the 2 and Novack the 3 (really want TZ though!). Now back to this year…a little run into the tourney could lead to a BTT title?! Anyhow, great win against a shorthanded Minny team AT the Barn.

  • JayRich

    Thank you for arriving Darius Morris!

    That is all.

  • michigan hoops 4eva

    I don’t want to make this game more than it was, but what a win! we shot lights out, even gibson contributed, darius morris was lookin amazing, and even unfair officiating (which bob knight took note of at various times) couldn’t bring us down! big win, let’s at least get to the nit!

  • Erik

    That was the kind of game I expected from this team all season. I’ve been critical of them so they deserve my recognition tonight. Aside from the horrible free throw shooting and some questionable fouls, they played solid and they did a great job finding Peedi and getting high percentage shots.

  • fresh

    i was just watching video of robin benzing for anybody that remembers that name……..go to you tube and watch footage of him…… makes me very sad he was unable to play at michigan…….would have been a lot of fun watching this dude play

  • Tweeter

    Sorry if any of this is repeated but I dvr’d the game again, and did not feel like reading thru the posts. Here are my game thoughts:

    That was the worst officiated game I have ever seen. I rarely agree with Bobby Knight, but my lord. I thought I had seen teams play with their hands (mmmhmm, State), but Minnesota takes the cake. They fouled on virtually every possession. I almost feel like sending a letter to the Big Ten. UM got called for whiff fouls and Minny was hacking nonstop but yet never got called. If UM had lost I might have drove straight to the Big Ten offices and asploded on the CEOs desk.

    Great to see the guys hustling and playing with energy. Where has that been? The long break must have been a factor tonight.

    I guess someone on Minny missed the scouting report on Manny. How many times are you gonna let a guy drive to his right before you make him do something else? I mean, this just boggles my mind. If I am a Minnesota fan I am calling for Tubby’s head for this reason alone. You can put a walkon out there for all I care, but make the guy go to his left. jeesh.

    I think there were a lot of positives for the future in this game. Morris looks like he really might be a good player. Douglass, despite the fact that he missed a lot of good looks, looks like he could be a very solid two guard. You play those two, with Novak at the three if Manny leaves, or Manny at the three, with Novak off the bench. Then Metrics at the four and Morgan at the five. Im starting to like the looks of this. Plus there should be more depth next year.

    Once again, rarely agree with Knight, but the fact that Beilein has not tried to play Gibson and Sims together more continues to perplex me. I know it did not work earlier this year, but I really think they should have tried it more.

    LOL moment of the game, Knight continually mentioning UM as a good zone defense team. Gotta love the research department at ESPN.

  • Erik

    See, like I said before…for those who hate on Beilein, look at Tubby, Lickliter, Sampson/Crean….Beilein is the best of that group. We did good…just see what he can do in the next few years.

  • Kainkitizen

    I think everyone has written everything about the game that’s true. It wasn’t a great game but it was a good game for the boys to win. Darius is definitely catching on quite nicely with the point guard duties. He surely has improved in the last month. Practice time this week as done wonders for the team. I think tonight’s starting lineup is the one that Coach is going to go with for the remainder of the season. The future looks more promising as we continue to dream. Good win boys.

  • Drew

    Two things:
    1. I can’t help but think about how deep we could be next year if Manny comes back and we have Grady backing up at the point. I know that doesn’t solve our height issues, but man we should be able to run. Wouldn’t mind seeing Grady/Morris on the floor at the same time next year if Grady is playing fairly well, which for some reason I believe he will be.

    2. There is much to be said about how damn good Beilein is with extra time between games. We just don’t lose that often when we have that much rest/preparation. Clemson game also comes to mind.

  • michigan fan

    Great game last night. Everyting looks so much better when we are making baskets. I remain unconvinced that Gibson and Sims can never be on the floor at the same time. Not that Gibson is great, but his skills are reasonable and we desperately need more height. This is more going forward because certainly last night, things were going very well.

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