Game 29: Minnesota at Michigan Preview

Dylan Burkhardt
on

Basics

Who: Michigan (13-15, 6-10) vs. Minnesota (17-11, 8-8)
Where: Crisler Arena, Ann Arbor, MI
When: 7 PM, March 2nd, 2010
TV: Big Ten Network
Radio
: MGoBlue, WWJ 950 AM/WTKA 1050 AM
Line
: Minnesota by 1
Stats: Live TFS
Pomeroy Profile
Last Time: Preview / Post Game / Interview Preview

minnesota logo

Minnesota’s early February loss to Michigan might end up being the turning point in the Gophers’ season. After a home loss to a struggling Michigan team, Minnesota was on the mat with their bubble seemingly burst. This was the tune from Minnesota-folk after that loss:

I came into yesterday’s game with above-average expectations for a team that, for the most part, has underachieved all season.  They’d been up and down for the better part of the last month but were coming off a stretch where they had won two of three and seemed to have been gaining some momentum after an exciting Penn State finish.  A win over a struggling, down-on-their-luck Wolverines squad at home was going to propel the Gophers into a season-saving finish that would land them in the Big Dance.  Minnesota, instead, virtually demolished any hope of saving a spot in the field of 65 and, barring a miraculous turnaround, all but stamped their ticked to the NIT…maybe.

But now Minnesota is back on track. What changed? Minnesota plays zone.

Now the Gophers have gone big, gone zone, and gone on a 3-1 run with only a one point loss to Purdue.  Back on the bubble, the Gophers aren’t likely to come out flat again like they did against the Wolverines. They can’t afford to. They also can’t afford to let Manny Harris and Deshawn Sims play  two on five and dominate. Thanks to the zone the driving lanes won’t be open, and whomever is stuck guarding Sims will have automatic weak side help.

Tuesday’s game will come down to what every game since the zone switch comes down to, hoping and praying that the threes don’t fall.

So there you have it. Minnesota is going to dare Michigan to do the one thing they haven’t been able to do all season long. Shoot the three. Michigan has shown heart down the stretch but they have been unable to close out close games and they remain painfully unable to shoot the ball at a respectable rate.

I previewed Minnesota extensively the first time around (first with an interview and then with a traditional preview) so we will keep it a bit light this time around.

Minnesota is typically thought of as a defensive team but they have actually been more efficient on the offensive side of the ball in conference play. Minnesota is great shooting team. They shoot 50.4% on two point shots and a blistering 39.9% on threes. Minnesota doesn’t turn it over much (19% of possessions) but they also don’t get to the free throw line very often. Finally, Minnesota is respectable on the offensive and defensive glass but not overpowering.

Defensively, Minnesota has  changed a bit with their switch to the zone defense. In their past four games, Minnesota’ opponents are turning the ball over on only 11.7% of possessions. This is obviously because of Minnesota’s zone, the Gophers aren’t pressuring the ball nearly as much. I tend to think this is bad news for Michigan. Michigan typically protects the ball well, even against aggressive defenses. By not pressuring the ball, Minnesota has the length and athleticism to be able to sit back and wreak havoc in the paint.

Here’s a quick breakdown of Minnesota’s main personnel:

  • Devoe Joseph: The new starting point guard is solid and loves the pull up jump shot.
  • Blake Hoffarber: 48% three point shooter who just can’t be left open.
  • Lawrence Westbrook: Clutch. Westbrook is the Gophers leading scorer and he seems to always make the big shots down the stretch.
  • Ralph Sampson: The big man is a great shot blocker but still developing offensively but he did have a monster 21 points (7-11) 7 rebound game versus Purdue.
  • Damian Johnson: Long and athletic, Johnson is one of the best defenders in the Big Ten. He blocks shots, gets steals, and crashes the glass.
  • Paul Carter: Backup wing forward that killed Michigan in the first meeting, hit 4 of 5 shots for 11 points in 23 minutes.

The key for Michigan is going to be to hit the three. Michigan hasn’t fared well against teams that pack it in and dare them to shoot. Hopefully they are well prepared for the zone but even if they are, it still comes down to execution. Michigan has seemingly had Minnesota’s number over the past two seasons so it would be nice if they could figure out a way to beat them once more and come out victorious on senior night.

Vegas likes Minnesota by one while Pomeroy’s projections take Minnesota by two with a 41% chance of Michigan victory. Lets hear your thoughts, predictions, and whatever else in the comments.

  • AG2

    I wish I could be watching this game to see the send-off for Peedi.

  • michigan4204

    tell me about it AG2, the best we have played all year and I choose to go watch a high school basketball game instead…..oh well I’m sure the BTN will replay it later tonight

  • http://wolverineliberationarmy.com Musket Rebellion

    I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a player improve more in 4 years at Michigan than Peedi did. It will be sad to see him go.

  • gpsimms

    please just look nearly this good on sunday.

  • Brian W

    Was Marshall Plumlee at the game? Sure looked like him. Looked like was having a good time.

    Great win… Thanks to Peedi and Gibson. I’m glad the seniors went out with a win… Let’s beat Sparty this weekend.

  • jmblue

    Will this game be rebroadcast on the BTN?

  • http://www.umhoops.com Dylan

    12:30AM
    Big Ten Men’s Basketball ’09-’10: Minnesota at Michigan (HD)

  • MarcO

    I’m a broken record. When you have a pt guard who can drive the lane, it’s a totally diff game.

  • JimC

    Great offense, but yeah Dylan you’re right it’s too bad that this little crowd was Sims’ sendoff.

  • jmblue

    Awesome! I want to watch this one again.

  • aMaized
  • http://www.umhoops.com Dylan

    2011 big man Marshall Plumlee was in town tonight for the game. Certainly a nice performance.. not the best crowd though.

  • Tweeter

    Wow. great game tonight by the fellas. Although the crowd sucked, it was still a good way to go out for Peedi, Zach and Anthony. Nice that they all got to contribute as well.

    Again, its pretty clear that the Beilein system works well when guys make open shots. Hopefully we can build off of this and carry some of the mo over to the weekend.

    I also think it is pretty clear that Tubby Smith is a terrible game coach. The guy can recruit as well as any coach out there, but I have no clue what he is doing during games. If only him and Beilein could have a secret love child, and that secret love child could become the UM coach, we would be unstoppable. Tubby’s recruiting* with Beilein’s genius. Although, that would probably produce a dynasty similar to what Trinity college does in squash and therefore college basketball would become pointless.

    *(I still do believe in Beilein in recruiting though and think the next two classes are gonna be good).

    Brian, yes that was Plumlee. I was wondering who it was when I saw players talking to him. That dude needs to add about forty pounds, he made McLimans look swoll.

  • Tweeter

    Oh, and that dunk by Williams was effing sweet. One of the few times I have ever applauded an opponent in Crisler.

  • Drae

    Who is this new offer someone was talking about…

  • MaizeNBlue2

    Needless to say, I’ll be uploading this game to MGoVideo later this week. Go Blue!

  • Brian W

    Tweeter thanks for the confirmation on Plumlee. Yeah, he’s pretty lean. He just a junior in high school, so he’ll hopefully have filled out a little by the time he gets to college. I’m glad he saw a win and the love that the crowd (albeit small) gave the seniors.

    The dunk was sweet. It was funny that he got called for a foul on the other end right after, and Tubby took him out of the game.

    I shoul have thanked Ant also… We’ll need him and the bench in the Big Ten Tourney since Zack and Manny can’t play the entire game three or four (keeping positive) games in a row.

  • jmblue

    Tweeter – I don’t know that Tubby is that great of a recruiter. His recruiting classes at Kentucky weren’t all that remarkable, given their standards. I think he’s a pretty good coach as far as teaching fundamentals goes. I do agree, though, that he doesn’t seem that great of a in-game strategist.

  • Tweeter

    Drae, idk. aMaized posted about it. Markus Crider, a 6’6 wing from Ohio, class of 2011. I dont see UM offers on any of the sites though and a quick google stalk didnt reveal anything.

  • Tweeter

    I thought he did pretty good at UK recruiting. Dont really remember though, so your probably right that he didnt do as well as UK should. I remember he had one great class at some point with Rondo and Crawford and a couple other guys.

  • Brian W

    I hate typing on my phone. It never fails that I miss a letter or something… to quote the Crisler Arena announcer, “Good night, Michigan.” Good win. Time to stop typing with a stylus now.

  • gpsimms

    too bad, i was hoping for Ill. upset, plus Michigan upset sunday could give us a second round game vs. purdue with hummel out.

    looks like we’ll have to beat the buckeyes. yuck.

  • Deacon Blues

    @Tweeter & jmblue

    Yeah, it’s funny about Tubby: He had just the opposite reputation at UK. Excellent game coach; relatively so-so recruiter. He did just fine with Pitino’s players — national title in year one, Elite Eight in year two — but was underwhelming thereafter (again, relatively speaking).

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  • Joel

    Boooo your spam, booooo. Amazing performance, great to see Deshawn and the other seniors go out that way @ home. I don’t expect much from the MSU game and Big Ten tourney but who knows.

    Go Blue.

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