Stop us if you have heard this one before. Indiana just needs to get a win.
Trouble is, so does Minnesota. While Indiana has lost 9 of 10, the Gophers have lost 7 of 11. Neither team can afford another loss at this time of year — but someone will be walking off the Williams Arena floor on Saturday afternoon with just that.
IU is still firmly in the NCAA Tournament hunt, and a win over Minnesota would provide another quality win to further bolster that resume.
But it won’t be easy. The Gophers have lost just twice all year on their home floor — both to higher end Big Ten opponents (Maryland and Wisconsin).
GAME DAY ESSENTIALS
Indiana (13-11, 4-9) at Minnesota (16-9, 6-8)
- Tip time: 2:00 p.m. Eastern
- Location: Williams Arena (14,625)
- Television: ESPN2 (Jason Benetti and Dan Dakich)
- Series: Indiana leads 101-68 (Indiana won the last meeting 80-56 on February 9, 2018)
- Point Spread: Minnesota is a 3 point favorite.
- Tickets (Seat Geek affiliate link)
Richard Pitino is in his 6th season leading the Minnesota program. He has compiled a 106-87 record during his tenure with the Gophers.
- Archie Miller and De’Ron Davis preview Minnesota
- Richard Pitino previews Indiana
- Will Indiana make changes to the starting lineup?
TALE OF THE TAPE
KEYS TO VICTORY
Who is going to knock down some shots? As simple as it sounds, this game just might come down to which team can hit a few open looks. As bad as it seems that Indiana shoots the ball from long range, and they do, Minnesota shoots it worse. The Gophers are a Big Ten worst 31% from long range. To their credit, they know their weakness and also have attempted the least three pointers in the league.
Gabe Kalscheur is Minnesota’s best threat from long range, hitting 38% of his attempts. No one else is above the team average of 31%, although Dupree McBrayer (29%) is streaky and can do damage.
Minnesota’s defensive approach. The Gophers are struggling on defense in Big Ten games, with the second worst defensive efficiency in the league in conference only contests. Will the Gophers try to amp up the pressure at home to generate turnovers, or will they be content like others have to force IU to make shots over the top?
While it might be tempting to bring the pressure, a sagging defense that goes under screens has proven to be a template to beat IU. Pitino has shown a willingness to press and even play some zone at times which might also give the Hoosiers trouble.
Who guards Amir Coffey? Minnesota’s scoring leader is going to be a tough matchup for Indiana. As a 6-foot-8 wing, the most natural defender would likely be Romeo Langford. Will Archie Miller risk getting his own leading scorer in foul trouble? Coffey draws more than five fouls per game.
Justin Smith would be the other option, but Coffey might be too quick off the dribble. If Smith gets the assignment, that might mean that Juwan Morgan and De’Ron Davis start with him to deal with Jordan Murphy and Daniel Oturu.
Keep the Gophers off the glass. Minnesota rebounds 34% of their missed shots, which is good for 34th in the country. As a poor shooting team, the Gophers make up for it by getting second chance points in the paint. We’ve seen this story before against Michigan State, with Indiana seemingly at a disadvantage on the boards but coming out on top.
Murphy and Oturu are the two Gopher workhorses, averaging 11.9 and 7.3 rebounds per game, respectively.
It is a tall order against Minnesota, and it will literally get taller if 6-foot-9, 240 pound Eric Curry can work his way back into the lineup. Pitino indicated that Curry is getting closer to a return.
PREDICTION: Minnesota 67 Indiana 62
Game note: After missing several months with concussion symptoms, Minnesota native Race Thompson may see his first action since November in his home state. Miller indicated that Thompson has been back practicing with the team and is ready to go. Thompson’s father Darrell is Minnesota football’s all-time leading rusher. His brother True is a current member of the Gopher football team.
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