University of Minnesota Golden Gophers vs. South Dakota State Jackrabbits

8:00 pm (CST) at Williams Arena

Radio: WCCO 830 AM

Tv: Big Ten Network

Tickets: Row 9, in the upper deck at the three point line

Last year at about this time, a confident Gopher basketball team was hoping to cruise past seemingly over matched South Dakota State, and the confidence nearly cost the team their season. In front of a particularly moribund crowd, the Gophers eeked out a victory in a game that the really should have lost. In the non-loss, the Gophers were out rebounded 36-22, including 16-5 on the offensive end, despite having a size advantage at every position on the court. The Jackrabbits wanted it more, and were almost able to outwork the Gophers for the win.

With their talent and athleticism, Minnesota should once again be able to win without even trying. However, after their first half wake-up call against Cornell, and with a roster riddled with injuries, it is doubtful that the Gophers will overlook the Jackrabbits. Colton Iverson certainly won’t. The native South Dakotan will be facing 7 other South Dakotan on SDSU’s roster. Those seven will want another chance to show that they deserved the out of state scholarship. Iverson will want to exact revenge for the double teams and hard fouled that he endured as the top played in the state for most of his career. With only one Jackrabbit 6’7” or taller averaging more than 10 minutes per game, Wednesday could look a lot like Iverson’s high school days, dominating much shorter teams.

Keys for the Gophers

  1. Cope with the injuries. Blake Hoffarber and Paul Carter are out for sure. Devron Bostick has a tweaked ankle too. Jonathan Williams is far from 100%. The Gophers will need to find some chemistry and rotation that can play well together.
  2. End it early. If SDSU is anything like they were last year, they will hang on until the very end. Last year the Gophers trailed by as many as 9 in the first half, and never led by more than 6, the eventual margin.
  3. Go inside every possession. With their size advantage, Iverson, Sampson, or Williams should touch the ball every possession in a position to score. They don’t need to shoot every position, but with a half foot height advantage it should alwasys be an option.

Keys for the Jackrabbits

  1. Shut down the Gophers on the outside. This is the only area where SDSU really excels, and if they the Gophers are cold from behind the three point line, they will be able double team on the inside without horrible repercussions.
  2. Take care of the ball. The Jackrabbits turned the ball over more than almost every other team in the country last season, but committed only 11 turnovers when they played the Gophers. They aren’t much better this year, and will need to play mistake free to even have a chance.
  3. Keep it close. South Dakota State does not have the fire power to make a comeback if the get down early.

Key Players for the Gophers

  1. Kevin Payton. I may regret this, but with Hoffarber out and Bostick hurt, he should get more playing time than usual.
  2. Colton Iverson faces what is more or less his home town team.
  3. Travis Busch has been playing well, and with their lack of height, Busch should be able to try a few post-up moves (note, be able is the same as should).

Key Players for the Jackrabbits

  1. Garret Callahan lit up the Gophers for 28 points om 18 shots last year. This year he is averaging 18 ppg. He brings the firepower, and it will be his responsibility to keep it close.
  2. Kai Williams is a tweener who could pass for an interior player only on the Jackrabbits, and is secondon the team in rebounding and scoring.
  3. Anthony Cordova is the only player for SDSU who is 6’7” and expects to see serious minutes. He leads the team in rebounding.

Prediction: 77-52

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