Who: Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks
When: 2:00 p.m. CT
How: TV: ESPN3; Radio: 1500 ESPN
Fresh off a 1-2 Puerto Rico Tip-Off trip, which was neither a failure or success, the Gophers return to The Barn with a stomach full of stuffing and bevy of problems that look to haunt them for the rest of the season. The good news? They play Summit League pushover Nebraska-Omaha as a transition back from the big, bad competition they faced in the Caribbean.
The Mavericks were actually in town two years ago and, despite the 92-79 final score, gave the Gophers all they could handle for 3/4ths of the game. Are they good now? No, they’re not. KenPom has them ranked at 203, and they’ve already dropped games to UC-Santa Barbara and Colorado. They do have a mutual opponent in UMKC, a team they had to go to overtime with, so we’re talking about a team that should have as much bite as the Kangaroos did a few weeks back in the season opener.
This is one of those games that should be used to smooth over fundamentals and work on getting some things back on track. Like not fouling so much and getting important rebounds. If the Gophers end up having trouble or even losing to UNO, there are bigger fish to fry than simply putting the opposing team at the line too often.
Who are the Mavericks?
Omaha comes into the game at 3-2, with wins over UMKC, Northern Colorado and Minnesota’s own St. Mary’s University. They finished 8th in the Summit last year and are expected to finish somewhere in the middle this year. They recently completed their four-year transition to Division I basketball, and are finally eligible for the postseason. Honestly, I can’t imagine trying to get up for games that won’t result in any potential postseason reward, but such is life among low-major programs.
The Mavericks are actually scoring at a pretty decent clip so far this season, averaging 89 points per game, which is good for 17th in the nation. 100+ points against St. Mary’s certainly helps that figure of course. If the Gophers can slow them down even a little bit and not shoot 20% from the field, they’ll be well on their way back to the victory column.
One guy that could give the Gophers problems? Tre’Shawn Thurman. The 6’7 sophomore has been dominant at times, and is averaging a cool 15 points and 7 rebounds per game, including a 30 and 11 game against UMKC. With Minnesota’s interior woes, Thurman could find himself having quite a day if Konate and Diedhiou continue to fail to show up.
Did You Know?
The Gophers are 67-1 all time against the Summit League. Not sure where that one loss came from.