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Game Details:

Who: Milwaukee
When: 7 p.m. CT
How: TV: ESPN3; Radio: ESPN 1500

Quick Prediction:

Milwaukee over Gophers 66-61

Three Questions:

  1. What will Dupree McBrayer do with increased playing time?
  2. Can Joey King bounce back after three sub-par games?
  3. How long will Richard Pitino’s tie stay on in this game?

With one final tune-up remaining before the conference season begins, the Gophers welcome the Milwaukee Panthers to the Barn hoping to end the non-con season on a semi-positive note.

Milwaukee

Nickname: Panthers
Record: 8-4
RPI: 135
Key Players: Matt Tiby, Austin Arians
Notes: The Panthers upset Wisconsin at the Kohl Center on Dec. 9

It would be a minor consolation in a two-month roller coaster ride for a young Minnesota squad, who has beaten Clemson and Missouri State, and taken Oklahoma State and Temple to the wire, while dropping head scratchers to the entire state of South Dakota. The Gophers have seen immediate growth from future cogs like Jordan Murphy, Kevin Dorsey and Dupree McBrayer, while getting absolutely nothing from the frontcourt or defense. With the postseason all but a pipe dream, seeing the program’s future foundation develop is at least something to applaud.

The Panthers come to town with their sights set on capturing the Horizon League crown this year. A veteran-heavy program, Blue Ribbon projects them to finish 2nd in the conference, and they’ve already dispatched Wisconsin this year. Yes, that Wisconsin. They’ve also lost to South Dakota, so go figure.

Still, it’s always a bit dicey when a veteran-laden non-conference opponent walks through the doors. They’re likely to be unfazed by being on the road, and judging by the fact they weren’t altogether intimidated by the Kohl Center crowd, I don’t think Gopher fans will create an environment striking fear into their hearts. I’m worried about this one. It has trap game written all over it.

Milwaukee is led my Matt Tiby, an all-conference forward who can hurt you inside and out. In fact, he dropped 31 in their loss to South Dakota and attempted 8 three pointers. He also nabbed a double-double against Wisconsin. They also have their very own Carlos Morris in Austin Arians, who loves to take shots and usually doesn’t make them. And at the end of the day he’s racked up a fair amount of points.

For the Gophers, they finally got back in the win column with a victory over Chicago State, a team they actually had some trouble with despite the 18-point victory. Joey King has put up three straight stinkers after a hot start to the season, while Nate Mason continues to be a solid scoring foundation. And Murphy. Oh Jordan Murphy. He’s racked up four double-doubles in five games and grabbed the most rebounds for the program (18) against Chicago State since Trevor Mbakwe in 2012. He’s fun.

Dupree McBrayer is expected to start and will get significant playing time with Kevin Dorsey out due to a heel injury. McBrayer has started the past two games in place of Charles Buggs.

Overall, the Gophers have had trouble winning games when they haven’t shot well — a problem that will plague them the entire season until they get their defense in order. In short, if they can’t hit a jumper then they can’t win the game. This was masked by Chicago State’s supreme awfulness, but that won’t hold up (and hasn’t) against conference opponents and even solid mid-majors like Milwaukee.

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