Tag Archives: Game Preview
Posted on 28. Feb, 2014 by JF.
The Minnesota Golden Gophers survived February, their cruelest month, and now head to Michigan to start the month of madness. Despite the encouraging in over Iowa earlier this week, Minnesota is still firmly on the NCAA tournament bubble. Michigan, who long ago secured their spot in the NCAA tournament, continues to battle Michigan State for the conference title.
Posted on 24. Feb, 2014 by JF.
Life on the bubble, and particularly life on the bubble in the Big Ten, is full of second, third, and fourth chances. The Minnesota Golden Gophers have yet another opportunity to save their season on Tuesday night when the Iowa Hawkeyes come to town for a nationally televised game. A rivalry that seemed to be on the verge of death a few years ago is once again alive and well. The Gophers ruined Iowa’s chance to make the NCAA tournament with an Austin Hollins buzzer beater a year ago. Iowa hopes to send the Minnesota to the NIT this year. College basketball is nothing without rivalries, and it is much better when those rivalry games matter.
Posted on 21. Feb, 2014 by JF.
Everyone talks about the NCAA tournament bubble this time of year, but a better metaphor is probably a cliff. After losing a very winnable game against last place Illinois, the Golden Gophers are perched three short steps from the precipice. With each regular season loss, they get a step closer, and at step number three, they go over the edge, crashing into the NIT. A path to the NCAA tournament still exists, but it is fraught with danger.
Posted on 18. Feb, 2014 by JF.
It wouldn’t be February without a bit of drama surrounding the Golden Gophers basketball program, both on and off the court. In a complete unexpected turn of events, the drama might not be unwelcome. On the court, Minnesota’s win over Northwestern means the Illinois game on Wednesday has big NCAA tournament implications. Off the court, Wally Ellenson has chosen the sport at which he is most likely to succeed.
Posted on 15. Feb, 2014 by JF.
Two-thirds of the Big Ten season has gone by, and the Minnesota Golden Gophers are still the worst defensive team in the Big Ten. It is too late in the season to hope that they’ll become a good defensive team, probably too late to hope they’ll become average, and will soon be too late to think they can get out of the defensive cellar. The Gophers are not going to win any games because of their defense. However, there is a glimmer of hope that the defense, on occasion, will be just good enough to allow Minnesota’s offense to win. Sunday evening at Northwestern would be a fine time for that to happen.
Posted on 12. Feb, 2014 by JF.
The Golden Gophers saved their season with a gut-wrenching 66-60 win over the Indiana Hoosiers on Saturday. A win over the Badgers on Thursday night would inch the Gophers closer to something exceedingly rare, a stress-free Selection Sunday.
Posted on 07. Feb, 2014 by JF.
The Minnesota Golden Gophers and the Indiana Hoosiers, who play each other in a rather important game for NCAA tournament purposes on Saturday evening, find themselves in nearly the same position. Both teams are on the bubble, trying to take charge of their own destiny, lest they be forced to hope that other teams play themselves out of the NCAA tournament. However, while Gopher fans (and players unfortunately) have begun to panic about their NCAA tournament prospects, Indiana fans think that is so six weeks ago, and are now becoming more confident as the season progresses. Expectations are to blame.
More than one way to skin a cat: Richard Pitino, Chris Collins, and different approaches to defense.
Posted on 31. Jan, 2014 by JF.
The Minnesota Golden Gophers and Northwestern Wildcats will won’t resolve any age-old debates on Saturday in The Barn, but they will provide plenty of fodder for those who like to argue if offense or defense is more important in college basketball. The Gophers have the worst defense in the Big Ten, and Northwestern’s offense is historically inept. We won’t find out if defense wins championships on Saturday, but we may find out if a resistable force (Minnesota’s defense) can defeat a movable object (the Wildcat offense).
Posted on 25. Jan, 2014 by JF.
There is no good time for an injury, especially an ankle sprain that could linger for the rest of Andre Hollins’ junior season. Some times are worse than others, and the Golden Gophers got a bit lucky with the timing of this injury. There will be only two games in the two weeks following the win over Wisconsin, and Nebraska and Northwestern can’t compare to the four game gauntlet that Minnesota survived. Still, in a conference as tough as the Big Ten, someone will have to step up for the Gophers to keep winning, especially on the road in Lincoln on Sunday.
Posted on 21. Jan, 2014 by JF.
Before every Big Ten game, we try to track down someone who knows a bit more than we can figure out from perusing statistics and box score. Andy from Madtown Badgers graciously agreed to answer a few questions prior to Richard Pitino’s first real rivalry game.
Posted on 18. Jan, 2014 by JF.
On Sunday afternoon, for the first time since 2006, the Golden Gophers will face a ranked Iowa Hawkeyes team in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. In January of 2006, the Hawkeyes led by Pierre Pierce, beat the Gophers 66-60. Eight years and four combined head coaches later, what was once a great rivalry is beginning to have meaning again. Rivalry games always matter, within the context of a rivalry. Beyond bragging rights though, no one particularly cares when mediocre teams from neighboring states battle to prove which team is a little less horrible. This year, Iowa is a contender for a conference championship, and the Gophers have a chance to prove they should be involved in that conversation too.
Posted on 15. Jan, 2014 by JF.
Matt Barker of Buckeye Banter graciously agreed to answer a few questions about the Ohio State Buckeyes, the first top 10 team to come to The Barn since Indiana last season. We answered some questions too, and you can read those answers here.
FTB: We all know that Ohio State has one of the best defenses in the country. What makes them so good? Please mention something other than Aaron Craft.
MB: It starts with Thad Matta’s starting lineup that features three guards. Then you mix in 6-foot-8 forward LaQuinton Ross with 6-foot-11 center Amir Williams and all five are very athletic. Plus, Matta has a deeper bench this season and you add some length with 6-foot-7 forwards Sam Thompson and Marc Loving, Williams is a good shot-blocker in the low post, but it all starts in the backcourt with Aaron Craft and Shannon Scott. I have to include Craft in this question since he’s the best on-ball defender in the country. Case in point, in five games over the last two seasons against Michigan, Trey Burke shot just 36 percent from the field and 30 percent from three-point range. While he did average 13.2 points and 5.2 assists, he also averaged 4.4 turnovers in those games against Craft.
Posted on 10. Jan, 2014 by JF.
The next four Golden Gopher basketball games will not be for the faint of heart. After three straight games decided by three points, the Gophers start a stretch of four straight games against ranked teams, the first such four game stretch since 1996. The bad news is that these will likely be losses, and at least one of them is bound to be ugly. The good news is that the Gophers won’t hurt their NCAA tournament chances if they lose all of them, and will significantly improve their chances if they win any of them. The rough stretch starts Saturday afternoon at Michigan State.
Posted on 07. Jan, 2014 by JF.
Not long ago, in the late oughts for instance, a Big Ten basketball game between the Golden Gophers and Penn State Nittany Lions had great potential to be a dreadful affair. Sure, there could be some excitement, like when Lawrence Westbrook ripped the soul out of all 37 fans in attendance in Happy Valley.
Posted on 04. Jan, 2014 by JF.
The Purdue Boilermakers and Minnesota Golden Gophers enter Sunday’s game in a similar predicament. Neither team is among the worst in the Big Ten. That dishonor seems reserved for Northwestern, Nebraska, and potentially Penn State and neither would be confused for the conference’s elite. But after a disappointing home loss for each in the Big Ten opener for each team, both are left wondering how good or bad they can be. There is generally a large range within the Big Ten’s middle tier, and Purdue and Minnesota would both rather be playing for an NCAA tournament bid than a trip to the NIT. Falling to 0-2 in conference play makes the latter much more likely.