NIT Preview: Minnesota Golden Gophers


University of Minnesota (Public – Research Institution)
Mascot: Golden Gophers
Location: Twin Cities, MN
Enrollment: 52,500

Current Record: 22-14 (6-12 in Big 10 Conference)
RPI: 63        SOS: 40

Coach: Tubby Smith (5th year)

First Thought: I posted my first thoughts on Minnesota in a post earlier this week. Here is what I said:

"Minnesota is a really hot team right now. Has been playing impressive basketball and many are saying this may be the team to beat in the NIT tournament. They have controlled all three games they have played in the NIT and they are hoping to do the same  against Washington. This team is run as a defensive minded team first. Letting the defense lead to the offense. They can do a little bit of everything on the floor but nothing will blow you away. Their leading scorer is a big man, Rodney Williams."

Best Win: 77-74 at Indiana (RPI 11)

Worst Loss: 59-63 at Iowa (RPI 125)

Last Game: 78-72 win over Middle Tennessee (RPI 62) – In the third round of the NIT.

Synopsis: This game is a big game that is now not being played off the Huskies home court. They are back in Madison Square Garden where ironically they have already played two other games this year in that location. They are 0-2 in those games against Duke and Marquette. They are hoping for better results this time and a chance to cut down the nets on Thursday (the championship game).

The Gophers have had ups and downs this season, they have shown up in and played close against a couple of top teams in the country. They lost to Michigan State by 5, beat Indiana by 3, lost to Michigan by 4, beat South Dakota State by 16, and that’s just the beginning. However, they have also have played some terrible basketball on the season; they were beat by 16 versus Dayton, beat DePaul by only 1, lost to Iowa, and lost to Northwestern by 11.

However, right now they are playing some really good basketball and are looking to continue that against Washington.

Analysis: Let’s take a look at the star players for the Minnesota Golden Gophers.

Rodney Williams- is Minnesota’s best player. He is a combo player that is about 6’8 and can play by going in the post or to the wing. He isn’t known for his 3pt shot but he can shoot from out there and he is about 31% behind the arch. He averages 12 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 1.4 blocks a game. He is the player to keep an eye on, especially when the ball is in his hands.

Julian Welch- is the ball distributer but can also score. He has an impressive ability to find his teammates when they are open but also take it to the rack himself if needed. He averages 9.8 points, 2.9 assists, and 2.4 rebounds a game. He is also shooting 45% from the outside on 100 attempts.

Austin Hollins- The Hollins’ are known for their outside shot. Austin is averaging 9 points a game and many of those points are from behind the arch. He is shooting about 37% from three and has attempted the most shots from outside on his team; 131.

Andre Hollins- Also, shoots a lot of three point shots. He has attempted slightly less than Austin at 110 but also has a higher percentage; 39%. He also averages around 9 points a game.

My Prediction: Washington 78 Minnesota 71

This game comes down to guard play and both have pretty good guards. But matched up against each other, the Huskies are drastically better on paper. This game should be UW’s to win but it all depends on which team shows up on the floor for either squad.