Saturday, January 17, 2009

Northwestern Preview

#18 Minnesota Golden Gophers (16-1, 4-1) at Northwestern Wildcats (8-6, 0-4)

Northwestern is a perennial bottom feeder in the Big Ten and they haven't gotten off to an impressive start this year. They have never made the NCAA tournament and this does not appear to be their magical season. They have had some good wins and should have beaten Purdue on Thursday but they are not an NCAA caliber team. Here is Northwestern's Resume:

Wins to showcase:
  • vs Florida State 73 - 59
  • vs DePaul 63 - 36
Losses to hide from:
  • at Penn State 57 - 61
  • at Wisconsin 45 - 74 (Losing by 29 not the opponent)
  • Ball Control: 11.5 turnovers per game, 1.4 assists to turnover ratio
  • Quick Hands: 7.4 steals per game, 3rd in conference. Gophers 1st with 9.0
  • Kevin Coble: 14.2 ppg, 5.4 rebs, 2.3 ass
  • Rebounding: 34. 6 per game, second worst in conference
  • Free Throws: 64.7% worst in conference
  • Perimeter Defense: Opponents shoot 36.1% from 3, second worst in conference
While their losses are not too embarrassing, they don't have any real good wins, DePaul is the worst team in the Big East and their third best win is probably over 9-7 UC Riverside. They play a style similar to Iowa. They play slow and limit possessions. If they make you play their style it could be a close game, if you force them to play up-tempo it could get ugly.

Interesting things to watch:
  • Gophers athleticism: The Gophers have some long quick wings in Johnson, Bostick and Carter that can cause some problems and they will likely be assigned to shut down Coble.
  • Blake Hoffarber: Lost in the excitement around the program is the struggles of Blake Hoffarber. He has shot 3-20 from 3 in the 5 Big Ten games and has not made one since the Ohio State game. That is 15%. He shot 42.7% last year. He did very well against Northwestern last year scoring 15 points in both games. I look for him to shake off the drought at Northwestern.

This has the possibility to be a trap game. Coming off a huge win at Wisconsin and playing a bottom feeder. Northwestern showed in the Purdue game that they can be very dangerous. The game will be similar to the Iowa game if we shoot poorly we will be in for a dog fight but if we play like we can it should be a breeze. Monson frequently struggled with Northwestern's defense but Tubby doesn't have the same issues. In the two games against Northwestern last year the Gophs won by 19 and 20 points. They scored 92 at Northwestern last year. Also the Barnyard has chosen this game for their annual road trip. I don't know the number they are bringing but with Northwestern's lack of attendence the game might feel more like a neutral court game than a road game.

Gophers 73, Northwestern 60

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