It is hard to think with the struggles that if the season ended today the Gophers would still likely be in the tournament. There RPI is still 38. They are higher than teams like Gonzaga, Arizona, Texas and Florida . That said I don't think they can go 2-2 and make the tournament unless they make a serious run in the Big Ten tournament.
On to the game itself. It comes down to one simple reason that I didn't think would be a problem. Defense. They had no perimeter defense allowing Michigan to make 13 3-pointers. It is no secret that the Gophers love the blocked shot and so Michigan would penetrate and the whole team would converge looking for the block and he would simply kick it out to a wide open shooter and they hit it. The other issue was getting back on defense. There were multiple times the Wolverines just beat the defense down the court and got easy layups and dunks.
The Gophers player of the game is the same as last game. Devoe Joseph again lead the team in scoring with 14 points and 4 assists. We wasn't as hot as he was against Penn State but still went 5-9 and 3-6 from behind the arc. He got significant playing time with 31 minutes and Nolen only had 18 minutes. I would look for Joseph to start in place of Westbrook on Sunday which would be good because Westbrook is my least favorite player and he showed why again yesterday. This team is lacking a leader and he is an anti-leader. He is selfish with the ball and if he is not scoring he does nothing else, he doesn't play defense and gives no effort what so ever. He got 12 points yesterday but it took him 15 shots to do so. I can't wait till we get more talent next year so Westbrook can fade to the background and we don't need him.
Stats of the Game
- 28: Points scored by Michigan inside the 3 point arc. 39 points came from behind the arc.
- 30: Points scored by Zach Novak and Stu Douglass. They average a combined 12.6 ppg for the season.
- 3.9: PPG by Colton Iverson in Big Ten games. He can block shots and rebound but he has disappeared as a low post threat. Lack of low post scoring is the biggest reason for the half-court offense struggles.