|WHAT||#6 Michigan (23-3) vs
#46 Minnesota (17-9)
|WHEN||7 PM Thursday|
|LINE||Michigan –5, 69% to win (Kenpom)
Michigan –5, 71% to win (Torvik)
Uh so the Penn State loss looks less bad now? The Nittany Lions eviscerated Nebraska at home and now that loss Michigan suffered is a top 50 road loss, which… eh? Not too bad? Although maybe it's not the best to start with that event when Michigan is going on the road against an opponent that's ranked almost exactly where Penn State is?
Maybe some hats?
Click for big
Is that better?
THE LINEUP CARD
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Projected starters are in bold. Hover over headers for stat explanations. The "Should I Be Mad If He Hits A Three" methodology: we're mad if a guy who's not good at shooting somehow hits one. Yes, you're still allowed to be unhappy if a proven shooter is left open. It's a free country.
|G||0||Dupree McBrayer||Sr.||6'5, 195||73||18||102||Sort of|
|Vaguely PG-ish now with a 21 A/15 TO rate in B10 play. Shooting ugly: 45/28 in conference. Chucks up some ugly ones.|
|G||34||Gabe Kalscheur||Fr.||6'4, 200||74||16||114||No|
|Composite #198 FR has expanded his game a little but is still mostly Just A Shooter hitting 40% from deep.|
|F||21||Amir Coffey||Jr.||6'8, 210||84||24||106||Sort of|
|Wiry swingman being forced into a lot of tough shots, shooting 49/32, gets to the line a lot.|
|F||35||Jordan Murphy||Sr.||6'6 250||76||27||111||Yes|
|Bull of a PF grabs all the rebounds but can't really shoot and lack of size makes him meh (59%) at rim. Assist rate has doubled in final year. Drawing a ton of fouls.|
|C||22||Daniel Oturu||Fr.||6'10, 225||55||23||110||Yes|
|Composite #50 FR is already an excellent defensive C. 13% OREB rate, 7% block rate, almost all his shots at the rim. Black hole you can and should double. 5.5 fouls per 40.|
|G||23||Isaiah Washington||So.||6'1 195||40||23||86||God Yes|
|Disaster unicorn questionable with tailbone injury.|
|F||1||Eric Curry||Jr.||6'9, 240||22||15||96||Yes|
|Generic backup C except he doesn't really rebound.|
|G||2||Brock Stull||So.||6'4, 210||22||10||95||No|
|Getting Washington's minutes in last 3; in those minutes he sits in corner and hopes to get a 3 off.|
|C||15||Matz Stockman||Sr.||7'0, 245||13||25||106||Yes|
|Louisville transfer is a much better player than Curry, especially on D.|
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]
hope you've got some good sphincters eh [Campredon]
It's going to be a sphincter-testing stretch run for Minnesota, one of three Big Ten teams currently on the bubble. A twenty-one point thwacking of Indiana last weekend got them the very last bye in Joe Lunardi's opinion, but it's still very much touch and go. The Gophers are 7-8 in conference play and have a stretch run that's all A-tier; at Rutgers is the only game they're favored in, per Kenpom, and that's a 51% shot.
Winning a home game against Michigan wouldn't quite lock it up but would give them a lot more room for error. The Barn will be up for this one.
Minnesota remains the collection of large men who tend to dribble it off their face that they've been all year. They have in fact doubled down on this, as Dan Dakich pointed out in their most recent game: they're running a ton of high post stuff where the bigs will alternate posting and flashing to the free throw line, hopefully to get a good post entry angle. It's a response to not having a point guard, and… eh… it's fine.
The previous preview's personnel section is still mostly valid. The usual return-game adjustments:
- I did not mention that C Daniel Oturu has a frosh-like 5.5 fouls per 40 and occasionally has trouble staying on the floor. He fouled out in 13 minutes against Indiana and played just 10 against Michigan because he had 4. His OREB rate has fallen to 10% in B10 play, which is still quite good but not insane.
- Freshman shooting guard Gabe Kalscheur has started to diversify his game a bit and will venture inside a few times a game.
- Isaiah Washington has missed almost all of the last two games with a tailbone injury. He's now at 36/21 with a 21 TO rate. After a 0 ORTG game with 5 turnovers, no assists, and no points in the first Michigan matchup I don't know if the Gophers will be in a hurry to get him back.
- UWM grad transfer Brock Stull has taken most of Washington's minutes. He's extraordinarily bad inside the line but at least his usage is at 10% where it should be. 3/13 from 2, 9/18 from 3. Similar but less severe split (37/38) at UWM last year.
- Eric Curry and Matz Stockman are splitting backup minutes at the 5. Curry's playing time remains just as inexplicable some 200 possessions later. Minnesota is 0.14 PPP worse on D and 0.06 PPP worse on O with him on the floor; that former is a giant gap and it's one based almost entirely on two point D. Stockman is a hair better than other Minnesota lineups, probably because 400 of those possessions feature Curry.
- Pitino continues to put out the other guys for 4-6 minutes per game seemingly at random. One of 'em has funny hair.
A strange development: Minnesota's offense has surged and its defense plunged since the last meeting between these teams. In conference play the Gophers have the #4 offense and #13 defense. Go figure.
What's even odder is that the only one of the Four Factors that the Gophers are above average in is FT rate. They lead the league in FTA/FGA… and are tenth at making them. That's still 68%, so those possessions are good, but that usually doesn't work out against Michigan. The Gophers had 14 FTAs in the first matchup. That rate (27) is closer to Michigan's (24) than Minnesota's (40).
Anyway: Minnesota's still a team of bricklayers, now 341st in getting threes up and 278th in making them. Their two-point shooting is 209th nationally but it's gone up a couple of tenths in league play, which is sort of impressive. Also in this point-guard-light and defense-heavy league going up a couple of tenths from 209th nationally lands you third in conference 2P%.
On defense Minnesota has been bad at everything except preventing threes. They're 12th in 2P% D, 12th in forcing TOs, 9th at grabbing DREBs, and 11th when it comes to putting folks on the line. But they do limit threes and limit the efficacy of the threes that go up.
This is a notable change from the last game, when I theorized that the Gopher defense might be underrated because they were pretty good at most individual components but were suffering when opponents shot the relatively few threes they got up. 15 games into the conference schedule that theory is correct only in a Costanza sense.
Hit anything. The first game was close because Michigan decided to stop scoring with five minutes left. More generally, they were 3 of 22 from behind the arc. Minnesota does a good job of limiting threes but nobody does that good of a job. If Michigan hits 27%—still awful!—they win that game by 11.
I mean this is a stupid thing to say, "hitting shots is good." But what else can you say? Michigan is making things tough on themselves because they're getting open looks from three and not knocking them down.
Run on rebounds. One reason Minnesota's struggling on defense in league play is they're giving up more in transition than most Big Ten teams. Their average possession length is the second shortest in the league and that's not because they're forcing turnovers. 23% of opponent shots go up in the first ten seconds of the clock and those have an eFG% of 57%. It's the eFG that's an opportunity. Michigan is at 19% and a 45% eFG that's barely different than their non-transition number.
Michigan's final margin against Maryland was largely the 14 transition points they racked up by forcing steals and taking advantage of rebounds that bounced kindly. The Gophers crash the boards to help prop up their offense but they're just average in B10 play; they're not getting their money's worth there. Michigan's once-deadly transition game has been a little lame this year; hopefully they can sustain their most recent performance.
Double freely off Not Gabe Kalscheur. Other than Kalscheur (and Stull, I guess) the Gophers have no threatening shooters. Coffey's at 32%; McBrayer 29%. Michigan should be able to pick their spots to dig at Murphy, who will no doubt be trying to score through Brazdeikis's chest with frequency. Early in this one I'd rather risk threes from meh shooters than fouls on Iggy and Teske.
The X/Matthews Flowers For Algernon pills do not run out. X is 4/8 on his last 8 threes and had two others rattle out; Matthews has re-discovered his midrange ability; both are shooting free throws at rates that seem too good to be true. Long may it last.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Michigan by 5.