Friday, December 21, 2007
Pretty much a horrible night last night, going 2-8 on basketball games, losing the bowl game, and having Ben Roethlisberger - who I'm playing in the fantasy superbowl - go off for three touchdowns. If my life was the history of gopher basketball, last night was the Monson era.
As far as the Gophers vs. Santa Clara game (which I can't attend due to a Christmas party), this should be a good test for the Gophers. Santa Clara is a decent team, who has already played 8 road games and has a road win @ Utah. The Gophers should be able to handle the Broncos, but if they don't play well (see: SDSU game) they could get into some trouble.
Of course, these are still the Gophers, even with Tubby they always make me nervous. There are three big factors that could swing the game in Santa Clara's favor:
1. Big guy downlow: Santa Clara's leading scorer is 6-10, 305 lb. center John Bryant, averaging 19.7 pts, 8.6 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks per game. With Spencer and Williams loving to get into foul trouble, and Coleman's inability to guard anyone, this guy worries me. He's big, he's goofy looking, and he's basically a more polished Jeff Hagen, but he could do some damage. He also shoots 74% from the line, so when Spencer and Williams keep fouling him, he can make them. He has played his best games against really bad teams, but he's been pretty consistent, scoring at least 13 points in every game this season.
2. 3-point shooting: You can't really double down on Bryant either, because Santa Clara can burn you with the three-ball. The Broncos rank sixth in the country in 3-point accuracy at 44.1%, and it's not just one or two guys doing the damage. They have four players who average at least one three pointer per game, and three of the four shoot it at 46% or higher, led by Brody Angley at 52%. Minnesota has defended the three much better this season than the infinity seasons under Monson, but with four different guys capable of knocking down an open one, it's definitely a concern.
3. Homecoming: The Broncos third leading scorer, behind Bryant and Angley, is 6-7 forward Mitch Henke from Minnetonka, MN at 10.5 ppg. I would guess that he is going to be pretty amped up to play in his home state. Will this lead him to explode, he has two twenty point games already this year, or will he crumble? Or neither?
All this being said, I expect Tubby to have the team ready, particularly after that worrisome win (yes, it's still a win, I get it) over SDSU. Minnesota 81, Santa Clara 71.
Hawaii -2 vs. St. Johns (L)
Wyoming -4 vs. Buffalo
NC State -3 vs. Davidson (L)
Northern Colorado +7.5 @ Portland
Clemson -9.5 vs. DePaul (W)
St. Mary's -9.5 vs. E Tenn State
Utah St -7 vs. Northern Arizona
And I still refuse to believe that Pitt is for real. Not doing it.
Oh, and going with Florida Atlantic -3.5 in the New Orleans Bowl.