Friday, February 1, 2008

Gophers vs. Badgers

Have you ever had this Odwalla Superfood Micronutrient Fruit Juice Drink stuff? It's some kind of super healthy fruit juice thing that Mrs. W got for me since I'm feeling a bit under the weather (not hungover). She's kind of got some hippie type leanings, and this is right up that alley. Contains not only infinitely many fruit juices and purees, but also wheat grass, barley grass, wheat sprouts, and artichoke. It looks like baby throwup. Doesn't taste too bad though.

Ok, with that important business out of the way, my attention must unfortunately turn Gophers taking on the Badgers, fresh off their shellacking of the mighty Hoosiers.

I'm not finding a whole lot of reasons to be optimistic here. The Badgers rank 17th in RPI, and fifth in the Pomeroy ratings. The Gophers ranks 83rd and 40th. Pomeroy predicts a 65-61 victory for the Badgers. Wisconsin is solid on offense, but tremendous on the defensive end. They currently rank 3rd in the nation in defensive efficiency, and 7th in defensive effective FG percent. Against a team like the Gophers, who have shown a tendency to struggle on the offensive end of the court, this could prove deadly. Hopefully their new found offensive attacking philosophy from last night's game against Michigan will carry over to Sunday.

Minnesota still has an outstanding defense, and still ranks first in the country at creating turnovers. The problem is, Wisconsin doesn't turn it over very often. This game could easily end up in the 40s.

Brian Butch very seriously worries me (edited to add this picture that was pointed out to me by From the Barn). He's transformed from a gangly, skinny weinerkid to a high quality, inside/outside big man, who is 6-11, 235 (that seems low). I have no idea how they are going to handle him. Tollackson has similar size, but is about 85 technique points behind, and might get destroyed. Not to mention Butch could head out to the perimeter, where he can shoot the three, and pull Spencer away from the rim, opening up the paint for guys like Jon Leuer (6-10), Greg Steimsma (6-11), and even Marcus Landry at 6-7, being guarded by Coleman or Johnson.

The best bet on defense, I think, would be to go with a zone with a lot of pressure on the guards. If they do go man, they will have to try to absolutely smother Trevon Hughes and try to make Flowers and Bohannon handle the ball. That may throw Wisconsin off enough to get an advantage, although when Hughes missed the game against Texas it didn't matter as Wisconsin only turned it over 10 times and won in Austin.

If Westbrook can get up on Hughes, that would leave McKenzie to guard Flowers, a matchup he can win. Coleman is lucky because Krabbenhoft is the kind of guy he should be able to handle, leaving DJ on Landry and Tollackson on Butch, which is really where this game will be won or lost. Offensively, the guards should be able to get into the lane a bit, and if Coleman can be assertive like he was last night he should be able to score on either Landry or Krabbenhoft, and I don't fear Butch as a shot blocker. Wisconsin is also the kind of team where Hoffarber should be able to get some time, although I think Nolen will struggle.

In the end, there are far too many reasons Wisconsin should win this, and not nearly enough reasons to believe in the Gophers in this spot. Wisconsin has really surprised me this year, but they are clearly a top team in both the Big Ten and the country.

Wisconsin 56, Minnesota 48.


From the Barn said...

Leur has more or less disappeared since his big game earlier in the season. Apparently pasty white boy syndrome (or whatever you call it) has afflicted Bo Ryan.

WWWWWW said...

I'm predicting a big game out of either him or Stiemsma. One of the two secondary big men.

Dave said...

When has Stiesma, aka Jeff Hagen junior year reincarnate, been due for a big game?

WWWWWW said...


Dave said...

I'd be willing to bet on that. Unless you define a big game as 6 pts and 4 boards from a guy who is 4 inches taller then anyone else in the building (which according to his career game log, it would be). Do you think he will break his season high point total of 10?

WWWWWW said...

Either Leuer or Stiemsma will hit double digit points (more than double their averages).

WWWWWW said...

We're probably using different definitions of "big game."

Dave said...

Agreed, I think I was just shocked to see those names and big game in the same sentence.