Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Gophers vs. Cats

Tonight, in a huge rivalry game, the Gophers take on Northwestern in what is sure to be the game of the year.

Ok, I tried. I can't really get hyped up for this game. Hopefully the Gophers can, because even though Northwestern is 0-8 in the Big Ten, they have had two wins since Big Ten play began over fearsome Chicago State and Texas - Pan Am.

Ok, I'm not taking this seriously, and I really should. Northwestern very well could get their first Big Ten victory tonight, particularly if the Gophers come out as flat as they did against Wisconsin. I am not taking this game lightly, as I can envision the following:

- Craig Moore gets hot from three, and puts down 6-7 of them. He has hit five or more in a game five times this season, and isn't afraid to shoot them as he's attempted 10 or more five times as well. Not the same five times. He's hitting 43% this year, and it's absolutely critical not to let him get off.

- Michael Thompson handles the pressure defense the way Trevon Hughes did, not the way Eric Gordon did, and gets himself to the basket at will. Is he capable of this? He had 16 with 5 assists and 1 turnover against Wisconsin, a better defensive team than the Gophers.

- Kevin Coble uses his weird shaped body to create matchup problems, too quick for Spencer, too good with his back to the basket for Coleman.

- The Gophers come out flat and start slow, get confused by Northwestern's zone and slow tempo (309th in pace), revert to last year and let this one get away.

Do I think any of that will happen? Maybe one thing, but not all of them. This should be a Gopher win. Not only is Northwestern 0-8, but their closest loss thus far was by 9.

They don't turn it over (18th best), they will turn you over (26th), and they love to shoot the three (44% of FGAs are threes - 21st in NCAA). However, they also will allow you to score - 331st in defensive effective FG%, 298th against the three and 318th against the two, and 326th in preventing offensive rebounds. And despite loving the three, they don't shoot it that well - 122nd.

The last time the Gophers faced a team this bad on the defensive end, they came out attacking and aggressive and beat the crap out of Michigan. Let's hope for a repeat of that performance, and not of the Wisconsin game.

Minnesota 68, Northwestern 58.

Also that picture up top is the Northwestern girls soccer team according to the Internet, and the Internet and I are good friends so I know it would never lie to me.

St. Joe's PK @ Duquesne (L)
UCONN +3 @ Syracuse (W)
Minnesota -6.5 @ Northwestern (W)
Notre Dame PK @ Seton Hall (W)
Kentucky -3.5 @ Auburn (L)
UNLV +2.5 @ Utah (L)
Wisconsin -7.5 @ Iowa (L)
Baylor -8 vs. Texas Tech (L)
Duke +4 @ North Carolina (W)
Bradley -6.5 vs. Missouri State (W)
Texas +3 @ Oklahoma (W)
Air Force +10 @ San Diego State

Yesterday: 4-5
Season: 291-271

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