Friday, March 6, 2009

Not a Must Win, But it Wouldn't Hurt

I think the Gophers are probably in. With other bubble teams falling left and right, suddenly Minnesota's profile looks a lot better. That being said, winning tomorrow morning against Michigan would probably move them to lock status, as well as knocking Michigan off the bubble altogether.

As you are probably aware, Michigan is a very weird team. They are struggling at 8-9 in conference play, but have wins over Duke and UCLA on their resume. They also went into Connecticut and played UCONN tough, but dropped a game at Iowa last week. Not sure what to make of this team, but we saw them recently when they beat the Gophers in Ann Arbor thanks to a whole bunch of open shots.

Luckily, the Gophers play defense infinitely better in the Barn for whatever weird reason. Last time they were done in by DeShawn Sims ability to do whatever he wanted and some hot shooting from Zack Novak and Kelvin Grady, which stuck a bit extra because they were able to limit Manny Harris.

Harris needs to be held in check again, and I'm sure DJ (if that's who they go with again) can handle him. Ralph/Colton need to do a better job on Sims, but based on the struggles they had against Landry on Wednesday I'm a little bit nervous. The real key will be defending the three point line, and the Gophers seem to generally do a pretty good job at home, so hopefully Grady/Novak/assorted others won't be able to get the open looks they saw in Ann Arbor.

I feel like there's more I could say, but it boils down pretty simply:

The way I see it, if they win tomorrow and win a game in the Big Ten tournament, they're 100% in. If they win tomorrow and lose in the BTT, they're probably 95% in. If they lose tomorrow and win in the BTT, they're 80% in, and if they lose and then lose, they're 50% in. So just win tomorrow and get it over with.

That being said, I feel like there's going to be a let up here. I expect that the Gophers felt a huge weight lifted off their shoulders with the emotional Wisconsin win, and we will see them come out flat - including the toked up version of Westbrook. With Michigan in must win territory, they won't be able to recover from a slow start (I'm thinking 15-2 Michigan start). Michigan 60, Minnesota 51.