Why am I writing a preview for the Gophers' game against St. Peter's, a team that is 2-5 and whose only wins were over a couple of even more terrible squads (Siena and Binghampton which is five hours each way)? Especially since I couldn't even be bothered to do a post-game write-up on their win over Appalachian State because I was so thoroughly bored with it? It's not because I'm really super excited to see the Peacocks (yes, seriously) since I assume Keydren Clark didn't somehow get back in, it's because I see a possible crack here where the Gophers are going to need to be careful with this team. Stay with me.
Yes, St. Peter's is an awful, awful team. I mean you don't just lose to Fairleigh Dickinson by 11 or Manhattan by 26 without being an abomination, no doubt, but they do two things well: grab offensive rebounds and force turnovers. The Peacocks force turnovers on 25% of their opponents possessions, good enough for 39th best in the country, and they grab the O-board on 37.8% of their misses which ranks 42nd in the country.
They have seven different players on the team who average at least 0.5 steals per game, including Brandon Hall who plays 23 minutes per game and essentially doesn't nothing but steal the ball (2.3 per game in those 23 minutes). They also have three guys (Yvon Raymond, Karee Ferguson, and Jack Hill) who are especially adept at grabbing offensive rebounds, particularly Raymond. Since St. Peter's is pretty horrible at every other aspect of basketball these are pretty clearly their strengths.
Which is what makes Saturday's game slightly interesting to me because their strengths are two places were the Gophers are weak. They're are still terrible taking care of the ball, turning it over on 22.5% of their possessions which ranks 228th in the country, and they are very middle-of-the-road when it comes to preventing offensive rebounds, ranking just 163rd. Even that number, however, is misleading a bit because the Gophers are averaging almost 50% more offensive rebounds allowed per game since Mbakwe went down compared to beforehand (about 10 vs. 7). So you see, this makes St. Peter's an intriguing opponent.
Not like, a super intriguing opponent, just kind of. If they could shoot I'd be on high upset alert, but luckily for you they're dreadful. They shoot 26% from three and 44% from two, which when combined gives them one of the worst eFG%'s (think of it as points per shot attempt) in the country (rank 314th in the country). They turn the ball over like crazy, play mediocre defense, can't hit their free throws, and get their shots blocked and have the ball stolen away from them like they're a bunch of 2nd grade girls running around. All in all their offense ranks 312th in overall efficiency, and that's WITH that really good offensive rebounding number. Take that away and this might be the worst offensive team in the country.
So I'm not going to call out any individual players on this team because I'd be lying if I pretended to know dick about any of them. I will say that you shouldn't be surprised if this game is slightly closer than you'd think based on what I've outlined above. You also shouldn't be surprised if the Gophers win by 40. I'm guessing somewhere in the middle.
Minnesota 62, St. Peter's 50