- Being in Utah means that the Big 10 Network is not available, and because we are "visiting family" the best I could do was check in on my phone, read texts from Snacks and Grand Slam, and check out the stats after the game. The 72-57 win over Richmond is a good margin and actually an easy cover, but from the looks of things this wasn't nearly that comfortable of a win.
The 19 turnovers are a terrifying amount for a team with NCAA aspirations and on the flip side turning Richmond over just 8 times is unacceptable for a team that prides itself on defense. Yeah, Richmond's two best players are their guards who both have plenty of experience handling pressure and I get that, but I still would have expected at least double digits. On the bright side the Gophers overall shot defense was once again outstanding (Richmond shot just 33% from the field and 20% from three) and rebounding (Gophers won, 37-20) were the difference, as well as Minnesota hitting from the field at a 57% clip.
The Gophers head into the Battle 4 Atlantis undefeated at 4-0 and this was the only game they've been remotely tested in. Although they responded nicely, outscoring Richmond by 14 in the second half, and in the process gave the Spiders' their first loss, but it was still against a Richmond team that will probably end up in the middle of the Atlantic 10 whose three wins so far were against terrible terrible horrible teams. I am very impressed with the Gophers' defense and rebounding (rank as the 3rd best defensive team in the country at kenpom) and it's nice to see Tubby shorten the bench and turn Mbakwe loose (9 points & 12 boards) but Duke is going to be a whole new class of opponent. I don't feel real good about this, but I can't say I'd be completely shocked if they end up pulling this off. Either way I can't wait to read about it the day after.
- Sticking with the Big 10, apparently the latest rumor is Maryland and Rutgers might be joining the conference. Since I don't really care about tradition or any of that stupid stuff and really just want the best possible basketball conference I can get with little to no regard to football, I'm on board with Maryland and would prefer they pass on Rutgers. What I've more recently heard is that if it becomes official that Maryland is joining that Syracuse might try to jump out of the ACC, which it just joined, to come over to the Big 10 instead which is far preferable to Rutgers. I'll have more of a post on this at some point but that's about all I got for now.
- Here's my posts from back in the day the first time I took in a Utah State game and the first time I visited Weber State.
- With the first slate of tournaments done here are some observations and notes to pay attention to because I know more than you.
- Oklahoma State won the Puerto Rico Tip-off and was the most impressive team to me looking at their victories. They struggled to beat Akron in the opener and based on that game I thought the Cowboys looked pretty awful, but after topping the Zips in overtime they ripped off wins over Tennessee (by 17) and NC State (by 20) and announced the LeBryan Nash and Marcus Smart back-court combination as one of the best in the country. Nash is unstoppable when he posts up another guard because of his size and skill and it now looks like he's got a lot more talent around him than we thought. Looks like a legit team.
- The other team who impressed was Colorado which probably made you think this post was all like pro-Big 12 and stuff because you forgot Colorado was in the Pac-12 now. On their way to winning the Charleston Classic the Buffaloes beat Dayton (meh), Baylor (great win), and Murray State (good win). Colorado looks like it has a budding star in sophomore Askia Booker and with a good amount of returning talent, including post stud Andre Roberson, and a weak Pac-12 the Buffaloes are gonna be at the top of the conference and should be able to secure another bid this year.
- Future Gopher opponent Florida State won the Coaches vs. Cancer classic with wins over St. Joe's (good win) and BYU (very good win). These go a long way towards wiping out that crazy horrendous loss earlier this year to South Alabama. The Seminoles are back to being a really good team and a road win there would be a huge win on the Gophers' March resume.
- Penn State was the only Big 10 team involved at this point and they ended up going to the consolation game in the Puerto Rico game where they were stomped by Akron to finish in sixth place. That's a 1-2 overall record (additional loss to NC State and a win over Providence) and an altogether not very impressive tournament. But what'd you expect from Penn State? I mean really?