Friday, January 24, 2014

Game Preview: Gophers vs. Cornhuskers

Nebraska is not a great team.  Depending on your definition, they may not even be a good team.  They have, after all, lost six of their last seven games and hold only a win over Miami as anything remotely quality outside of conference play.  Nebraska, however, is certainly not the shitty team we've become accustomed to.  Of their last seven games only two were at home and many were against quality opponents, and the two home games resulted in a win over Ohio State (you can decide how much that is worth right now) and a near win over Michigan (1-pt loss where Nebraska had two chances to win).  This isn't going to be an easy walk over for the Gophers, especially with Andre Hollins almost certainly on the shelf.

On paper the key to this game will be if the Gophers stick to the offensive game plan of dribble penetration and getting the ball to the big guys on the block.  Nebraska really only has one decent interior defender in Leslee Smith (6-8 junior).  Their only other "big" is 6-10 Walter Pitchford, and he's more of one of them perimeter types.  As a result, Nebraska blocks very few shots and their overall interior defense is terrible.  Even with Hollins out, Dre Mathieu should be able to get into the paint for his suddenly unstoppable jumper and both Eliason and Mo Walker should be able find success when they get the ball down low.

Of course, Tim Miles will know this, and Tim Miles is smart, so the real key to the game will be Gopher perimeter shooting.  Nebraska is mainly a man-to-man team, but they played almost exclusively zone against Ohio State and it led to a victory, so I fully expect to see it on Sunday.  On the season the Gophers aren't exactly lighting it up from three at 35.4%, and you take Dre Hollins out of the equation and they're hitting just 34%.  The Gophers will have to hit enough shots to get Nebraska to open up that gooey soft inside.  Malik Smith can't be off, Austin Hollins has to hit at least a couple of shots, and I'm even going to say Maverick (you know he'll get some PT) will have to hit a shot or two.  If Minnesota can hit from the outside this could be a rout, but that's a pretty damn big if.

Nebraska's offense is not very good, but neither is the Gopher defense.  Unless Nebraska gets hot from three, which could happen but isn't particularly likely (although Ray Gallegos is still there, *shudder*), they're going to put up 65ish points.  The Gophers just have to score more, and they'll need some 3-balls to do it.

Gophers 74, Nebraska 65

1 comment:

Richard's dad said...

I sure wish that brunette on the far right came into my diner.