Iowa vs Minnesota: Preview + Game Thread

By RossWB on January 30, 2018 at 4:25 pm
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© Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports


WHO: Minnesota Golden Gophers (14-9, 3-7 B1G) | KenPom #84
WHEN: 8:05 PM CT
WHERE: Carver-Hawkeye Arena (Iowa City, IA)
RADIO: Learfield Sports affiliates
VEGAS: Iowa -4.5

Are you ready for some points? You should probably get ready for some points. Tonight's game between Iowa and Minnesota is set to feature the two worst defenses in the Big Ten. Minnesota is 13th in the league in defensive efficiency and 115th in the nation (101.4). Iowa is dead last in the league in defensive efficiency and

[checks stats]
[does a double take]
[checks stats again]

236th in the nation in defensive efficiency (107.5). That is very very very bad. That's the lowest from a major conference team by a wide margin (California is next-lowest, at 187th in defensive efficiency), unless you consider the American Athletic Conference a major conference (South Florida, an AAC team, ranks 300th in defensive efficiency). But I digress: Iowa's defense is catastrophically bad. Which you assuredly already know if you've taken the time to watch a few Iowa games this year. 

The good news for Iowa is that Minnesota is not a very good team, either. They're 3-7 in league play and they've lost six of their last seven games in Big Ten competition, which includes getting bulldozed by some very good teams (Purdue, Ohio State) and also losing to some decent teams (Maryland), as well as getting swept by a not-good team (Northwestern). As noted, the Gophers rank just 115th in the nation in deefnsive efficiency and they're allowing teams to shoot 35.9% from 3-point range (224th nationally). They're also not much for forcing turnovers (16.6% possessions, 297th nationally; steals on 7.7% of possessions, 251st nationally), which should be music to Iowa's ears. 

Minnesota ranks 77th in the nation in offensive efficiency, but the good things they do on offense don't really include shooting the ball. They're good at avoiding turnovers (they turn the ball over on just 16% of possessions, 28th best nationally), hauling in free throws (32.1% offensive rebound rate), and getting to the free throw line (82nd nationally in free throw rate). But they're draining just 35.1% of their 3s (154th nationally) and a miserably 48% of their 2s (242nd nationally), which is contributing to an effective FG% of 49.4 (223rd nationally). Of course, we've seen plenty of moribund offenses be resuscitated by playing the Iowa defense, so we shouldn't get too excited.

The key players on this Gopher team include several familiar faces: Jordan Murphy, Nate Mason, Amir Coffey. Murphy, a 6-6 forward, is leading the team in scoring (17.6 ppg) and rebounding (11.7 rpg), while posting a 53.4% eFG. His battle with Tyler Cook will be one of the best to watch all night. Nate Mason, their 6-2 senior point guard, is second on the team in scoring (15.8 ppg) and leading the team in assists (4.5 apg), while putting up a 50.4% eFG. Mason is Minnesota's best 3-point threat (41% from deep), but he's making just 39% of his 2-point attempts. His matchup with Jordan Bohannon will be another key battle in this game. Amir Coffey, a 6-8 wing, is third on the team in scoring (14.0 ppg), while also hauling in 4.1 rpg and 3.3 apg. Dupree McBrayer, a 6-5 wing, has been playing heavy minutes lately and he's averaging 10.3 ppg and 2.4 rpg. 

Which Iowa team do we get tonight? If it's the one that took the floor against Wisconsin last week, they should have an excellent chance to pick up their third Big Ten win because this is a very beatable Minnesota team. But if it's the Iowa team that took the floor against Nebraska (or in most of Iowa's other Big Ten games), well, we've seen that script before. It stinks. 

The usual rules apply. 

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