IOWA HAWKEYES vs.
MINNESOTA GOLDEN GOPHERS
|TIME||7:00 pm CT|
|WHERE||Williams Arena, St. Paul|
|TV||Big Ten Network|
|STREAM||Fox Sports Live|
TALE OF THE TAPE
|119.5 (1st)||OFF. EFF.||108.9 (47th)|
|94.4 (61st)||DEF. EFF.||93.3 (49th)|
|57.4 (16th)||eFG%||48.2 (207th)|
We all get to cap off our Christmas nights with some Hawkeye hoops, as Iowa faces its first true road game of the year at Minnesota Friday night. Tip is set for 7:00 on BTN, with Dave Revsine and Robbie Hummel on commentary.
The Gophers are 7-1, but that schedule is a bit light on quality. Except for an 8-point win over St. Louis earlier this week, Minnesota has only played non-conference teams ranked in the triple digits on Kenpom. Their one conference game so far, a 27-point drubbing at Illinois, didn't tell us much, either. Kofi Cockburn got the Gopher big men in foul trouble and went nuts, scoring 33 and rebounding 13.
We don't even know much about the roster. Daniel Oturu is gone, replaced by seven-foot Drake transfer Liam Robbins. He's averaging 12.5 points, 7 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game so far. Robbins was second-team all-Missouri Valley last season in Des Moines, but at seven-foot and just 235 pounds, he doesn't have the sort of heft that Oturu, Cockburn or Garza can throw around. The other frontcourt position has been shared between Western Michigan grad transfer Brandon Johnson (6'8", 220, 6.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg) and sophomore Isaiah Ihnen (6'9", 220, 3.6/4.5). Johnson missed a game against UMKC a couple of weeks ago with an ankle injury, and has played limited minutes in the two games since. Neither has been particularly productive.
Point guard Marcus Carr (6'2", 195) has emerged as a potential all-Big Ten player. The Pitt transfer leads the Gophers in scoring (23.9 ppg) and assists (6.0 apg), and is shooting 37% from three. That's good enough to place him tenth in Kenpom's Player of the Year list so far this season. He's not quite a Jalen Suggs-level problem, but he's a problem to be sure. Carr knocks down a couple of threes a game, but his main line of attack is the dribble drive, and he draws fouls like a magnet: The 7.4 fouls he draws per 40 minutes is right there with Garza, Cockburn and Trayce Jackson-Davis among the Big Ten's best. He's shooting almost nine free throws per game. That makes scoring pretty easy.
Carr is joined in the backcourt by junior Gabe Kalscheur (6'4", 200, 9.5/1.8/1.8) and Utah transfer Both Gach (6'6", 185, 13.0/6.0/3.4). Kalscheur has struggled to find his form from deep this year, dripping from a 41% rate behind the arc two years ago to 34% last year to just 20% so far this season. Gach has had no such problem, making 40% from three on a relatively small sample size.
It's a Richard Pitino team, but if you squint and tilt your head a bit, it looks a lot like what we'd usually see from Rick. The Gophers don't shoot that well, but they've got a do-it-all ball-dominant guard who gets to the free throw line at a ridiculous rate, a shot blocker at the rim to prevent you from doing the same, and a wing who can fill it up if you don't pay attention. Illinois showed that this group probably isn't of the same vintage as the elder Pitino's best squads, but this team certainly has enough to give a potentially-unfocused Iowa trouble in The Barn on Christmas night.