The Iowa Hawkeyes (16-9, 5-7) are eyeing a tournament berth, but likely need to topple the Minnesota Golden Gophers (18-7, 6-6) to get there. They'll try to avenge a 62-59 loss in Minneapolis two weeks ago when these rivals go at it again on Sunday at 1:06pm CT. The Big Ten Network will carry this game. (Photo: Hannah Foslien / Associated Press)
Tyler Ulis of Marian Catholic (Ill.) is expected to take in Sunday's game. The 2014 point guard teamed with 2013 Gopher commits Alvin Ellis and Alex Foster for Meanstreets.
Game Preview: rv/rv Minnesota (18-7, 6-6) at Iowa (16-9, 5-7) 2/17/13
Iowa swept Minnesota a season ago and the Gophers look to do the same to the Hawkeyes this year. Minnesota won two weeks ago at Williams Arena, but now must try to win on the road.
Iowa owns a 5-7 conference record, but will likely be favored in four of their final six games. They’re underdogs against the Gophers and will also be picked to lose at Indiana. If Fran McCaffery’s team can manage to win five of six to finish 10-8 they should be in the discussion for an NCAA tournament berth.
While the Gophers are 1.5 point favorites to win on Sunday, they’ve lost four in a row against the spread in Vegas and most projection models.
The Hawkeyes look set for an NCAA tournament appearance in 2013-14, but head coach Fran McCaffery would love to get his team there this year. Last summer he signed a new deal under which he’d receive a one-time $150,000 bonus for dancing in 2012-13. In addition, the first time McCaffery’s Hawks receive a tourney bid during the term of his contract his guaranteed pay will increase $200,000 per year for the remaining years.
Minnesota’s big win against Wisconsin improved their conference record to 6-6 and helped bolster their already solid tournament resume. Nonetheless, they’re at least two games behind the five teams ahead of them in the standings. With a loss Sunday, the Gophers could find themselves in a three-way tie for sixth place in the Big Ten with Iowa and Illinois.
After Sunday, Minnesota travels to Ohio State this week before hosting Indiana on February 26. That’s a difficult three game stretch, but they will be favorites in the final three on their schedule (Penn St., at Nebraska, at Purdue).
STARTERS COME THROUGH AGAIN
Minnesota’s starting five finished things out in fine fashion Thursday evening. The Gophers were able to get a quality victory against Wisconsin, winning 58-53 in overtime.
The starting five was reunited on the floor with 2:31 remaining in the first half and Minnesota losing by 8. The Gophers would outscore the Badgers 6-0 to end the half down 24-22.
In the second half, coach Tubby Smith put in all five starters together with 5:08 to play and his team trailing 49-43. They responded by scoring the final six points of regulation.
Smith kept his starters in for the full extra period and they rewarded him with a five-point overtime win.
Wisconsin outrebounded the Gophers, but were held to a season low 36.4% effective field goal percentage (eFG%).
LAST TIME, THIS TIME
It took some late game heroics, but Minnesota beat Iowa 62-59 two weeks ago. It came down to shooting then and it likely will again on Sunday.
Minnesota made their 2-point shots (18/33 for 54.5%, including 6/6 from Joe Coleman) while Iowa couldn’t make anything. For the game, the Gophers had the eFG% advantage 49.0% to 42.2% and this was the deciding factor.
Devyn Marble had 0 points for the first time since he was a freshman and didn’t attempt a 2-point field goal all game (his previous season low was 3 attempts). He struggled in the Hawkeyes’ following game at Wisconsin (1/10 FG, 2 points), but in his last two games the junior scored 21 and 22 points, respectively.
Iowa has many players who can score (their bench outscored Minnesota 27-0), but Marble will come out hungry.
If the Gophers can shoot 2-point field goals as well as they did last time against the Hawks, they should be in good shape.
Minnesota turned it over 12 times (8 steals against and 15 points off of turnovers for Iowa) compared to Iowa’s 10 (7 steals against, 17 points off of turnovers for Minnesota).
For the Gophers that’s not a bad night. However, they can’t let turnovers beat them in Iowa City.
Iowa can be solid on both sides of the glass and they were against Minnesota. The Hawkeyes had a better OR% than Minnesota (43% vs. 41%).
Total Big Ten figures show Minnesota has a huge edge over their opponents, holding a 42% to 32% advantage on the offensive glass. However the dramatic difference is a result of them demolishing Nebraska and Northwestern (twice), a couple of poor rebounding teams. The Gophers have been outrebounded (OR%) in five of their 12 conference games.
Minnesota got to the line 21 times compared to 17 for Iowa. The Gophers drew 21 fouls on Iowa while getting called for just 15. On the road, this may be difficult to repeat.
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Tag(s): Gopher Basketball