How good is Minnesota Basketball?

minnesota basketball

 

The Minnesota Golden Gophers are currently 12-1 this season and are tied with Illinois for the second best record in the Big Ten Conference.

They have proven that they are a good basketball team, but the real question is how good is Minnesota Basketball this season?

The Minnesota Golden Gophers are probably the most underrated team in the Big Ten.  They are currently ranked 11th in the nation due to the fact that they only have one loss.  However, there are currently five one-loss teams ranked higher than them and one two-loss team, which is The Ohio State Buckeyes.  The Gophers so far have not had a very difficult schedule.  They have played only one-ranked team so far which is the Duke Blue Devils, who are currently ranked #1 in the nation.  The game against Duke however, was their only loss.

Although their schedule has not been the most challenging, they have beaten their opponents very handily.  Because of this, it is hard to determine how good they really are. They are fairly ranked as of now, however, they will be really tested when they begin their conference play.  They will consistently play high ranked opponents as six teams in the Big Ten are currently ranked in the top 20.

One of the major reasons why they are so good is their consistency.  They have four players that average double figures per game.  They also all shoot with a high shooting percentage.  They play team basketball, pass the ball really well, and take smart shots.    Their starting lineup consists of two seniors, two sophomores, and a junior, so they do not lack experience. This should help them in big games and at the end of the season.

Their leading scorer is #33 Rodney Williams. Williams is a 6-foot-7 senior who averages 13 points per game.  His shooting percentage almost reaches 60 percent.  His outside shooting has shown development and he is extraordinary at attacking the rim. Therefore he makes for a very exciting player to watch.

Trevor Mbakwe, who many people thought would be one of the best players of the Big Ten this season, has not done as well as was Trevor Mbakwe, Noah Dahlmanpredicted. Last season, before he had his season ending injury, he averaged 14 points per game and this season he is only averaging eight.  His numbers in every other category have declined from last season as well. The team as a whole has been a lot more successful so this could be the reason for his declining numbers.  Or his injury from last season could still be impacting his ability. Whatever the case may be; Trevor Mbakwe will need to become a larger contributor if Minnesota wishes to continue their success during Big Ten Play.

Minnesota could be the most underrated team in the Big Ten because they have so much experience and are a very talented team. Their talent shines when they play well together as a team, which is often.  Minnesota could be the team this year that surprises everyone, and upsets the top seeded teams such as Michigan, and Indiana.  They have the potential to win the Big Ten Championship, and make it very far in the NCAA tournament.

Their next game is a big one.  Minnesota will take on Michigan State at home this Monday.  The Spartans are currently ranked 19th and are coming off of a much needed win against Texas.  During that game, big man Derrick Nix had an outrageous 25-point game so the Gophers will need to stop him from scoring. They will need Trevor Mbakwe to have a big night. This is a big game for both teams, as they both need a win against a ranked opponent; it is also the start of the Big Ten season.

Watch out for the Gophers this season. They just may surprise people.

  • slynke

    Great article. I’m also trying to figure out how good this team is. It won’t take long into the Big Ten season to find out with the schedule going MState, Northwestern, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan as the first 5 games. Right now I *optimistically* see the Gophs finishing second or third in the Big Ten.

    I think that you are being too hard on Mbakwe. Tubby has been playing it safe with his minutes and I think it was a good idea based on his lack of explosion at the beginning of the season. If you look at his last 5 games you will see that his points per minute and rebounds per minute are actually up over last season. Of course you have to consider the competition the last 5 games, but I do think that it is a better sample of Mbakwe than the entire season so far since he was so limited at the beginning of the year.

    • http://www.facebook.com/matt.arvin.3 Matt Arvin

      Yeah it will be easy to tell early on how good they really are. Mbakwe played really well against Michigan State so maybe I am being a little to hard on him. I still think that his success is crucial for Minnesota’s success in the Big Ten. The Big Ten is a very physical conference so they will need him to play well.

  • Birdieman

    Nice concept, but digging deeper they will need a few things to happen. True, Mbakwe will need to improve–but when you think about it, he’s only played 19 minutes/game thus far! As his PT increases, he’ll be a monster down low. The most significant improvement from last year’s NIT Championship team is the backcourt. Dre and Austin Hollins, along w/Coleman and Ahanmisi off the bench have stepped up big time both scoring (i.e. 41pts. Dre vs. Memphis!) and have really cut down on turnovers (currently less than 15/gm). They do not have a glaring weakness which will make them a formidable foe, and yes, they do have the potential to win the BIG10. The outside shooting has improved, and Williams is now able to knock down the 15 foot jumper. Against some really tough BIG10 opponents, they may need to make more 3-pt fg or teams might be tending to sink down too much on defense and choke up the paint. 13-5 in the BigTen will be a terrific season for 1st or tie 2nd w/Indiana or Mich. Mn has a very difficult first half of conference play, while IND could go 9-0! One good thing for MN is that they play two of the top 6 contending teams only once, while the other contenders have to play 5 of the top 6 contenders twice in the unbalanced schedule. MN has 4 of last 6 games on the road, so its a tough conf. sched. regardless.

    • http://www.facebook.com/matt.arvin.3 Matt Arvin

      You bring up a lot of great points. Any team that plays in the Big Ten has a difficult schedule. After watching how they played against Michigan State two days ago, they look like they could definitely be in the top 3 in the Big Ten.

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