The Razorbacks’ awful loss against Houston left them with less of a margin for error. At this point it is less about whether the Hogs get into the tournament, and more about how much their non-conference schedule helps with seeding. The win over Oklahoma was nice, but the Sooners are picked to finish in the middle of the Big 12. The Hogs just blew their chance at a quality true road win, so they’ll have to settle for a home win over a ranked team.
The Golden Gophers (8-2) reached the Dance as a 6-seed last year and promptly lost to Middle Tennessee. This year, they’re picked in the 5/6-seed range, so this would be the Hogs’ best win of the season so far.
- Minnesota 3-point shooting vs. Arkansas 3-point defense
- Minnesota 2-point defense vs. Arkansas 2-point shooting
- Arkansas 3-point shooting vs. Minnesota 3-point defense
- Arkansas turnovers vs. Minnesota forcing turnovers
So the Gophers should hit 3’s and protect the rim, while Arkansas should hit 3’s and avoid turnovers. Other than that, the teams are even, and when the game comes down to jump shots, it almost always favors the home team.
When Minnesota has the rock
|Points per Possession||0.95 (99th)||1.13 (30th)||Push|
|True Shooting||1.07 (144th)||1.12 (109th)||Push|
|Points per 2FGA||0.96 (125th)||1.03 (130th)||Push|
|Points per 3FGA||1.06 (194th)||1.12 (37th)||Minnesota|
|Effective Possession Ratio||0.90 (60th)||1.01 (6th)||Push|
|Rebound %||25.6% (134th)||34.8% (27th)||Minnesota|
|Turnover %||20.9% (78th)||15.2% (22nd)||Push|
NOTE: Read up on the per-possessions stats system I use if you haven’t already; you’ll get confused without it.
The Gophers play at a slow, deliberate pace and try to control possessions. They’re 6th in EPR, which allows them to make up for not being a great shooting team. They’re very physical, something that hurt the Hogs in both losses.
Minnesota individual stats
Six-foot-six forward Jordan Murphy averages a double-double (19 points, 12 rebounds) and will probably be the main offensive guy to watch, assuming the Gophers don’t get hot from downtown. Center Reggie Lynch, who is 6-foot-10, is shooting 61 percent from the floor and leads the team in True Shooting and overall Points per Possession. Guards Nate Mason and Amir Coffey are serviceable. The Gophers don’t have a reliable fifth option, as guards Dupree McBrayer and Isaiah Washington (5th and 6th on the team in minutes played) are not very efficient at all.
The main defensive key for the Hogs will be not allowing Minnesota to win with its inside-outside halfcourt game. The Hogs can’t let the Gopher forwards bowl them over inside, but they can’t all collapse and give up open looks from 3. Denying easy baskets and forcing these guards to create looks is probably the best option.
When Arkansas has the rock
|Points per Possession||1.11 (37th)||0.93 (76th)||Push|
|True Shooting||1.16 (52nd)||1.00 (56th)||Push|
|Points per 2FGA||1.04 (104th)||0.83 (14th)||Minnesota|
|Points per 3FGA||1.20 (43rd)||1.07 (261st)||Arkansas|
|Effective Possession Ratio||0.96 (73rd)||0.93 (190th)||Arkansas|
|Rebound %||26.2% (187th)||24.8% (116th)||Push|
|Turnover %||14.7% (16th)||18.2% (198th)||Arkansas|
The Hogs could certainly get hot from beyond the arc against the Gophers’ 261st-ranked three-point defense. Overall, these stats suggest a guard-heavy game for Arkansas, as Minnesota plays great defense at the rim.
Arkansas individual stats
This would be a nice game for C.J. Jones to break out offensively. He’s tortured weak competition, but dropping 15+ points against Minnesota would really be a step forward for him. Daryl Macon and Jaylen Barford had rough outings against Houston and then got the team out to a slow start against Colorado State, so I’m interested to see how the they play in the first five minutes. For Daniel Gafford, the primary key is avoiding foul trouble and securing defensive rebounds against the Gophers’ very good offensive rebounders.
Keys to the game
- Great guards. Minnesota has talented bigs - for both offense and defense - so the Hogs need to turn into a guard-oriented game. Offensively, the Hogs need to hit 3-pointers, and the ballhandlers need to create open looks for themselves. Minnesota doesn’t force many turnovers, so the Hogs can give them gifts by being careless. Defensively, the Hogs need to deny easy looks for the Gopher bigs and force their guards to create some looks for themselves.
- Don’t get outphysicaled at the rim. Minnesota wants to keep Arkansas bigs in foul trouble by getting the ball inside and drawing fouls. Gafford, Thomas, and others need to play good low-post defense without resorting to fouling.