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Preview and Thread: Hogs Take On Minnesota

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A big game at Bud Walton this weekend.

NCAA Basketball: Arkansas at Minnesota Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Last year the Hogs got ran out of the building in Minnesota, this week they’ll want to exact a bit of revenge against the Gophers. The Hogs are coming off a good performance from their bench, while the Gophers just dropped a game on the road against Nebraska. Possibly a sign the Minnesota will struggle on the road?

More On the Gophers

Minnesota comes in 8-2 and started the season looking like very strong contenders in the Big Ten. They got a road win over a good Providence team and dispatched all their mid major opponents with ease. Then came the game against Alabama where the tide had to finish the game with just three players. Alabama outscored the Gophers during that time, nearly completed the comeback and it just hasn’t been the same since.

They lost at home to Miami to follow that, then eased past a poor Rutgers team before losing on the road to Nebraska. After their 6-0 start where everything was running smoothly, they’ve since not looked like the same team.

Projected Starters

Last game against Colorado State felt like the game Daniel Gafford would take over the starting role. Plus the combo of Thomas and Gafford has worked really well together. Minnesota will aim to get big men in foul trouble, if this is Gafford’s first start, it will be a tough task.

Jordan Murphy and Nate Mason are two do everything guys for the Gophers, Murphy is literally one point shy of averaging 20 points per game and gets nearly 13 rebounds as well. Mason runs the show at point guard averaging over 15 points and 4 assists per game.

3 Key Stats

The two sides are almost identical in defensive efficiency numbers, but they do it in very different ways. While Arkansas wants to force turnovers and rushed shots, Minnesota is elite at protecting the paint. They are 14th in the nation in opponents 2pt fg%. They’re also sixth in the nation in block percentage, led by Reggie Lynch who has an incredible 45 blocks in 10 games.

Another big difference is that Minnesota does not like to go deep into their bench. They are in the bottom third of D1 when it comes to bench minutes. There are 200 minutes to spread in a college game (40 minutes times 5 players) and Minnesota only gives 60 of those to bench players. Arkansas will need to draw fouls and push the tempo in this one to get the advantage. If not Lynch will be an anchor in the middle of defense and their offense will attack the Hogs.