Three Keys To The Game: Minnesota vs Iowa
Minnesota faces off against Iowa at 1pm this afternoon, where they'll square off with one of the nation's leading scorers. It'll be another tough game in the Big 10 grind, and these are three keys for the Gophers if they hope to come away with a win!
Stepping Up Inside
Eric Curry's status still seems to be uncertain for today's game against Iowa, and even if he does play it seems like he would only play a portion of his usual minutes. Because of this, backup center Charlie Daniels will be taking on a much bigger role. Iowa's starting center averages just under 6 ppg, so it's not like he'll be tasked with guarding a Kofi Cockburn inside, but it will be a bigger responsibility than he's had all season. In the stretches he's played this season, I've liked what Charlie brings to the floor defensively with his strength and explosiveness at his size. Offensively, we'll see what he can do in extended minutes. Danny Ogele brings some more size at 6'7 while freshman Treyton Thompson has plenty of length at 7', but hasn't seen many minutes even in the non-conference schedule this year.
Slowing Down Keegan Murray
Iowa's star sophomore Keegan Murray has been on a tear this season, as he averages 23.9 ppg over 15 games. He has size at 6'8, is a good athlete, and is shooting 59% from the field and 36% from 3P land this season. Iowa starts 6'9, 6'9, and 6'8 most games, so no matter who the Gophers throw on Keegan, they will be severely outmatched in length at another position. I could see Jamison Battle getting the nod on Keegan as he's greatly improved his quickness over the years, and he has the length to keep a hand up and contest against the 6'8 scorer. If he gets going early, maybe the Gophers would look to switch things up. Perhaps Luke Loewe's scrappiness could give him difficulties despite giving up 4 inches? Maybe without Eric Curry to defend inside Minnesota throws in some zone defenses again? We'll see what the coaches have drawn up for this afternoon.
Rivalry Game Energy!
With winter break coming to a close, students should be filing back into their dorms and apartments, and hopefully to Williams Arena for today's rivalry game with Iowa! These fans will be much needed to get the team fired up, and it's on the players to reciprocate that energy on the floor. This is a Minnesota team that's been competitive in Big 10 play this year, but I think they're hungry to improve on their 1-4 conference record. Against their rivals to the south, at home, this is a game where Minnesota should be coming out fired up. Even with the possibly of playing without Eric Curry, this is a game that Minnesota can win, and they need to come out and out-fight Iowa on every possession.