IU/Minnesota Preview

BLOOMINGTON, Ind.—The Indiana Hoosiers ride a four game winning streak into Williams Arena Wednesday night against a Minnesota team that has struggled of late, losing two of their last three games. The Hoosiers, on the other hand, have won seven of their last eight games, and are currently in a three-way tie for second place in the Big Ten with Michigan State and Wisconsin. Recent history, however, indicates that this trip to Minneapolis will be a tough time for IU.

The Hoosiers have struggled recently in Williams Arena, losing five of their last six games at Minnesota. In fact, last year's 86-81 victory was just the second win for the Hoosiers in Williams Arena since 1994, although all of Minnesota's wins from the 1993-94 season through 1997-98 have been vacated due to NCAA violations under former coach Clem Haskins. This is the first season in Coach Dan Monson's tenure that Minnesota has had a full compliment of scholarships with no NCAA restrictions or penalties. The Golden Gophers are 11-3 at home this season, with a 13-5 overall record and 3-2 in the Big Ten, placing them in a tie with Michigan for third in the Big Ten.

The Hoosiers, 9-7 overall and 4-1 in the Big Ten, have been playing their best basketball lately, with the inside-outside threat of freshman big man D.J. White and junior swingman Bracey Wright. Wright leads the Big Ten in scoring at 19.1 ppg, while D.J. White is fifth in the Big Ten in field goal percentage at .588 and is averaging 13.0 ppg. Over the last four games, White and Wright have averaged a combined 38.0 points and 12.1 rebounds. When combined with the contributions of freshman forward Robert Vaden over the same four games, all IU wins, the three have combined to score 71 percent of the team's points (49.3 out of 69.5 ppg).

The Golden Gophers are led by 6'5" junior swingman Vincent Grier at 16.5 ppg, good for fifth in the Big Ten, and 7'0" senior center Jeff Hagen at 11.7 ppg, who is also second in the Big Ten in blocks per game at 3.2 per contest. These two are the only Minnesota players averaging double-digit points per game however, and the Gophers rely heavily on role players, with five other players averaging over 5.5 points per contest.

Minnesota is a quick team, relying on a fast pace and turnovers to get their edge. The Gophers are averaging almost 13 more points per game than the Hoosiers, and they lead the Big Ten in steals. The Gophers are also second in the Big Ten in blocks per game, but they have allowed opponents to hit 40 percent from beyond the arch, which would seem to bode well for IU, considering the Hoosiers, over the last three games, have shot 41 percent (23 of 56) from long range, including a 9-22 performance on the road against rival Purdue.

The biggest reason for the turnaround for Minnesota this year compared to last year is turnover. Not during the games, but with the program. After last year's disappointing season, several Gophers transferred or left, leaving only one returning starter and 11 newcomers on the squad. Despite all the turnover in personnel, the new players have gelled quickly and are playing much more as a team than previous Minnesota squads. They do turn the ball over more than they should, but those turnovers are overcome through steals on the defensive end.

The match-up will be the 145th meeting between the two schools, with the Hoosiers holding an 84-60 advantage. IU is 30-42 overall at Minnesota, and the Hoosiers have won three of the last five games against the Gophers. Tip-off is scheduled for 9 p.m. EST, and the game will be broadcast as part of the ESPN+ network. As always, the game will be on the IU radio network with the great Don Fischer doing play-by-play and former IU guard Todd Leary on color commentary. With Illinois playing at Wisconsin on Tuesday night, a win for the Hoosiers could put them in either smaller company at second in the Big Ten, or in a tie for first if the Badgers win.

Peegs.com Top Stories