1. Score In The Paint
Minnesota comes into Big Ten play 11-2 against a banged up Michigan Wolverines squad that just lost their All-American center Mitch McGary after recently opting to have back surgery. This puts a void down low for the national runner ups, but they have some quality guys that can step in with Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford. While both are pretty good defenders, neither are superb scorers by any means and will not be getting those double doubles that McGary would get them. Gopher big men, Mo Walker and Elliott Eliason will need to go strong to the rim and make their presence felt. We will see if they can exert themselves in this game as well as if the Gopher guards can penetrate in the lane.
2. Create Turnovers
Michigan lost the best player in college basketball in Trey Burke, who plays for the Utah Jazz now. What made this team so dangerous last season was his abillity to score, but really find the open shooter against the defense. However, the young Wolverines are going through really pains and their backcourt features sophomore Spike Albrecht and freshman Derrick Walton. While both are good ball handlers, they haven't really faced a pressure team like Minnesota yet. The Gophers will look to create turnovers and really frustrate this Wolverine backcourt. Minnesota's veteran guards in Andre Hollins and Austin Hollins will be swarming along with Deandre Mathieu to press the issue and the tempo all game long.
3. Don't Let Stauskas Beat You
Michigan has played one of the hardest schedules in the country with a young team that lost two starters in Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. to the pros. Not to mention like it was noted above, McGary will not be playing this season, so someone is needed to step in the scoring department for the Wolverines. Sophomore Canadian sharp shooter Nik Stauskas has taken the scoring reins for this team and leads the team by averaging 18.2 points per game. He has displayed this year that he can drive to the basket and finish, which wasn't his strong suit previously. However, when Michigan played Duke, the Blue Devils shut down Stauskas, who only had 4 points on 34 minutes of game action. This was his worst offensive performance all season, but the Gophers will try to shut down the Michigan's swiss Army knife weapon in Nik Stauskas.
PredictionThe Gophers are undefeated at home this season with their biggest win at The Barn coming against a talented Florida State squad. Despite Michigan being 8-4, they will be looking to prove they still have enough talent to be able to compete in a very tough Big Ten conference once again. I see Michigan shooting a ton of threes and I feel a lot of those threes will not come from Stauskas as Minnesota will be on him like glue. I do think the young Wolverine backcourt will take care of the ball for the most part, but have some costly turnovers in the final few minutes of a close game to give Richard Pitino his first Big Ten win of his Golden Gopher career in a 71-67 Minnesota victory.