Point Guard. Nate Mason against Jordan Bohannon. A veteran taking on a freshman, albeit a freshman player of the week. Mason will have the edge in experience, home court, and his ability to attack space as he is the quicker player. Bohannon is the better three point shooter and has been playing better than Mason over the past month. That said Mason is still second in the league in assists despite shooting struggles. Edge: Minnesota.
Wing 1. Here you have Gopher senior Akeem Springs against Isaiah Moss, or Peter Jok. Richard Pitino will likely put Springs on Jok. Peter is the Big Ten’s leading scorer but is coming off a back injury. Akeem Springs has been red hot since being inserted into the starting line-up scoring 17 a game and shooting nearly 50 percent from the arc. The Hawks would have the edge if Jok came in fully healthy which based on the Nebraska game he isn’t quite yet. With Akeem playing well, Jok playing hurt, it’s fairly even. Edge: Push.
Wing 2. Amir Coffey versus Isaiah Moss is two freshman going head to head. Coffey is a three time Big Ten player of the week scoring in double figures regularly and he’s a much improved three point shooter. Coffey is one the go to players on Minnesota’s offense. Moss does not have the same role as Coffey playing about 12-13 less minutes but he has been solid. Edge: Minnesota.
The Four. Iowa freshman Tyler Cook has had a great year scoring a dozen a game and being a skilled threat on a regular basis. Minnesota will counter with Jordan Murphy who is struggling greatly plus he will be giving up inches, pounds, and skill to Cook. The way these guys are playing Iowa has a big edge. Edge: Iowa
Center. Reggie Lynch is Minnesota’s shot block and low post scoring threat. The Gophers want to play him 30 plus minutes a game where as Iowa will split time up front. Lynch has the edge on freshman Cordell Pemsl but Lynch is expected to give more to his team. Edge: Minnesota.
Bench Guard. Dupree McBrayer vs Brady Ellinson. Dupree is scoring in double figures and was a starter before being moved to the bench. He is more talented than Brady but Brady is more dependable when you talk about every area on the floor. Brady is shooting the ball better and defending better where as Dupree, while more talented, is not playing as well. Edge: Iowa
Bench Forward. Minnesota gives Eric Curry a lot of time where as Iowa Ahmad Wagner and Dom Uhl playing 15-16 minutes a contest. Neither Wagner or Uhl is having a good year producing with their touch but Wagner defends hard while is a difficult player to score over and he boards well. Eric Curry is younger but he works as hard as both players. The difference, Iowa has two guys to go to. Strength in numbers but Curry is more talented. The Gophers will also use Michael Hurt or Ahmad Gilbert but neither of those players will impact the game like Wagner or Uhl. Edge: Push
Bench Big. Nicholas Baer is the top Iowa rebounder and a skilled player that has been up and down with how he is offensively producing. Minnesota has Bakary Konate off the bench but they don’t want to use him much. Baer will likely see a lot of Curry because he can move with Baer away from the cup. Either way Iowa has a big edge when he comes off the bench. Edge: Iowa.
Final. Minnesota has the edge from the first five because they are older players and Minnesota’s first five plays a lot more. Iowa depends more on the bench and they have the edge there. If Jok was healthy the starting group would be a bit more even. Either way Minnesota may have the worse Big Ten record but the season long numbers show they have a slight edge.
Prediction. I really believe Minnesota will be pumped up and motivated and this is an Iowa team that is young and will be smacked in the face by a wild Williams Arena crowd. I think Minnesota wins by about four scores using their edge of experience and homecourt edge, plus a bit of desperation because Minnesota can not fall to 4-7 right now with a fourth loss at home. Minnesota needs it more and is the more experienced team.
Minnesota 76 Iowa 67.