PG. Nate Mason vs Tyrik Dixon. Nate Mason is an All Big Ten player while Tyrik Dixon is a tough as nails freshman competitor. The Gophers have the edge with Nate’s ability to playmake at all levels but Dixon is a very good defender and matured beyond his years. Dixon shoots very little but he will make open threes when he has space. Similar sized players. Edge: Minnesota.
SG. Dupree McBrayer vs Giddy Potts. I’m not sure who will defend Potts, could be Amir or Dupree. But I’m quite sure that Potts will have the defensive assignment that concerns Coach Kermit Davis less. Potts is the explosive scorer from the perimeter for MT. He’s a near 40 percent three point shooter, a near 50 percent field goal shooter and he will take the most shots for this team’s backcourt. Dupree is a solid double figure scorer but he can get wild. Potts has big game experience, is the better defender, and is the clutch shot maker. Edge: Middle Tennessee.
SF. Amir Coffey vs Ed Simpson. Simpson is the role playing junior who fits the “worker” role. He defends hard, rarely makes mistakes on offense, and is counted on to make few mistakes. His value is bigger than his numbers. That said Amir has five inches on him and Amir is a way better playmaker. Coffey can take an extra step off Simpson too to help as Simpson rarely shoots and rarely makes (37 percent field goal shooter). Edge: Minnesota.
PF. Jordan Murphy vs Reggie Upshaw. This is the key match-up of the game. Why? When Upshaw or Murphy have played bad, their teams have played bad. Jordan is a double-double recording machine with his 11 and 9 a game while Upshaw gets 15 and 7 a night and leads the team in minutes. When Middle Tennessee has lost, Regan has been bad. Upshaw is bigger and more skilled on the perimeter, Murphy is more physical, more explosive, and the better player around the block. If one gets in foul trouble or has a bad day their team could be in trouble. Edge: Push.
C. JaCorey Williams vs Reggie Lynch. The CUSA Player of the Year vs the Big Ten Player of the Year. Both low post players that will do little to nothing at the arc. Reggie is taller, longer, and has a 25 pound muscle edge on Williams. JaCorey put up 17 and 7 a game shooting 54 percent while Lynch is a 9 and 6 guy who led the Big Ten in blocks. Lynch will even out this match-up if he can stay out of foul trouble which he’s done a better job of lately. Edge: Push.
6th. Eric Curry vs Xavier Habersham. This is kind of a random name throughout. Curry will be Minnesota’s 6th man while Habersham is Middle Tennessee’s best score off the bench. Curry is a four man where as Habersham is a wing. They will not face each other but the Blue Raiders don’t use a four off the bench as they start two of them and the Gophers don’t really have a wing off the bench. Both are impact guys but Habersham is playing better right now. Edge: Middle Tennessee.
Bench Big. Bakary Konate vs Brandon Walters. Similar size in height and length but Walters is way heavier. Walters is the better offensive player and more skilled post up scorer. Konate is the better defender. Walters will play more and is simply better. Edge: Middle Tennessee.
Bench Wing. Aldonis Foote vs Michael Hurt. Very similar roles although Foote plays a bit more. Foote has the experience edge being a senior but their impact and role are similar. Nobody has a real edge here. Edge: Push.
Bench Guard. Antwain Johnson vs Stephon Sharp. Johnson plays every game, Sharp likely won’t play and hasn’t played. Ahmad Gilbert will not be playing (or I would be shocked if he did) so if the Gophers need a guard minute or two they can go to Sharp who is dependable. But Johnson is a regular for the Blue Raiders. Edge: Middle Tennessee.
As you can tell Middle Tennessee has the edge of the bench. Minnesota has the more talented starters. I think that Upshaw/Murphy match-up is huge. If one has a bad game I think that team will lose. Gophers have a big edge in that Lynch is a defender that Williams has not seen the likes of and Mason is going against a freshman PG. I think Minnesota wins by 6.
Minnesota 76 Middle Tennessee 70.