2015-2016 opponent preview, Game 5: Minnesota Gophers

I am sitting here looking at the basketball schedule and many things go through my mind as I see the Minnesota Gophers.

  • Minnesota is only about 6 hours away
  • The state of Minnesota is known for Juicy Lucys, and no one here in Omaha has really perfected it
  • The Mavericks played the Gophers pretty close when these two teams met in 2013
  • The Mavericks have 3 players from the state of Minnesota
  • Could this game be on the Big 10 Network?
  • Am I the only one who thinks Richard Pitino is a little overrated?
  • Do we have a shot here?
  • This will be the Gophers first game back after a trip to Puerto Rico
  • UNO Hockey plays Ohio State the same day basketball plays Minnesota, and possibly at the same time?
  • Minnesota has not lost a true home game against a Mid Major team since 2006…they were really bad in 2006-2007
  • Does the internet have enough Minnesota Gophers/Caddyshack memes?

The first thing I want to ask myself when I see this schedule is: Should I make the trip?

As noted above, Minnesota is not a difficult drive unless the weather is not cooperating.  I debate several times a year for a reason to go up to Minneapolis.  While it is only a 6 hour drive, probably less even, it would feel even longer as I would sit in excitement like I am Buddy the Elf impatiently waiting for Christmas.  I would be thinking of that first sweet bite of bliss as I bite into a Jucy Lucy burger, and the idea that the Mavericks could potentially pull off this upset.

This thing is seriously life changing.
This thing is seriously life changing.

A few scheduling conflicts that come to my mind are; the Nebraska-Iowa football game; and the UNO hockey game against Ohio State.  Since the game time of the Mavericks at Minnesota has yet to be posted*, it is tricky to determine if I could make the trip, listen to the football game on the radio during the drive and watch the hockey game from Minnesota or listen to it on the radio on the drive back.  So many burning questions that need to be answered.


Could this game be on the Big 10 Network?*

The last time the Mavericks and Gophers faced off, the game was played on BTN.  My wife and I had a few friends over, for something actually completely unrelated, so I definitely had the game going on in the background.  Turning on the game we thought the game could get ugly, but it was ugly for Minnesota in the beginning.  A friend of mine, who did not and still does not pay attention to the Mavericks, but he is a big college basketball fan (he is a Husker fan, it’s cool).  He was completely impressed with the shooting of the Mavericks.

At first, I thought the game could get out of hand, as Justin Simmons was slowed by injury.  My friend and I were completely surprised by the shooting of Alex Phillips that game.  Every time the Mavericks needed a 3, Phillips showed no fear taking it.  With no prior experience watching the Mavericks, my friend thought Phillips was the star of the team.  Phillips (along with Caleb Steffensmeier and Matt Hagerbaumer) really brought energy and experience off the bench for that Mavericks team.  The Mavericks do not have that same dynamic this season, but hopefully seniors Randy Reed and Tim Smallwood could bring the experience, and new guards Tra-Deon Hollins and JT Gibson can bring the energy.

Marcus Tyus had 11 points and 5 rebounds against the Gophers in 2013-2014
Marcus Tyus had 11 points and 5 rebounds against the Gophers in 2013-2014

I just realized how I got off track here.  Anyway, the game was on BTN, there was drama to that game, could the network pick up the Mavericks-Gophers again for a live broadcast?

*So I looked it up after typing all of this out.  The game time is currently not posted on omavs.com, but the game is listed as a 2 pm start time on ESPN3 on the Gophers’ website.  With that in mind, 2 pm brings up a few different scenarios of stuff to do.  

If DJs Dugout or Dudley’s Pizza could stream the game, this could create a watch party at either place, and create for great pre gaming for the hockey game against Ohio State…nice.  

Or yes, one could drive to Minnesota listening to the Husker game on the radio, go to the basketball game, and then hopefully watch or listen to the hockey game on the radio.  That is a big day.

OR, your significant other could throw a big wrench in your plans and tell you that you have to put up Christmas decorations all day and you have an event with your in-laws because you did something with your family on Thanksgiving.


Do the Mavericks have a chance?

So after checking out what most Big 10 beat writers had to say, almost every single one had Minnesota ranked 11th in the Big 10 in the incredibly worthless “Way too early rankings.”  Much of this is based on the fact that the Gophers had big expectations for 2014-2015, but instead they came in 10th and failed to make the post season.  With that in mind, the Gophers lost their two leading scorers, most of their experience, and they will be a pretty young team this season with 6 freshman and 4 sophomores.  They also have two juniors that transferred into the program but will be sitting out during the 2015-2016 season.

The Gophers do not have much talent in their post game, as the two juniors that are sitting out after transferring are basically a bulk of their talent in the post.  The Gophers do have 6’9″ senior Joey King, who could pose a threat to the Mavericks, but King does play more like a guard with literally half of his field goals made in 2014-2015 being three point field goals.  King only averaged 3 rebounds per game in his junior season, and has only had a total of 11 games with 5 or more rebounds in his entire three year career between Minnesota and Drake.  While King is mostly a threat on offense, and the Gophers lack an inside presence, the Mavericks could feel comfortable with forwards Jake White and Tre’Shawn Thurman to guard King on the outside, as both appear comfortable stepping out and playing defense.

The biggest threat the Gophers have is 6’5″ senior Carlos Morris, who can do a little bit of everything, averaging 11 ppg, 3 rpg, 2 apg, and 2 spg in his junior season while shooting 45% from the field and 36% on threes.  The scariest thing to think about is who the Mavericks will use to guard Morris.  Could Minnesota go with Morris at the 4 with their lack of size?  If so, look to Thurman and/or Randy Reed to try and contain Morris in this one.

While Minnesota had a decent recruiting class and signed two talented point guards, their young guards are going to have to go up against seniors Devin Patterson, Marcus Tyus, and Smallwood; as well as junior Tra-Deon Hollins.  Patterson loves these games against the bigger schools.  A stat that I love to bring up is that in 5 career games against Power 6 teams, Patterson has averaged 16.2 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 4.4 apg, 1.6 spg, and shot 55 % from the field and 35% on threes.  Tyus has shot 52% from the field and 48% on threes in 9 career games against Power 6 teams.

Please note that if these figures seem off as compared to earlier posts (assuming you have actually read any of these posts), it is because I realized I forgot to include Kansas State into those figures earlier.

Not to mention the Mavericks were scaring the crap out of Gopher fans for about 30 minutes of the game the last time these two teams played.  That Maverick team had a little bit of a different look, but actually so do the Gophers with only one player (King) that played in that game.  Patterson and Tyus combined for 26 points, 11 rebounds, and 6 assists in that game.

With the Mavericks having seniors Jake White and Marcus Tyus*, along with freshman JT Gibson, looking to have big games in front of their home state fans, the Mavericks will more than likely be looking to work harder to push on for a win against the Gophers.  Out of the three games the Mavericks have this season against power conference teams, this could be the Mavericks best chance at getting an upset.  I say that without even really getting into Missouri yet.  This is what is making it difficult to pass up a chance to make the drive to see the Mavericks take on Minnesota.

Mav freshman was the 2014-2015 Minnesota Gatorade Player of the Year for basketball
Mav freshman was the 2014-2015 Minnesota Gatorade Player of the Year for basketball

I just realized that I am not even 100% sure that Marcus Tyus will be back and ready at this point.  I just kind of assumed, because there was actually (minimal) debate of him playing in Italy.

I am not saying it is a guarantee that the Mavericks will win this game.  I am not Paul Finebaum claiming that the SEC football teams will go 56-0 in non-conference play because God spent days 8 to 13 creating what we now know as SEC football.  I am saying the game should at least be entertaining, and that the Mavericks do have a chance to win this game if they play big.  Seriously though, imagine how crazy the UNO Maverick Maniacs would be at a Ohio State-Omaha hockey game hours after a Omaha win at Minnesota.  We are talking villagers storming Dr. Frankenstein’s house crazy.

 

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