The No. 5 Michigan Wolverines will host the Minnesota Golden Gophers on Tuesday after suffering their first loss of the season.
Michigan is seeking redemption after losing to Wisconsin on Saturday while Minnesota is hoping to build confidence after a one-point win over Penn State. Here is a preview, and a prediction for this battle between these two teams.
What: No. 5 Michigan (17-1, 6-1) vs. Minnesota (14-4, 4-3)
When: Tuesday, January 22, 7:00 PM on Big Ten Network
Where: Crisler Center, University of Michigan
Keys to Victory for Michigan
Given that this game is being played in Ann Arbor, the arena will undoubtedly give the Wolverines an edge. The crowd will be on their side, and the team will use that energy to generate momentum.
Michigan has the had one of the top defenses in the nation. However, against Wisconsin, this was not the case. To go on another winning streak, the Wolverines must return in the top defensive shape.
As the distributor on offense, Zavier Simpson is the person who has the basketball in his hand for a majority of the time. His playmaking ability to find open teammates will be vital for the desired win. On defense, he causes most havoc for opposing offenses and is never caught taking a quick break on defense. Simpson compensates for his under-sized stature by not backing down from anyone.
In addition to the defense, Michigan also requires that Charles Matthews, Ignas “Iggy” Brazdeikis, and Jordan Poole influence the team on offense. Realistically, if Matthews, Iggy, and Poole score roughly 15-points each, then the offense will be in great shape.
Of these three, Iggy must have a comeback performance especially since he was held scoreless against Wisconsin. He is averaging a team-best 14.8 points-per-game. However, if he cannot score up to his average, then Charles Matthews and Jordan Poole may not be able to handle the offensive workloads which could cost Michigan the game.
Keys to Victory for Minnesota
Scoring off turnovers is the only way Minnesota teams can counter Michigan’s top-notch defense because it enables them to rack up points before the Wolverines can set up their defensive schemes. Therefore, limiting turnovers will secure a Michigan victory.
Minnesota’s standout player is Amir Coffey, who is averaging 15.7 points-per-game this season.
The only way the Golden Gophers can counter the Michigan defense is by having Coffey score well over his season average. He will most likely need to drop at least 20-points.
Additionally, Isaiah Washington is managing Minnesota in assists, with 3.9 assists-per-game. Thus, he must find his teammates and warm them up, so they can have a significant impact on the game.
Therefore, Minnesota’s fate lies on the hand on Amir Coffey and Isaiah Washington. Paired with solid defense from his team, these two can then focus on scoring and passing to give the Golden Gophers a chance at leaving Ann Arbor victorious.
All in all, everything must be perfect for Minnesota to win. Amir Coffey needs to have a career night against the nation’s top defense.
In the end, the Golden Gophers will stay close with the Wolverines until halftime is a few minutes away. From this moment on, Michigan will be locked in and ride their home court advantage for the remainder of the match. Also, after losing their first game of the season, the Wolverines will look to redeem themselves and show their fans they are still the same team that started 17-0.
Final Score: Michigan 64 – Minnesota 52