Before I begin the riveting content, let me introduce myself. A few points that may increase my legitimacy in your minds:
1. I am Daniel’s brother.
2. I played high school basketball with the current NDSU Bison QB.
3. I am a graduate of the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities.
4. I once dunked a women’s basketball.
5. I have met Tubby Smith and I know Flip Saunders’ son.
Enough of that. The important matter is that complete madness is at hand. Being a Gopher graduate, I’m excited they’re in it. They face a Texas squad that was at one time ranked #5 in the country, but had a similarly embarrassing 2nd half of the season to that of the Gophers. A look at that match-up:
Besides the fact that they represent two of the largest universities in the country, they are pretty much statistical siblings. However, the statistic I found most interesting is one in which the teams are quite different. In games decided by <6 points the Gophers are 5-2, while the Hook ‘Em Up Horns are a sheepish 4-5.
Here are some other key points to the game:
1. Key to a Gopher Win: Control the Tempo. The Big 10 is a very different brand of basketball than…well…everybody else. If this turns into a track meet, the Gophers will lose. They rely on defensive pressure, which is why they have an 11-man rotation.
2. Key Player for the Gophers: Lawrence Westbrook. Predictable, you might say. Sure, it’s predictable, he is Minnesota’s leading scorer. Why is he so valuable?? Because when he scores more than 13 points, the Gophs are 15-2.
3. X-Factors for Gophs: Damian Johnson and Blake Hoffarber. Damian could be huge because he’s been hot lately and wreaks some serious havoc on defense. Blake…well that’s easy. Just watch this and this.
4. Why the Gophs Could Lose: A.J. Abrams. The kid is a player. If he finds a way to break the pressure and get loose, he could do a lot of damage. I wouldn’t be surprised if Tubby throws up to 4 different guys at him.
5. How Far will the Gophers Get?: 2nd round. I say that only because I haven’t let myself think this far ahead, because it could be a meeting of Duke and Minnesota, my two favorite teams. If that happens I’ll know how it feels for Papa Manning to watch Peyton vs. Eli.
Prediction: Minnesota 67, Texas 61.
It’s Tubby Time!!