The Minnesota Golden Gophers weren't expected to be competitors this season when Trevor Mbakwe went down due to injury early in the year, but the team has been sticking with quite a few teams as the seasons rolls on. They have another big test on Thursday, though, as they host the Wisconsin Badgers in a Big Ten conference contest.
The Gophers game will be televised nationally on ESPN and, if the Gophers are able to follow The Daily Gopher's keys to the game, they should have a chance to win.
Defensively the Gopher's #1 priority is going to be getting out to the three-point line. Wisconsin gets 35% of their points from behind the arc which is 32nd in the country. As a point of reference the Gophers score only 22.4% of our points from three, ranking near the bottom of D1 basketball. But if we can get out and guard the three that might take the Badgers out of their offensive rhythm, allowing us to stay in the game.
The other key to the game, I think, will be rebounding. Wisconsin hasn't been hitting the offensive glass at a super high rate this year. Ralph and Rodney and the guards need to make sure that trend continues by ending possessions with a rebound. Keep offensive rebounds down, we will lose if we give them a number of second chances.
The scoring likely won't be high and the pace might not be exciting, but a victory on national television certainly wouldn't hurt the Gophers' postseason opportunities.
For more on the Minnesota Golden Gophers, check out The Daily Gopher. You can also head over to SB Nation's main NCAA Basketball hub at SBNation.com/NCAA-Basketball.