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The Opening Tip: Hawkeyes Play Host to Rival Minnesota

December 8, 2019

Written by Rob Howe

Hawkeye Nation

IOWA CITY, Iowa – Iowa will be looking to tighten up its defense Monday when it plays host to rival Minnesota in its Big Ten home opener. The Hawkeyes are coming off a 103-91 loss at No. 4 Michigan Friday night.

TIME, TV: 7 p.m. CT on BTN with Kevin Kugler and Robbie Hummel on the call.

RECORDS, RANKINGS: Iowa comes in at 6-3, while Minnesota sits at 4-4. Both teams are unranked.

THE COMPUTERS: Sagarin rates Iowa at 41 and Minnesota at 55 as of Sunday afternoon. Ken Pom has the Hawkeyes at 39 and the Golden Gophers at 63.

POINT SPREAD: Iowa was listed as an 6.5-point favorite by Atlantis Reno, Westgate and William Hill Sunday evening.

HISTORY LESSON: Minnesota holds a 106-95 advantage in the series. The 201 meetings are the most Iowa has played against any opponent.

The two teams have split the last 10 contests, dating back to 2013. The Gophers won last year’s lone contest, 92-87, in Minneapolis.

Six of the last eight meetings, dating back to 2014, have been decided by six points or less with another contest decided by 12 points in double overtime.

Iowa holds a 57-41 advantage in games played in Iowa City and a 21-10 advantage at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Iowa has won 12 of the last 17 meetings in Iowa City, including five of the last six.

NEXT: Iowa plays Thursday against Iowa State in Ames.

SCOUTING THE GOPHERS: Minnesota’s losses have come against Butler (No. 13 Ken Pom), Oklahoma (40), DePaul (52) and Utah (102). It’s defeated Clemson (81), Central Michigan (159), North Dakota (244) and Cleveland State (322).

There’s not a lot to go off of there. Monday will be the Gophers’ Big Ten opener. They play host to Ohio State on Sunday.

Minnesota is making its living behind the three-point arc. It’s 9.6 made treys a game ranks 29th nationally and first in the Big Ten. It’s shooting 35.4 percent on 218 attempts, which rates 101st in the country and fourth in the league.

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Some of the perimeter tendencies sprouted from losing experienced big man Eric Curry to a season ending knee injury last month. That left the Gophers thin on the interior.

They have received excellent play from sophomore center Daniel Oturu, whose 17.5 points per game trails only Iowa big man Luka Garza (22.7) among Big Ten players. Oturu leads the league in rebounds (10.9 RPG) and field goal percentage (62.5), and ranks second in blocks (3.4).

Pittsburgh transfer Marcus Carr (6-2, 195) is scoring 14.4 points per outing and leads the team with 6.6 assists a contest, which ranks second in the league. He’s coming off a game against Clemson that saw him score 25 points, hand out nine assists and grab five rebounds.

Sophomore guard Gabe Kalscheur (6-4, 200) is scoring 12.1 point per game aided by 2.8 treys, which ranks second in the Big Ten. He’s shooting 37.3 percent from behind the arc.

Vanderbilt transfer Payton Willis (6-4, 200) is contributing 12.0 points per contest and is leading Minnesota with 23 triples. He’s shooting a team-best 38.3 percent on three-pointers.

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The Gophers rank 67th in Ken Pom’s adjusted offense and 69th in adjusted defense. Iowa is third and 128th.

KEYS FOR HAWKEYES: As you see in the previous sentence, it comes down to defense for the Black and Gold. And that shouldn’t be surprising if you’ve watched this program in recent seasons.

Iowa did not defend the three-point arc well in its loss at Michigan. The Wolverines connected on 10 of 24 trey attempts.

Three-point shooting is Minnesota’s strength, so the Hawkeyes must be better than they were on Friday. And then, keep feeding center Luka Garza (22.7 PPG).

TIP-INS

-Through the games of Dec. 7, Minnesota’s schedule ranks as the fifth toughest in NCAA Division I based on cumulative opposition, with its opponents combining for a 76.3 winning percentage, a figure which also ranks tops in the Big Ten.

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-The Gophers have taken aim at the record books from beyond the 3-point arc twice this year. Against Central Michigan, Minnesota drained 14 treys, which ties for the second-most in school history (last: 12/13/02 vs. Fairleigh Dickinson). Minnesota sank 13 3-pointers in the season opener vs. Cleveland State.

-The Gophers rank highly among the nation’s college basketball teams in several categories. As of Dec. 8, Minnesota is 27th in blocked shots per game (B1G: 4th), 29th in 3-pointers made per game (B1G: 1st), and 33rd in assists per game (B1G: 4th).

-Despite their traditional rivalry, this is just the second time in the last five seasons that Minnesota and Iowa will play a home-and-home series in conference play.

-Iowa’s three defeats have come to teams with a combined 26-1 record (DePaul, San Diego State, Michigan).

-The Golden Gophers are making their first road trip since Nov. 15 at Utah. Iowa will be playing its first home game since Nov. 24 versus Cal Poly.

-Hawkeye senior Jordan Bohannon is nine assists from becoming the sixth Hawkeye to amass 1,000 points and 500 assists. Bohannon, Iowa’s all-time leader in 3-pointers made, is 17 points from tying former teammate Tyler Cook for 20th on Iowa’s all-time scoring chart.

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