Michigan (17-7) travels to Minneapolis to take on the Minnesota Gophers (6-17). The game will be set to tip off at 9:00pm on BTN. These two faced off earlier in the year at Crisler, resulting in a 74-69 win for the Wolverines. If you think the Wolverines two-game losing streak was bad, Minnesota currently has a 12-game losing streak, and have lost 15 of their last 16. Minnesota has still not won a Big Ten game this year. The Gophers haven’t had a Big Ten home victory in over a year (Feb. 7, 2015 vs. Purdue). So don’t think that these upset minded Gophers will let the Wolverines walk out of Williams Arena with an easy win.
Players To Watch:
Minnesota’s Nate Mason: Mason leads Minnesota averaging just over 13-points a game. Mason was averaging 20 PPG, four games prior to only dropping eight points in their most recent matchup against Northwestern. The sophomore guard shoots 30-percent from beyond the arc and 40-percent from the field. Mason is the most dangerous player on the Gophers squad, so watch out for him if he starts to get hot.
Michigan’s Duncan Robinson: Robinson has been the leading scorer since the Levert injury. The former Division three athlete is shooting 47.7% from beyond the arc on the year, which ranks 31st nationally and 4th in the Big Ten. However, Robinson has not been able to find his groove lately, shooting just 15% over the last three games, and a disappointing two point performance against rival Michigan State. For the most part, Robinson has been a significant key to the Wolverines Big Ten’s best 10.3 (3-pointers per game). Expect to see him continue to do so against the Gophers.
Michigan Keys to Victory ( make it rain from beyond the arc )
As previously mentioned, Michigan leads the Big Ten with 10.3 (3-pointers per game), and ranks 5th nationally in the category. This has been a key to a number of Michigan’s victories, and they must continue to do so. The Wolverines have three of the Big Ten’s top ten three-point shooters (Duncan Robinson, Aubrey Dawkins, Derrick Walton Jr.). With a healthy Caris, they would have four of the top ten. With Michigan’s lack of talented big men, they need to rely on the shots from beyond the arc to help them bring home victories, and that’s exactly what they’ve been doing.
Caris Levert’s Status:
Levert hasn’t played for the Wolverines since December 30th. Well Wolverine nation, the wait will soon be over. Levert has been cleared to play, according to Brendan F. Quinn of MLive Media Group. Now, don’t get too excited. Seeing Caris play against Minnesota is next to impossible. John Beilein states Levert could “come back sooner or later.” Levert started participating in practice as of Feb. 9th. Caris will decide when he is good to go, which should be sooner rather than later. Levert averaged 17.3 PPG before his injury.
The Wolverines will end their two game losing streak, but it won’t be a blowout. Expect Michigan to panic a little bit on the road, but pull it off in the end. Michigan 79-70.