No. 11 Minnesota: First look

No. 6 UCLA (25-9) vs. No. 11 Minnesota (20-12)
Tipoff:
6:57 p.m. PT, Frank Erwin Center (University of Texas at Austin)
TV: truTV

Conference play: The Golden Gophers opened the season 15-1 and 3-0 in the Big Ten, but have lost 11 of their 16 games since. Minnesota finished in a three-way tie for seventh in the conference alongside Illinois, a seven-seed, and Purdue, which did not make the field of 68. The Gophers lost in the first round of the Big Ten tournament, falling 51-49 to the Illini.

Coach: Tubby Smith is one of the most well-known coaches in college basketball, but hasn’t replicated the success he had at Kentucky. He began his career in Lexington with an NCAA title in 1998, and reached three Elite Eights and two Sweet Sixteens before resigning in 2007 due to public pressure and dissatisfaction.

Minnesota will be making its third NCAA appearance in six years under Smith, and are looking for their first victory after two double-digit losses in the first round.

Starting lineup:
F – Trevor Mbawke*, Sr., 6-8, 245, 10.0 pts, 8.7 reb, 1.5 blk
F – Rodney Williams, Sr., 6-7, 200, 10.3 pts, 5.1 reb, 1.4 blk
G – Joe Coleman, So., 6-4, 210, 8.7 pts, 3.8 reb, 1.5 ast
G – Austin Hollins, Jr., 6-4, 185, 10.6 pts, 2.4 ast, 1.7 stl
G – Andre Hollins*, So., 6-1, 200, 13.9 pts, 3.5 reb, 3.4 ast
*All-Big-Ten selections

Key reserves:
G – Julian Welch, Sr., 6-3, 195, 3.2 pts, 1.4 reb, 1.5 ast
C – Elliott Eliason, So., 6-11, 260, 2.2 pts, 3.5 reb, 1.2 blk

Scouting report: Minnesota, which returns to the NCAA tournament after a two-year absence, ranks No. 34 in RPI and played the country’s fourth-toughest schedule. More foreboding for UCLA is that the Golden Gophers hold the eighth-best rebounding margin in Division I at +8.2. The Bruins have been outrebounded in 13 of their last 14 games. Being without second-leading scorer Jordan Adams (broken foot) has also made them a popular upset pick; Minnesota is a three-point favorite according to BetOnline.com.

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  • Marc

    I’ve always respected Tubby Smith. That man will have his team ready, I’m sure.

    Let’s hope Ben Howland will have them scouted as well as Tubby will have the Bruins scouted.

    I haven’t seen Minnesota play this year.

    Shabazz said he would come back if the Bruins didn’t make a deep run in the tourney. Where does he stand now, I wonder. I wish I saw things differently, but I don’t see a deep run at this point.

    • Reformed Droog

      Objectively, I’d be surprised if the PAC-12 has more than 1 team make it out of the first weekend…

      Minnesota would have scared me two months ago. Don’t know what to make of this team now. Then again, don’t know what to make of us without Adams, either.

    • http://twitter.com/FatBooster Joe Blow

      Drunkard

  • Mark

    All this whining about traveling to Austin is going to result in a loss. No way a coach should ever complain. The negativity s going to rub off on the players. If you want to be assigned to San Jose, then beat Cal Poly, USC, and Washington State.

  • Davey

    I hope the Bruins approach this with the right attitude…that the selection committee and the media have disrespected them big time. Everyone thinks they’re punks who’ll go out in the first round. Hope they come out and prove everyone otherwise.