Last night’s loss to Duke in the opening round of Battle 4 Atlantis was disappointing for the Gophers, certainly.
Plenty of people who know what they’re talking about looked at that matchup and called it “winnable” for the Gophers – and so when Minnesota stayed several paces behind for the entire game, it was frustrating for fans, sure.
But it’s tough to beat any team that makes 80 percent of its 3-pointers and performs that well from the field as well (54.5 percent). That’s a fact.
The Gophers weren’t embarrassed by Duke. The final score looks bad – and will certainly be looked at negatively when it comes time to choose teams for the NCAA tournament. But the Blue Devils didn’t really run away from Minnesota; they just consistently kept up their pace. It’s not ridiculous to believe the Gophers could have gone on a run had Duke not executed its shots so well. They got beat by a No. 5 team.
And the fact of the matter is, No. 19 Memphis losing last night gives the Gophers a second chance.
The Gophers come into Friday with another shot at beating a ranked team and picking up a signature win early. And if they win today and tomorrow, the tournament – loss to Duke or not – will be a success.
Other notes on today’s game:
- Memphis lost to VCU last night, 78-65. It wasn’t much of a game for most of it, with the Tigers falling behind 42-28 by halftime. Memphis got within 2 with 4:06 remaining, but then VCU went on a 15-4 run to end it.
- The Tigers came into the season with plenty of hype – coach Josh Pastner calls this his best team – but they haven’t exactly dominated early. Memphis won its first two games against Christian Brothers and North Florida by 10 and 15 points, respectively, and in the game before coming to Atlantis, the Tigers were scared by Samford, which threatened to pull the upset until the final minutes. Last week, Memphis dropped from No. 17 to No. 19 in the AP top 25 poll.
- In many ways, the Gophers and Memphis are pretty similar: both are athletic teams that like to get out in transition and run and press on the defensive end; both struggle with shooting at times and with guarding the perimeter. What gives in this case? Which team is better or worse at those things? We’ll find out.
- Joe Jackson, a former teammate of Andre Hollins at White Station High School in Memphis, is one of three players who is averaging double digits (11 ppg). Adonis Thomas leads the team with 14.3 points and 4.3 rebounds.
- Wow, what a disaster finding the game was yesterday, am I right? Actually, personally I have no idea, but judging by the number of people who tweeted/yelled at me for steering them astray, I have a couple of updates. To the best of my knowledge, this is correct -- and all of this information is coming directly from either the Gophers or AXS.tv spokespeople:
*Direct TV: 340
*Dish Network: 131
*Comcast Xfinity in Minneapolis: 420
*Comcast Xfinity in St. Paul: 268 and 875
- You can also listen to the game live on 1500AM..
- Did you see who my colleague Pat Reusse named Turkey of the Year? Check out his column here.