Today’s game against Indiana is not a must-win.

No, certainly not – not considering several factors:

First, it’s a true road game, which are always tough, particularly in Bloomington’s Assembly Hall. Secondly, there’s a LOT more season to be played – it’s only the fourth game of 18 conference matchups, so putting a lot of weight (particularly when the Gophers are currently 3-0), is hard to do. Finally, it’s probably the most difficult game on the Gophers league slate this season, with Minnesota not heading to Ann Arbor this year. Using rigid logic, if the Gophers were to lose ANY game this season, they should lose this one.

So, there we are – nothing close to a must-win for the Gophers.

Oh, but it will change the game, change the season, change the way this team is viewed if they do.

The Gophers have so far performed extremely well this season; that cannot be denied. They’ve won every game they’ve had with the exception of a single loss to the nation’s No. 1 team (Duke) in the Bahamas. You can’t get much better than that unless, you know, you’re that No. 1 team.

But this game (and the next one following, against Michigan at home) will play a major role in determining whether the Gophers have a really good season or whether they are going to challenge the elite conference teams for the Big Ten title.

Just how do they compare with prowess of Indiana and Michigan? We’ll get a glimpse of that today.

Other notes from today’s matchup:

  • Indiana is ranked third nationally in rebound rate with 57.5 percent.
  • The Hoosiers haven’t lost a game at Assembly Hall since last year’s Gophers win
  • The Gophers and Indiana are fairly similar teams, so today should be interesting. Both like to get out in transition, rebound well and have varied and balanced scoring. As Trevor Mbakwe said yesterday, it might simply come down to defense, one area where the Gophers are leading in league play (Minnesota is holding teams to 29.6 percent shooting while the Hoosiers, 32.5).

Extra points:

*Watch today’s game on Big Ten Netwrok
*Listen to today’s game live on 1500-a.m.
*In today’s Star Tribune: The Trevor Mbakwe- Cody Zeller matchup will be a big one.
*From yesterday: Coleman is critical to this team’s fabric.
*On the blog: Andre Hollins a finalist for the Bob Cousy award AND that Brandon Paul play from the Illinois game.

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Dre Hollins finalist for Cousy Award; another look at Brandon Paul's dunk

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Postgame: Saturday's loss impressive , embarrassing ... or some of both?