This is Amelia Rayno's third season on the Gophers men's basketball beat. She learned college basketball in North Carolina (Go Tar Heels!), where fanhood is not an option. In 2010, she joined the Star Tribune after graduating from Boston's Emerson College, which sadly had no exciting D-I college hoops to latch onto. Amelia has also worked on the sports desk at the Boston Globe and interned at the Detroit News.

  Follow Rayno on Twitter @AmeliaRayno

Gophers pregame: Can Minnesota propel recent success into something meaningful?

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball, Gophers coaches, Gophers players Updated: January 19, 2014 - 11:07 AM

Today's game tips off a noon, and will be broadcasted on BTN and 1500-a.m.

Thursday, the Gophers picked up the win been seeking -- the kind of win that could help to propel this season into a successful one.

Whether that victory over No. 11 Ohio State is the start of something surprising or simply a pretty blip on the radar starts today. This game at Iowa is going to be extremely tough -- no doubt. The Hawkeyes have depth, size and a plethora of talent. Carver-Hawkeye Arena -- already sold out for the rest of the season -- is going to be rocking. Even if the Gophers don't come away with a win, a lofty goal, they should be able to show that they're competitive, something they didn't do last year in this building, when Minnesota let a 21-5 lead crumble into a nearly 20-point loss.

If Minnesota is able to (gasp) pulls off the upset, Gophers fans should start dreaming about NCAA tournament lights. 

Five things to watch today:

1. Can this offense be balanced? On Thursday, the most impressive thing about the Gophers was that they truly looked like a balanced team, offensively, with options on the perimeter and inside. Minnesota scored 38 points in the paint in that one, giving the guards the space they needed to work. If the Gophers can do that all the time, they become infinitely tougher to guard. But it won't be as easy today, with Iowa sporting a more intriguing frontcourt that is much bigger and has more scoring potential than Ohio State's, particularly with Aaron White at power forward.

2. Who wins the track meet? The Gophers ideally want to play fast under coach Richard Pitino. In reality, they really haven't yet -- their pace of play ranks 227th in the nation -- and they've looked sloppy at times when they get rushed. Against Ohio State, Minnesota had 18 turnovers and the Gophers have averaged 14.4 ball handling slipups in the Big Ten schedule so far. That's not a recipe for success long term -- and against teams like Iowa limiting those mistakes becomes even more important. Minnesota will need to play quick but smart to pull out the win today.

3. Does Marble go off? The Hawkeyes have so many pieces that limiting just one player isn't enough to stop them. But containing Marble -- who is capable of absolutely taking over a game -- would be a good start. The senior is averaging 21.3 points in his last three games, and could be trouble if he gets going again.

4. The old Austin. The senior showed signs of life at the end of the Ohio State game, hitting a critical layup to push the Gophers up by 9 with 2:41 left, and then hit two big free throws down the stretch. Sometimes it's the little things like that -- with no time left in the game to start questioning himself again -- that lifts a player out of a slump. Minnesota hopes that's the case, as an aggressive and efficient Austin Hollins makes this team so much better.

5. Starting strong. The Gophers have started well for the most part this year, but it's only more important on the road, in the kind of environment Minnesota will be subjected to today. Quiet the crowd early and the pressure lessens immensely -- the Gophers saw that already this season, at Michigan State, and Pitino will certainly emphasize coming in with that poise once more.


Cleveland 86 FINAL
Indiana 93
Washington 81 FINAL
Philadelphia 89
Golden State 113 FINAL
Toronto 89
New York 121 FINAL
Detroit 115
Orlando 88 FINAL
Atlanta 95
Charlotte 98 FINAL
Boston 106
LA Clippers 97 FINAL
Memphis 79
Brooklyn 98 FINAL
Houston 102
Miami 102 FINAL
New Orleans 104
Minnesota 89 FINAL
Chicago 96
Utah 104 FINAL
Denver 82
San Antonio 107 FINAL
Sacramento 96
Milwaukee 93 FINAL
LA Lakers 101
Oklahoma City 112 FINAL
Portland 115
Boston 3 FINAL(OT)
New Jersey 2
Calgary 1 FINAL
NY Islanders 2
Washington 0 FINAL
Carolina 3
Chicago 0 FINAL
Tampa Bay 4
Colorado 5 FINAL(SO)
Dallas 4
Los Angeles 2 FINAL
Anaheim 4
Siena 63 FINAL
Quinnipiac 73
Harvard 49 FINAL
Cornell 57
Penn 69 FINAL
Brown 75
Fairfield 65 FINAL
Canisius 72
Manhattan 75 FINAL
Iona 79
Saint Peters 67 FINAL
Marist 69
Princeton 60 FINAL
Yale 81
Ohio 58 FINAL
Akron 70
Dartmouth 84 FINAL
Columbia 71
Valparaiso 56 FINAL
Cleveland State 53
Louisiana Tech 75 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 88
Seton Hall 77 FINAL
Xavier 60
Cornell 54 FINAL
Harvard 60
Yale 49 FINAL
(14) Princeton 67
Elon 51 FINAL
Drexel 54
Northeastern 47 FINAL
James Madison 82
St Johns 60 FINAL
Butler 49
Creighton 71 FINAL
Georgetown 62
Brown 58 FINAL
Penn 75
Columbia 50 FINAL
Dartmouth 60
Canisius 54 FINAL
Siena 58
St Josephs Brooklyn 35 FINAL
Western Carolina 86 FINAL
UNC Greensboro 80
Colorado 66 FINAL
Arizona 51
Southern Ill 72 FINAL
Bradley 66
Drake 59 FINAL
Wichita State 80
Indiana State 71 FINAL
Evansville 53
Illinois State 53 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 67
Northern Iowa 70 FINAL
Missouri State 72
Utah 42 FINAL
(10) Arizona State 46
Providence 62 FINAL
Villanova 71


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