Today's game vs. Texas Tech (playing for 5th place in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off) will be broadcast on ESPNU at 1:30 p.m. CT. Listen live on 1500-a.m.
Check out my insider on what we've learned about Minnesota through four games, here.
My story on matching up with the Red Raiders and former coach Tubby Smith, here.
Previewing both teams, here.
Three things to watch in the Gophers' last game in paradise.
1. This is a big one. There is no doubt that coach Richard Pitino knows this: losing to a team led by the coach he was hired to replace at Minnesota (and supposedly improve the Gophers' future) would not be great. And if Minnesota goes on to struggle this season -- which most of us expect -- it would probably be one of the sentences mentioned in context throughout the year. The Gophers need to at least win this one. As a bonus, it would give Minnesota two of three victories in Puerto Rico, which is about as good as the team could hope for with a field like this. For a growing team, every win, especially away from home, is precious.
2. Similar games. Like the Gophers, Texas Tech has struggled to rebound and has been inconsistent offensively. But while Minnesota has found its strenght in hitting threes, the Red Raiders have been better inside. Defensively? The two teams are pretty even, but Minnesota has been very solid at defending in the paint (10th nationally in guarding two-point shots, per Kenpom.com), while Texas Tech is only average at defending the arc. It might come down to that.
3. Foul control. Last time out, Minnesota fouled 22 times, sending Missouri State to the line 37 times, a factor that nearly caused the win to slip away from the Gophers. Even after seeing how conservatively the officials were going to call the game, the Gophers still couldn't help themselves late, putting their hands on their opponents and picking up whistle after whistle. Might those guidelines calm down as the year goes on? Perhaps. But for now, the Gophers need to adjust, and they've had a full day to do so.