Update: South Dakota St. will be without star guard George Marshall on Tuesday night. The 6-1 senior who is averaging 12.9 points and has a 2.9-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio was seen standing on the sideline during warmups with a walking boot on his right foot. The cause of the injury was not immediately known.
Minnesota tips off with South Dakota State at 7 pm. at Williams Arena. Watch the game on ESPN3 (online subscription service) or listen live on 1500-a.m.
Check out my story on Big Ten “guarantee game” upsets in the last two years now that Minnesota has joined that notorious group.
Previewing both teams here.
Three things to watch as South Dakota Week continues:
This team is better. The Gophers just lost on Saturday to South Dakota – and watch out, I expect the Jackrabbits to be much better. That doesn’t mean they’ll necessarily play as well as the Coyotes did last week or that Minnesota will play the same either, but there will be plenty for the Gophers to contend with. South Dakota has already used a solid defense and balanced offensive attack to steal wins in back-to-back games at Illinois State and TCU (the Illinois State win was by 16 points). The Jackrabbits have been dominant at times, leading by at least 20 at some point in all of their wins. And there in plenty of individual talent as well. Deondre Parks and George Marshall combine for one of the best non-Power Five backcourts, freshman big man Mike Daum has already been a presence in the frontcourt and Reed Tellinghuisen has been one of the better shooters nationally so far, hitting 14 of 30 shots (46.7 percent).
High-motor (dominant) Murph. As recently as a week and a half ago, we watched freshman forward Jordan Murphy show plenty of potential, but also float in moments throughout a close Minnesota win over Nebraska Omaha. The last two games he’s been a different player – owning the baseline, attacking the rim, fighting for rebounds and tips and loose balls. He’s been a monster in the best kind of way, and the kind of player that Minnesota hasn’t had on the roster for some time. If he keeps up this kind of intensity and production, the Gophers should be able to compete in any game. That said…
Defensive shortcomings. Minnesota boasted some highlight-reel offensive performances on Saturday, Murphy’s included, but the Gophers still lost in a guarantee game vs. a South Dakota team that didn’t look very good on paper. How? Defense. Minnesota’s ball screen defense was leaky at best Saturday, and the Gophers allowed the Coyotes to penetrate at will. As a result, South Dakota scored 46 points in the paint with Minnesota looking helpless to stop the carnage. South Dakota State has a similarly balanced attack with driving guards who can also shoot and four of the five starters a threat from distance. The Gophers’ perimeter defense hasn’t been great either, so a good offense can definitely pose more than a small problem.