GOPHERS MEN’S HOOPS vs. IOWA
THREE THINGS TO WATCH:
The ‘Other Guys’ – We know the headliners for Sunday afternoon’s rivalry game will be the Gophers’ Daniel Oturu and Iowa’s Luka Garza in the paint. Odds are that both Oturu and Garza will both find ways to shine in starring roles like they have all season. Which team will have the most production from the ‘other guys’ who have contributed to wins this year? And the nominees to win the Oscar for best supporting actor Sunday are... The Hawkeyes’ best candidate will be sophomore wing Joe Wieskamp, who scored a team-high 23 points on 8-for-15 shooting from the field in Iowa’s 72-52 win Dec. 9 against the Gophers. Another important supporting cast member for Garza will be senior forward Ryan Kriener, who replaces injured guard CJ Fredrick in Sunday’s starting lineup. On Minnesota’s side, it’s typically been the Oturu and Marcus Carr show this season. But Carr, Payton Willis and Gabe Kalscheur combined to score 44 points in a 70-52 win Feb. 5 against rival Wisconsin at home. The 3-for-29 combined shooting from Minnesota’s starting backcourt in the last meeting with Iowa still haunts Richard Pitino and his players, but the Gophers can make up for that abysmal offensive performance in the rematch Sunday.
Transition buckets – Before Pitino could blink to open the first meeting between the Gophers and Hawkeyes, Wieskamp had scored more than half of his team’s points. The 6-6 guard was difficult to defend with his ability to penetrate, drill shots from long distance and finish on the break. The latter Wieskamp was doing way too often for Pitino’s liking in the first meeting. The Hawkeyes aren’t exactly the fastest team in the country, but they ran away literally with the game in December. They outscored the Gophers 18-4 in fastbreak points, which led to uncontested layups and more three-pointers. The Hawkeyes also nailed 10-for-21 three-pointers .
Three-point edge – The Gophers are hard to figure out at home when it comes to three-point shooting. They rank last in the Big Ten in three-point shooting (28.6) in league play, but they shot 9-for-22 from beyond the arc in the last home game vs. Wisconsin. More than half of those three-pointers were from Willis, who had a career-high 21 points with 5-for-7 shooting from three against the Badgers. Iowa ranks fourth as a team in three-point shooting (34 percent) in the league games, but Fredrick was leading the team with 46.7 shooting from three. Wieskamp went 5-for-7 from three when beating the Gophers at home in Iowa City. Guarding the arc hasn't been a strength of the Gophers this season ranking 13th in the conference in three-point defense (opponents shooting 35 percent).
Time: 12 p.m. CT, Sunday. Where: Williams Arena. Line: Minnesota 3-point favorite. Series: Gophers hold the edge 101-89, but the Hawkeyes won the last meeting 72-52 on Dec. 9 in Iowa City. TV: FS1. Online/Live video: Fox Sports App. Radio: 100.3
MINNESOTA GOPHERS (12-11, 6-7)
Pos.-Player Ht. Yr. PPG
G – Marcus Carr 6-2 So. 15.7
G – Payton Willis 6-5 Jr. 9.2
G – Gabe Kalscheur 6-4 So. 11.7
F – Alihan Demir 6-9 Sr. 7.4
C – Daniel Oturu 6-10 So. 20.1
Key reserves– Tre’ Williams, G, 6-5, Fr., 3.5 ppg; Jarvis Omersa, F, 6-7, So., 2.0 ppg; Michael Hurt, F, 6-7, Sr., 1.6 ppg; Isaiah Ihnen, F, 6-9, Fr., 1.4 ppg
Coach: Richard Pitino 142-117 (8th season overall)
Notable: Redshirt junior big man Eric Curry had successful surgery in the fall on a torn ACL in his right knee suffered during practice Oct. 7. The 6-9 redshirt junior hasn’t played a full season since his freshman year in 2016-17 after tearing ligaments in his left knee in 2017 and foot surgery last season. The last time Curry saw the court for the Gophers was with six points, four rebounds and two blocks in 13 minutes in a win at Northwestern on Feb. 28, 2019. Curry’s best performance last season was with 11 points and four rebounds in 25 minutes off the bench in a 65-64 victory against Penn State on Jan. 19 at the Barn.
IOWA HAWKEYES (17-8, 8-6)
Pos.-Player Ht. Yr. PPG
G – Joe Toussaint 6-0 Fr. 6.6
G – Connor McCaffery 6-5 So. 6.0
F – Joe Wieskamp 6-6 So. 15.4
F – Ryan Kriener 6-10 Sr. 7.2
C – Luka Garza 6-11 Jr. 23.7
Key reserves – Bakari Evelyn, G, 6-2, Sr., 2.6 ppg; Cordell Pemsl, F, 6-9, Jr., 2.4 ppg.
Coach: Fran McCaffery 191-140 (9th season)
Notable: The Hawkeyes have been playing most of the season without point guard Jordan Bohannon (hip) and forward Jack Nunge (knee). In his last Big Ten game, Bohannon 10 assists and zero turnovers in a 72-52 win Dec. 9 against Minnesota in Iowa City ... Garza is averaging 27 points in Big Ten play, which included a 38-point performance Thursday against the Hoosiers ... Pemsl returns after a one-game suspension for violating team rules.
Fuller’s prediction (14-9 with picks): Gophers 76, Iowa 70.