Minnesota Men's Basketball 2017 NCAA Tournament Capsule


Minnesota Golden Gophers

Big Ten (24-9, 11-7)

Richard Pitino looks like he is following in his father’s footsteps.  That’s a good thing.  Pitino has a gritty, physical team that plays hard for 40 minutes.  It’s all centered around junior Reggie Lynch.  He does a little of everything for them.  The Gophers also had one of the best home court advantages in the Big Ten.  It’s not that they didn’t lose there – it was just hard for visitors to win.
Big Wins: 11/22 Arkansas (85-71), 1/1 at Purdue (91-82), 2/22 at Maryland (89-75)
Bad Losses: 12/27 Michigan State (74-75), 1/14 at Penn State (50-52), 1/25 at Ohio State (72-78)
Coach: Richard Pitino
Why They Can Surprise:
Simply put this team is gritty.  They quietly climbed their way into the top four of the conference standings when it was looking dicey for the Golden Gophers about half way through the season (when they lost five straight).  They have one of the country’s elite rim protectors in Reggie Lynch.  The junior is averaging over three blocks per game.  He has a nose for keeping the lane clean and the Golden Gophers will make it tough on slashing guards to try and find space underneath the basket to operate.  As a team, Minnesota also limits opponents’ possessions by posting 40+ rebounds per game.  They also have five guys that can score – Minnesota spreads the ball around pretty efficiently.  This team will fight for Pitino and for each other for the full 40 minutes.  There are a lot of roleplayers on this team – guys that do not score often but see the floor quite a bit.  They were all vital in contributing to Minnesota’s eight game winning streak threat stretched from February 2nd to March 5th.
Why They Can Disappoint:
The question will be which team are you getting?  The team that dropped five straight in January or the team that jumped on people in the final three weeks of the season?  That remains to be seen.  While Minnesota has a lot of scoring options, even with the injury to Akeem Springs, they are likely going to have to step it up defensively if they intend to make any sort of run.  Despite having Lynch to swat shots away, Minnesota is giving up nearly 80 points per game.  At some point they will find themselves in a track meet and will have to go toe-to-toe with some offensively potent teams.  Recently, they have been able to outscore their opponents, by scoring in the mid-80s, well above their average.  That type of offensive production will likely not continue, so they will have to find a way to swing some games in their favor when the margin is tight.
Probable Starters:
Nate Mason, Junior, Guard, 15.5 ppg, 5.0 apg
Amir Coffey, Freshman, Guard, 12.1 ppg, 3.1 apg
Dupree McBrayer, Sophomore, Guard, 10.9 ppg, 2.7 apg
Jordan Murphy, Sophomore, Forward, 11.2 ppg, 8.8 rpg
Reggie Lynch, Junior, Center, 8.4 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 3.5 bpg
Key Role Players:
Eric Curry, Freshman, Forward, 5.4 ppg, 5.3 rpg
Bakary Konate, Junior, Center, 1.7 ppg, 2.8 rpg
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 75.6 (119th in nation, 4th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 69.0 (88, 7)
Field-Goal Percentage: 43.4 (231, 10)
Field-Goal Defense: 39.6 (16, 1)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.3 (272, 12)  
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 34.7 (195, 10)
Free-Throw Percentage: 70.3 (164, 7)
Rebound Margin: 1.1 (149, 9)
Assists Per Game: 15.2 (70, 5)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.8 (60, 4)
Recent Postseason Appearances:
2014    NIT      First Round win over High Point
2014    NIT      Second Round win over St. Mary's
2014    NIT      Quarterfinal win over Southern Mississippi
2014    NIT      Semifinal win Florida State
2014    NIT      Final win over SMU
2013    NCAA Round of 64 win over UCLA
2013    NCAA Round of 32 loss to Florida
2012    NIT      First Round win over LaSalle
2012    NIT      Second Round win over Miami
2012    NIT      Quarterfinal win over Middle Tennessee
2012    NIT      Semifinal win over Washington
2012    NIT      Final loss to Stanford
2010    NCAA Round of 64 loss to Xavier
2009    NCAA Round of 64 loss to Texas
2008    NIT      First Round loss to Maryland
2006    NIT      First Round win over Wake Forest
2006    NIT      Second Round loss to Cincinnati
2005    NCAA Round of 64 loss to Iowa State
*all team stats through 3/5