#105 Minnesota Men's Basketball 2020-2021 Preview

Minnesota Golden Gophers
2020-2021 Overall Rank: #105
Conference Rank: #12 Big Ten
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On paper, it would easy to look at Minnesota’s 2019-20 record and assume it was a disappointing season. Typically, finishing under .500 for the season would be considered a failed season, but Minnesota was actually one of the better teams in the nation last year. The Big Ten was so loaded with talented teams that Minnesota could finish 8-12 in conference play and still be a top-30 team according to KenPom. However, the Gophers’ best player Daniel Oturu left for the NBA Draft and their second-best player Marcus Carr hasn’t made his draft decision yet. Minnesota is also waiting on a couple of transfer waivers from the NCAA. If everything breaks Minnesota’s way, they should once again be a Big Ten competitor next year. However, if the Gophers miss on all the possible eligible players, they could once again struggle to finish above .500.
2019-20 Record: 15-16, 8-12
Coach: Richard Pitino
Coach Record: 127-108 at Minnesota, 145-122 overall
Key Departed Players:
Daniel Oturu, Center, 20.1 ppg
Payton Willis, Guard, 8.6 ppg
Alihan Demir, Forward, 7.1 ppg
Michael Hurt, Forward, 1.4 ppg
Key Returning Players:
Marcus Carr, Junior, Guard, 15.4 ppg, Early NBA Draft Entry
Gabe Kalscheur, Junior, Guard, 11.6 ppg
Isaiah Ihnen, Sophomore, Forward, 3.4 ppg
Tre’ Williams, Sophomore, Guard, 3.1 ppg
Jarvis Omersa, Junior, Forward, 1.9 ppg
Sam Freeman, Sophomore, Center, 1.4 ppg
Eric Curry, Senior, Forward, DNP Last Season
Key New Players:
Both Gach, Junior, Guard, Transfer from Utah, Pending Waiver
Brandon Johnson, Senior, Forward, Grad Transfer from Western Michigan
Jamal Mashburn Jr., Freshman, Guard
Martice Mitchell, Freshman, Forward
David Mutaf, Freshman, Guard
Liam Robbins, Junior, Center, Transfer from Drake, Pending Waiver
If Marcus Carr elects to return to Minnesota for his junior season, which is relatively likely, then he would be one of the top returning players in the Big Ten. Carr earned All-Big Ten Third Team honors as he finished top ten in the NCAA in both minutes played and total assists. In his first season at Minnesota, Carr averaged 15.4 points, 6.5 assists and 5.3 rebounds. Carr could be a first team all-conference player as a junior while boosting his draft stock if he returns. The only other returning starter the Gophers will get back is junior Gabe Kalscheur. Kalscheur started every game as a sophomore, averaging 11.6 points and leading the Big Ten with 2.5 threes made per game. Carr and Kalscheur would be one of the top backcourts in the conference this season. The only other returning rotation players from last season are role players Isaiah Ihnen, Tre’ Williams, Jarvis Omersa and Sam Freeman. An X-factor for Minnesota is the health of senior Eric Curry. Curry has battled injuries his entire collegiate career as he missed the entire 2017-18 season, played just 15 games in 2018-19 and then missed all of last season. Minnesota has three transfers joining the team this season, though only one is confirmed to be eligible for 2020-21. Brandon Johnson will be a graduate transfer after earning All-MAC Third Team honors last season at Western Michigan. Johnson averaged 15.4 points and 8.1 rebounds last season, and his immediate production will be key for Minnesota this year. Meanwhile, Both Gach and Liam Robbins both await decisions from the NCAA on their eligibility this season. Gach averaged 10.7 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists at Utah while Robbins averaged 14.1 points and 7.1 rebounds at Drake. The Gophers will also bring in three freshmen, all of which are ranked in the top-200 nationally. If Minnesota were to get all three of Carr, Gach and Robbins on the court this season, their ceiling would rise tremendously.
Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI/CIT
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 71.1 (175th in nation, 9th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 66.3 (85, 8)
Field-Goal Percentage: 42.5 (241, 9)
Field-Goal Defense: 40.8 (63, 6)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 8.3 (69, 3)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 33.7 (158, 6)
Free-Throw Percentage: 69.1 (238, 10)
Rebound Margin: 3.1 (87, 8)
Assists Per Game: 15.1 (30, 3)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.3 (37, 5)