Minnesota Men's Basketball 2014 NIT Tournament Capsule

Minnesota Golden Gophers
Big Ten (20-13, 8-10)


Not surprisingly, Minnesota ran into some trouble in Big Ten play. The schedule is always going to be tough, but the Golden Gophers also had a tough stretch where they lost to Nebraska, Northwestern and Purdue. Despite the average record in conference play, first year head coach Richard Pitino deserves credit for keeping his team together and reaching the postseason.

Big Wins: 1/16 Ohio State (63-53), 1/22 Wisconsin (81-68), 2/25 Iowa (95-89)
Bad Losses: 2/1 Northwestern (54-55), 2/5 at Purdue (74-77), 2/19 Illinois (49-62)
Coach: Richard Pitino (1 season at Minnesota)

Why They Can Surprise:
Behind Andre Hollins and Austin Hollins, the Minnesota backcourt has had a great year. Andre is the best scorer of the bunch and leads the team with 14.2 points per game. He can knock down the long ball with consistency and use his speed to get to the basket. Austin, a 6-4 senior, may take a few too many three-pointers, but he is a decent all-around scorer and a great rebounding guard. Perhaps more important is Austin’s defense. Along with Deandre Mathieu, Andre and Austin lead a defensive effort that tops the Big Ten in steals. Even if outside shots are not falling, Minnesota has the ability to get easy buckets off of their turnovers. Malik Smith and Daquein McNeil round out the talented group on the perimeter. Smith is a superb outside shooter and often provides a nice offensive spark off of the bench. McNeil is just a freshman, but he has seen his minutes increase as the 2013-2014 season has progressed.

Why They Can Disappoint:
A year ago Minnesota made up for their shortcomings on the glass. But that is not the case now. Elliott Eliason, a 6-11, 240 pound junior can pound it out in the paint, yet he does not get too much help in the rebounding department from the rest of the frontcourt. Maurice Walker really never took the big step up in production that most expected and Joey King and Oto Osenieks have had to fill in about 20 minutes per game. All in all, those four form a pretty good frontcourt that can block shots and stretch out the defense, but this team cannot afford to lose possessions on the glass or in the turnover department if they want to make a deep tournament run.

Probable Starters:
Deandre Mathieu, Junior, Guard, 12.1 ppg, 4.4 apg
Andre Hollins, Junior, Guard, 14.2 ppg, 2.4 apg
Austin Hollins, Senior, Guard, 11.6 ppg, 2.2 apg, 5.3 rpg, 2.0 spg
Joey King, Sophomore, Forward, 6.4 ppg, 2.6 rpg
Elliott Eliason, Junior, Center, 5.3 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 1.9 bpg

Key Roleplayers:
Daquein McNeil, Freshman, Guard, 1.4 ppg
Oto Osenieks, Junior, Forward, 5.4 ppg, 2.8 rpg
Malik Smith, Senior, Guard, 7.9 ppg, 1.1 apg
Maurice Walker, Junior, Forward, 7.7 ppg, 4.1 rpg

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 72.0 (155th in nation, 8th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 67.7 (112, 9)
Field-Goal Percentage: 45.0 (138, 7)
Field-Goal Defense: 42.5 (121, 10)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.0 (100, 4)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 34.7 (151, 5)
Free-Throw Percentage: 74.8 (20, 2)
Rebound Margin: 2.0 (123, 5)
Assists Per Game: 13.8 (89, 4)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.0 (133, 10)

Recent Postseason Appearances:
2013    NCAA    Second Round win over UCLA
2013    NCAA    Third Round 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 3/9


See All Men’s Basketball Postseason Capsules