December 3, 2007

NDSU @ Minnesota Preview

The gophers have 7 games remaining before the Big Ten schedule kicks in. This is one of the two remaining games that even appear "loseable." NDSU had a good season last year winning @Wisconsin and nearly beating Kansas State at home in December. They return 4 starters from that team but lost coach Tim Miles to Colorado State. NDSU has been up and down this year giving Florida a run for their money but also losing to UW-Green Bay. They have a dynamic scorer in PG Ben Woodside, but are lacking depth/experience to finish out close games.

NDSU will likely be ready for this game. There are 8 players on the roster from Minnesota, none of which were recruited to be a gopher. This is a motivating factor, especially for the 6 Minnesotans who get consistent playing time for the Bison. This is a scary game for the gophers, if they come ready to play they should be able to take care of the Bison, but if they aren't focused this could turn out ugly.


PG - Westbrook vs. Woodside - last year the gophers did a nice job of containing Woodside (6 points). NDSU attempted the high pick n roll over and over but for the most part it was well defended. Westbrook has defended the opponents scoring guard several times this year and has done pretty well. I don't expect that that Westbrook (or Nolen) will really stop Woodside tonight so advantage goes to NDSU.

SG - McKenzie vs. Nelson - I know nothing about Nelson but I know McKenzie had 20 pts and 10 reb last season vs. NDSU (and Nelson for that matter). This will be another opportunity for McKenzie to show put up some offensive numbers tonight.

SF - Johnson (total guess) vs. Winkelman - the 6'6" junior for NDSU has been scoring over 20 ppg and 9 reb so on paper this looks like another advantage for the Bison. Tubby has had several starting lineups this year and I have a hunch that Johnson will be rewarded for his tenacious play of late. If Johnson gets the start I like his chances of limiting Babe's Winkelman's offensive game.

PF - Coleman vs. Tveidt - this is the new starter for the Bison after they graduated the high energy Smith. I really liked watching Smith and he really made NDSU go last year. I know nothing about Tveidt, but I know Coleman has sucked all year so until I see something (anything) from DC I have to give the advantage to the Bison.

C - Tollackson vs. Mooremann - even though Tollackson hasn't been playing his best basketball, this one has to go to the gophers. Mooreman is averaging only 6.1 ppg and 5.3 reb so he isn't exactly tearing it up either.

Bench - NDSU's bench doesn't appear to be very deep and isn't very versatile. The bench isn't a real strength for the gophers but it has been a pleasant surprise. Williams has been solid, the freshmen guards (Nolan and Hoffarber) have been pleasent surprises and Johnson has been outstanding. I think Johnson will start but even so Abu-Shamala has been his usual solid, slow and hot shooting self.


Were this game on the road I would fear the Bison more than I do. Woodside is a great player. I saw him live last season in Fargo and he had his way with the K-State Wildcats. He can take over a game and finish off the gophers if they are not careful. To make matters worse it is widely reported that Woodside wanted to be a golden gopher but then coach Dan Monson wisely chose Rico Tucker over Woodside.

But even with Woodside's shoulder chip I think this will be a W for the gophers. We should be able to own the paint while McKenzie has open looks outside. Coleman should have every opportunity to get back in Tubby's good graces with a solid game tonight. I'm not holding my breath but there is a chance.

For NDSU this will be about individual performances by Woodside and they hope for Winkelman, but if the gophers play their game, execute their offense and make enough shots that they can apply full court pressure they should be just fine. Expect to see a healthy dose of different guards guarding Woodside to wear him out and keep him from carrying the Bison.

Minnesota - 72
NDSU - 60

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