Your classic example of one team (IU) having essentially nothing (except their top rank) to lose and the other team (MINN) with everything to gain. No one would have been shocked to see Minnesota come out uninterested and already defeated after their last two embarrassing losses. I think everyone was shocked with, not how well the Golden Gophers were playing, but how hard they were. They wanted this win bad. Trevor Mbwake wanted this win bad. The Hoosiers may say they wanted it bad too but anyone watching the game saw the difference in the two different teams out there; one team was trying not to lose and the other, trying to beat them by doing whatever it took.
If I had to define rebounding using three words I would choose position, timing, and toughness. Obviously, Minnesota excelled in all three facets which led them to a rebounding margin of +14 (44-30) and 23(!) offensive rebounds. That is the game right there. Some of the positioning was thrown off by that daunted zone Coach Crean went with. Playing in a zone it is much more difficult to find a man to block out especially when the Golden Gophers are running really physical players at you. However, Crean can’t go out there and rebound for them and it wasn’t like Minnesota was only getting rebounds against the zone, so I really don’t see any warranted blame on the coach when it comes to rebounding.
Cody Zeller could have easily played his way out of the National Player of the Year race after last night’s performance. Dumb fouls, dropping balls, turning it over (4 turnovers), and predictable post moves led to his 2-9 shooting performance. Christian Watford, who has been praised for his consistently as of late, just didn’t show up. Foul trouble in the first half really messed up his mojo for the whole game and if not for those late couple of threes he really would have provided close to nothing.
Jordan Hulls was feeling it all game but he was unable to shake free of his defender in the second half. In the last twenty minutes, you saw some uncharacteristic turnovers, the one by Will Sheehey late in the game sticks out in my mind, and overall just lack of offensive execution down the stretch (which is the exact opposite of what I predicted would happen).
At the end of the day the mistakes made in this game are fixable. Give credit to a Minnesota team that left it all on the floor tonight and really earned this upset win. This just continues to be a wild college basketball season and one that will probably see Gonzaga ranked on top come next week. I just can’t wait until March.
Team Grade: D
Looking Forward- The Indiana Hoosiers come back home for a couple games before going up to Ann Arbor for the regular season finale. The first game will be Saturday against an Iowa team that Indiana beat by four way back on New Years Eve to start conference play. The Hawkeyes will be playing Purdue tonight so if you don’t really remember what they look like I suggest checking that game out. Until then, try not to break anything valuable.