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Preview: Texas A&M vs Minnesota

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Texas A&M opens the Vancouver Showcase with a tough, but winnable, game against the Minnesota Golden Gophers (9:30pm; ESPN2)

Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

Time: 9:30pm

Place: Vancouver Convention Centre; Vancouver, B.C.

TV: ESPN2

Line: Minnesota by 5

Advanced Metrics via KenPom: Texas A&M has a 44% chance to win

With Admon Gilder confirmed out indefinitely and no word on Wendell Mitchell’s return, it’s entirely possible that we’re running back the same rotation from the first three games. While this one appears winnable on the surface, the current crop is going to need to improve upon their recent performance levels if they want to bring it home.

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At face value, this appears to be the easier of our two games in Vancouver, as the Golden Gophers are projected to finish slightly below .500 in the Big Ten. But a closer look at Minnesota’s early results show an extraordinarily efficient offensive squad that’s playing with a ton of confidence.

Results of Note

Early victories over Nebraska-Omaha and Utah have placed them inside KenPom’s Top 50. They aren’t quite in the “receiving votes” category, but they’re in the neighborhood.

Players to Watch

Big man Jordan Murphy is playing very well, averaging 11.5 points and 13.5 boards while leading the nation in defensive rebounding percentage. The remainder of the offensive output has been split among a handful of players, with five different guys averaging double digits.

Dupree McBrayer and Gabe Kalscheur are a combined 13-18 from the beyond the arc, so we should probably consider closing these guys down. In fact, Minnesota is shooting well over 40% from deep as a team and is 2nd in the nation in Effective Field Goal Percentage (like regular field goal percentage except that it gives 50% more credit for made three-pointers), so we should probably consider closing everyone down.

Overall Thoughts

If we start to play a little defense, my money’s on some offensive regression from Minnesota tonight. But if we continue to allow good looks early in the shot clock, as we have all season, we could get run off the court by a hot-shooting team and drop to 1-3.

BTHO Minnesota