Portland at Minnesota 11-27-09

November 27, 2009

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The No. 22 Golden Gophers take on Portland in the semifinals of the 76 Classic on Friday. Minnesota (4-0) advanced with an 82-73 victory over No. 12 Butler on Thursday. After the Golden Gophers won their first three games by an average of 34 points, a matchup with the Bulldogs was expected to be their biggest test. Instead, Minnesota scored the most points allowed by a Butler opponent this season. They shot 50.0 percent overall and were 9 of 19 from 3-point range. The Bulldogs had held their first three opponents to an average of 58.7 points.

While Minnesota may have more offensive options than last season, its reliance on defense remains the same. The Gophers, who gave up 61.6 points per game last season, are allowing only 54 per contest thus far this season while holding opponents to 33.9 percent shooting. They are also among the Division I leaders in forcing turnovers at 23.3 per game. Butler had 21 turnovers on Thursday.

Up next for Minnesota is Portland, which advanced following a 74-47 rout of UCLA on Thursday. The Pilots held the Bruins to 19 first-half points and 32.7 percent shooting for the game.  I like Minnesota in this matchup.

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