What is Dispatches from Blogfrica? Pretty simple: I ask questions of a blogger for an opposing team; he answers. A truly revolutionary idea, no? Next up: Chris from The Daily Gopher, SB Nation's Floyd-free blog for all things Gopher.
1) Are you as confused by the Gophers as I am? Just when they seem to have things turned around, they lose to Michigan State (okay, understandable) and Illinois (slightly less understandable) and almost lose to Wisconsin. Granted, those are all good teams and all look likely to make the NCAA Tournament, but isn't Minnesota also a good team? Are you puzzled about Minnesota's performance in Big Ten play too?
Well, as a Gopher fan I think the better word would be frustrated. But confused is there too. Essentially it comes to 3 problems: turnovers, offensive stagnation (both in terms of shooting % and halfcourt movement), and defensive letdowns (especially against 3 point shooting). The TO's have been this team's achilles heel since the beginning of the season and we've never been the best against the 3, but the offensive problems...oh the offensive problems. It's just painful to watch our halfcourt sets sometimes. No one wants to penetrate anymore and we end up watching them pass it around and jack up a long shot most of the time.
2) The last Iowa-Minnesota game was a pretty close, back-and-forth affair. How do you think this game plays out? The same? Any reason things might be different?
I'd like to see the Gophers be the ones to aggressively push the tempo this time though. It was surprising that Iowa was the team leading the fastbreak the last time out. If that happens I think we're looking at a pretty similar outcome. If the Gophers start shooting the ball better (especially from outside) then I think the Gophers win by a little more.
3) What are your tournament aspirations? Can Minnesota make it to the Sweet 16?
Can they make the Sweet 16? Definitely. Will they? As of now I'll say no. The one thing that I think the Gophers have in their favor is the fact that they seem to do well against teams who haven't seen them before and who have less time to prepare. In those games the Gophers seem to do more of what makes them successful (push the tempo, run the break, etc). I'm still hoping to see something in the coming weeks that changes my mind though.
4) If all of the Big Ten coaches were on a plane and it crashed on a remote island, who would emerge as the leader? Would they devolve into warring factions? Who would be the first to be eaten when the food inevitably ran out and they were forced to turn to cannibalism?
Bo Ryan dies immediately. Yes, they'd all say it was a result of the plane crash, but we all know better. They wouldn't eat him because he'd take forever to digest and the end result would be ugly and painful. No, he'd die on principle. As for leaders? I think Tim Miles would get the role of the Professor because, glasses. Tom Crean would reprise the role of Gilligan (all he needs is the white hat). I find it hard to believe that this collection of egos would allow for a true leader to emerge. I mean, can you see Fran following anyone? No, we'd see manipulation until the most viscious among them started off-ing the others. My money is on Fran uses the camping chair he carries with him at all times to straight murder everyone else.
5) If the game is tied at the end of regulation, can we just skip overtime in favor of a dunk contest? We'll send out Aaron White, Eric May, and Melsahn Basabe. You can have Rodney Williams, Trevor Mbakwe, and.... uh, I don't know... maybe Williams can just go again? That would be better than an overtime full of missed shots, right? (NOTE: I may be scarred from watching too many overtimes involving Wisconsin.)
I'm WHOLEHEARTEDLY behind going to a dunk contest. I would guarantee a win for the Gophers with a dunk contest OT. Also, how dare you disrespect high jump champion Wally Ellenson by leaving him off your list? He's the secret weapon on our dunking squad.
6) OK, prediction time - who ya got?
I don't like saying this...so I won't. The team I won't name will win by 4. I think the Gophers' road shooting woes continue even though they deliver another low(ish) TO game to keep it interesting. It's just painful to imagine. Thankfully, I'll be in the midst of pregaming for the outdoor hockey game when this one is going on so if I'm right about my prediction I can distract myself quickly.
Thanks for being a good sport, Chris. You can check out Chris and the rest of the TDG crew at The Daily Gopher. You can also follow Chris on Twitter at @GoAUpher and TDG at @TheDailyGopher. The Iowa-Minnesota game is on Sunday, February 17 at 1:00 pm CT, with television coverage from BTN.