There is one thing that is guaranteed on Thursday, and it’s that a team in maroon and gold will win when Central Michigan opposes Minnesota in Minneapolis.
Minnesota will arrive in a foul mood after falling to visiting DePaul 69-53 on Monday, dropping the Golden Gophers to 2-1 on the season following wins over Western Michigan and St. Francis (Brooklyn).
In its first three games, Minnesota has played without leading returning scorer and preseason All-Big Ten selection Jamison Battle due to a foot injury.
His absence was especially evident against a mature and versatile DePaul team, given how much Minnesota struggled on offense.
The Golden Gophers shot 33.3 percent from the field overall (18 of 54), 25 percent from 3-point range (4 of 16) and were outrebounded 48-32.
Already a young and inexperienced team with Battle, Minnesota has had to throw younger players into the fire this year without him.
“They needed to go through this,” Golden Gophers coach Ben Johnson said. “It is never fun to lose. It is never fun to get exposed like we did rebounding and especially on the offensive glass with a physicality and presence. But again, we can use this as a major chance to grow as a team. It’s forcing those young guys, telling them they have to figure it out quick.”
Central Michigan enters in a little better mood, having earned a 76-60 win over visiting Eastern Illinois on Sunday to improve to 1-1.
The Chippewas lost their season opener at Marquette, 97-73.
“There was a lot of good that came out of this (Eastern Illinois game),” Central Michigan coach Tony Barbee said. “We got better from the Marquette game, and we’ve got to have the same progression heading into the Minnesota game.”
Central Michigan should be led all year by sophomore guard Kevin Miller, who was named to the Mid-American Conference All-Freshman team last year after leading the team in scoring at 13.1 points per game. He is averaging 18.5 points and 6.5 rebounds through two games this season.
–Field Level Media