DeAndre Mathieu: a barometer of the Gophers success

by Jace Frederick

The Gophers have certainly been inconsistent in the Big Ten this season.

One minute, they're taking Michigan State into overtime in East Lansing, Mich. and convincingly beating the likes of Ohio State and Wisconsin.

The next, they're falling to the Nebraska and Northwestern.

But one thing does appear to be consistent: when junior point guard DeAndre Mathieu plays well, so do the Gophers.

Here's a little evidence to that point: 

In the Gophers seven conference losses, Mathieu is averaging 4.9 turnovers per game — that number shrinks to 1.6 turnovers per game in their five conference wins.

Minnesota is 5-2 when Mathieu scores in double-digits in the Big Ten — they're 0-5 when he doesn't.

But Mathieu isn't only important to the Gophers on the offensive end. Minnesota's high-pressure defense needs its 5-feet-9-inch point guard wreaking havoc on the defensive end.

Mathieu is averaging 1.8 steals per game in the Gophers five conference victories, and just 0.7 in their seven Big Ten losses.

There's been some debate over who is the Gophers most valuable player this season. At least in the Big Ten, the numbers make a strong case for Mathieu.

And if the Gophers are to finish the season strong and make their way into the the NCAA Tournament for a second-straight season, it will largely be on the back of their smallest player.