Pregame: Gophers need Williams Arena to avoid letdown

Andrew Krammer

The two-foot raised court the Gophers play on at Williams Arena seems to elevate the team above their main issues – shooting and ball handling.

Minnesota tips off against Penn State at 2 p.m. at the Barn and the Gophers will need that magic to avoid one of the worst letdowns in recent memory. 

And there have been plenty of letdowns.

The Gophers followed up a Valentine’s Day win over then-No. 20 Wisconsin at the Barn with a 26-point shellacking at Ohio State. After Minnesota’s upset win over No. 1 Indiana on Tuesday, coach Tubby Smith pointed to that letdown as a reason to be wary of Saturday’s game – despite the Nittany Lions 1-14 record in the Big Ten.

But Smith and the Gophers have one of the most prominent advantages in college basketball this season on Saturday – home court.

Not to say that doesn’t play a factor every year, but, for example, this week the No. 1, No. 3 and No. 4 ranked teams all lost. The Goliaths all lost at David’s home.

Penn State pulled off their own biblical-analogy upset when they topped No. 4 Michigan on Wednesday. But unlike Tuesday’s win over No. 1 Indiana, the Gophers are the Goliath this time around.

Minnesota's turnovers and shooting are statistically better at Williams, especially across the last six games. 

Home

Feb. 26 vs No. 1 Indiana
Scoring margin: +4, W
Shooting: 43 percent
Turnovers: 10

Feb. 14 vs then-No. 20 Wisconsin
Scoring margin: +5, W
Shooting: 36.7 percent
Turnovers: 9

Feb. 10 vs Illinois
Scoring margin: -4, L
Shooting: 38 percent
Turnovers: 13

Away

Feb. 20 at then-No. 18 Ohio State
Scoring margin: -26, L
Shooting: 29 percent
Turnovers: 24
 

Feb. 17 at Iowa
Scoring margin: -21, L
Shooting: 36 percent
Turnovers: 17

Feb. 6 at then-No. 12 Michigan State
Scoring margin: -11, L
Shooting: 36 percent
Turnovers: 12

The Gophers are 6-2 at home this Big Ten season and 1-6 away from Williams Arena.