MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - For the second time in three years, the University of Minnesota is headed to the NCAA Tournament.
The Gophers (21-13) learned their seed, destination and opponent on Selection Sunday. They’re the No. 10 seed in the East Region, and they’ll face No. 7-seeded Louisville at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa at 11:15 a.m. Thursday.
The winner gets the Michigan State/Bradley winner on Saturday for a trip to the Sweet 16.
The match-up will feature plenty of story lines, including Richard Pitino facing a Louisville program that he used be a coach for under his father, Rick Pitino. The Cardinals won the 2013 national championship under Rick Pitino, but the title was later vacated.
When you look at the numbers, there shouldn’t be a lack of scoring from either team. They both like to get out in transition, and play fast. Here’s a look at Louisville, by the numbers.
Scoring: 74.5 points per game (119 nationally)
Scoring defense: 67.8 (80)
Scoring margin: 6.7 (62)
FG percentage: 43.4 (230)
FG percentage defense: 40.5 (28)
3-pt FG percentage: 34.2 (193)
10-8 ACC, sixth
Top players: Jordan Nwora (forward) --17.2 points per game, 7.5 rebounds; Dwayne Sutton (forward) -- 10.2 points, 6.9 rebounds; Christen Cunningham (guard) -- 9.8 points, 33.7 percent 3-point FGs; Steven Enoch 9.3 ppg, 35.9 percent 3-pt FGs
Here is a look at the Gophers, by the numbers:
Scoring: 70.8 points per game (228 nationally)
Scoring defense: 69.2 (121)
Scoring margin: 1.6 (160)
FG percentage: 43.7 (216)
FG percentage defense: 43.4 (160)
3-pt FG percentage: 32.1 (291)
9-11 Big Ten, seventh
Top players: Amir Coffey 16.3 ppg, Jordan Murphy 14.8 ppg, 11.5 rpg; Daniel Oturu 10.8 ppg, 7.2 rpg; Gabe Kalscheur 9.9 ppg, 41.6 percent 3-pt FGs
As you might expect in a 10-7 match-up, the numbers are close. It appears the game will come down to who plays best in the paint as Louisville’s top scorer, Jordan Nwora, is also the Cardinals’ leading rebounder. He’ll likely battle either Jordan Murphy or Daniel Oturu. Dwayne Sutton is their other top scorer and rebounder at 10.2 points and 6.9 rebounds per game.
Don’t expect the game to be won, but maybe lost, at the three-point line. Louisville is shooting 34.2 percent from the perimeter for the season, while the Gophers finished last in the Big Ten at 32.1 percent.
Minnesota will need its best game of the season from Coffey and Murphy, who both led the Gophers to the Big Ten Tournament semifinals. Coffey had scored at least 20 points in five straight games before scoring 14 in the loss to Michigan. Murphy was named to the Big Ten All-Tournament Team and has scored in double figures in eight of Minnesota’s last 10 games. He had 27 points and eight rebounds in the win over Purdue.
He’ll leave Minnesota as the all-time leading rebounder and in top-five in career scoring.
Minnesota will also rely heavily on its starters to beat Louisville. Coffey, Murphy, Kalscheur and McBrayer all average at least 30 minutes per game.
The Gophers are looking for their first NCAA Tournament win under coach Richard Pitino. Two years ago, the Gophers lost in the opening round as a No. 5 seed to Middle Tennessee State.