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Michigan State basketball: Getting to know Minnesota

What do we know about the Gophers?



Michigan State basketball
© Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan State basketball will host Minnesota on Thursday night, looking to pull one win closer to the .500 mark in Big Ten play.

Michigan State basketball has another very similar game on the horizon. The Spartans just beat an average Rutgers team in a game that was a must-win. This same sentiment exists as Minnesota comes to town on Thursday night. A win doesn’t help the resume much, but a loss would cripple it.

Before the game gets here, let’s get to know the Minnesota Golden Gophers.

Minnesota’s season in review

Minnesota comes into this game with a 12-5 record overall and a 3-3 Big Ten mark. Both records may not seem so bad, but the quality of the wins is lacking. The Gophers do not have a great win on their resume so far this season. Their best win arguably came against Nebraska, 76-65. Now I don’t want to sound tone deaf because MSU did lose to Nebraska, but it’s not a good sign if the Cornhuskers are your best win.

Minnesota’s other two conference wins came against Michigan and Maryland, two more teams not having great seasons. Minnesota also has one horrendous loss this season, losing to San Francisco in late November 76-58.

The Gophers are also riding a two-game losing streak after suffering back-to-back defeats against Indiana and Iowa. So after a solid start to the season, the Gophers appear to be coming down to earth. The Spartans may be catching them at the right time as they’re coming off a solid win over Rutgers.

Key players to watch

Minnesota is led by junior forward Dawson Garcia who averages 17.4 points per game. He is also the Gophers’ leading rebounder with 7.4 per game. The Gophers have three other scorers averaging double figures this season, including Joshua Ola-Joseph. He is averaging 11 points per game, but what makes him more dangerous is his 3-point shooting. Joshua is shooting 48.1% from behind the arc this season, but that is only on 1.6 attempts per game. So he is not a high-volume shooter, but he is efficient when he does get shots up.

Speaking of 3-point shooting, Minnesota has three other players shooting better than 38 percent from beyond the arc this season. This includes freshman guard Cam Christie, the younger brother of former Spartan Max Christie. He is having a great freshman season for the Gophers, averaging 10.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game.

The Gophers have been struggling in recent games, but they still pose a significant challenge for MSU. They have the ability to get hot offensively and if they do, the Spartans could be on upset alert. Michigan State will have to be at its best if it wants to win this one.

Lead writer for Spartan Shadows since April 2023, writing over 450 articles. Michigan State basketball, football and recruiting expert. Class of 2019 graduate from Michigan State University specializing in Sports Management. Daily MSU runs a popular X page (@daily_msu) covering all things MSU Sports.


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