EJSIC College Basketball Previews: Minnesota Golden Gophers

NOTE: We will be previewing select college basketball teams for the upcoming season. The following Minnesota preview was submitted by EJSIC poster Eric D. If you would like to preview a team for the EJSIC, send us an email or post it here on our message board.

Minnesota Golden Gophers
Minneapolis, MN, Big 10 Conference

Last Season: 23-15(6-12), Lost to Stanford in NIT Championship

Notable Players Gone: None(Ralph Sampson doesn’t count)

Notable Players returning: Trevor Mbakwe, Rodney Williams, Andre Hollins, Austin Hollins, Julian Welch, Joe Coleman, Elliot Eliason, Andre Ingram

Notable Newcomers:
Wally Ellenson – 3* SG from Rice Lake, WI
Charles Buggs – 3* PF from Arlington, TX

Preseason Ranking: Most have the Gophers anywhere from 25-30

Preseason Bracket Projections: ESPN projects Gophers as #7 seed in the East. CBS Sports projects Gophers as a #6 seed in the West.

Early Season Tournament: Battle for Atlantis, face Duke in Round 1

Projected Starting 5: PG: Andre Hollins, SG: Austin Hollins, SF: Joe Coleman, PF: Rodney Williams, C: Elliot Eliason, 6th Man: Trevor Mbakwe

Trevor Mbakwe looks to elevate the Golden Gophers in the B1G.

Expectations haven’t been higher in the Twin Cities entering the season since Tubby came to Minnesota in 2007. The Gophers will return all 5 starters from the group that led them through the NIT as well as a potential All-American candidate in Mbakwe, with early reports indicating that he will be coming off the bench to start the year, following successful ACL surgery last year.

The season will really hinge on the guard play, and how well they improved over the summer. Former 4* star recruit Andre Hollins showed his potential during the NIT run and is set up to have a very good Sophomore year. Look for Joe Coleman to play more consistently after a very up and down Freshman season. As well as Austin Hollins, who is the Gophers best perimeter threat, but needs to play more physical on the defensive side of the ball. I’m also really looking forward to Freshman SG Wally Ellenson coming off the bench who projects to be the best shooter off the bench this year and could be a big asset for the Gophers. The Gophers should have one of the best front courts in college basketball with Rodney Williams(a projected 2nd rounder), Mbakwe(a projected 1st rounder) and then able big bodies in Elliot Eliason, the return of a healthy Mo Walker(missed all of 2011-2012) and PF Andre Ingram.

One thing the Gophers need to improve on in 2012-2013 to be a top 3 team in the B1G, is to improve on late game situations. The Gophers blew a ton of close games down the stretch in which they lead late, and made games much closer than they should have been in games they ultimately won, the MTSU and Washington games come to mind in the NIT run.

2012-2013 Regular Season Record:
22-9 (11-7 B1G Record, behind IU, Michigan, Ohio State and Michigan State)

#5 seed in B1G Tournament: 0-1 Record
#7 seed in NCAA Tournament
Round of 32 – Lose to Syracuse