Minnesota’s 2FG Defense is as Weak as Advertised

Minnesota’s 2FG Defense is as Weak as Advertised
December 29, 2013

In our preseason preview we identified defensive 2FG% as a key statistic to monitor closely this season. “Minnesota‚Äôs 42.8% defensive 2FG% will rise significantly this season. Big, big concern and a key indicator for this team.”

The chart below shows each Big Ten team’s defensive 2FG% against D-I competition so far this season against (left to right is best to worst):
Def2FG 12292013

At 48.4% (and even higher if you count Chaminade’s 50.0% performance against the Gophers), Minnesota is dead last. Nebraska is the only other school allowing higher a defensive 2FG% of more than 45.5%.

Thanks mostly to redshirt junior center Elliot Eliason, Minnesota has a strong shot block percentage (though down slightly from recent years). That hasn’t stopped opponents – good and bad – from making their two-point field goal attempts at a healthy rate.

We projected that Minnesota’s block percentage would be down and that their full court pressure defense would result in some easy looks for opponents. Perhaps most concerning this year, however, is that teams are getting easy scoring opportunities even in half court offensive sets.

Can it be fixed? No, but it can be improved. It’s important that the team makes some strides in this area because their excellent defensive 3FG% of 29.4% will rise in Big Ten play.

We expected some of these struggles in defensive 2FG% so our projection of the team as 7th best in the Big Ten and a potential tournament team remains the same as it did before the year began.¬†Nonetheless, the Gophers need to reduce the amount of easy buckets they’re giving up to have a great conference record.

Michigan State has the second best defensive 2FG% in the Big Ten at 42.0%. In 13 games (including Chaminade), Minnesota has limited its opponent to less than Michigan State’s average just once (Wofford [37.8%], who is in the bottom 12% of all D-I teams in offensive 2FG%).

Thursdays opener against Michigan is a tall order. The Wolverines shoot two-point field goals well, but not often. The bigger concern in that game is beyond the arc. However, the second conference game against Purdue on Sunday, January 5 is a great opportunity to set a goal regarding 2FG% defense (say 46% or lower).

@LateNightHoops is on Twitter.

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