Minnesota’s 2FG% Dooms Them at Nebraska

Minnesota’s 2FG% Dooms Them at Nebraska

Free throws (9/19 for 47.4%) get the attention from many, but they weren’t the primary issue in Minnesota’s loss at Nebraska.

Although the Gophers could have used some more made free throws in the 52-49, there were more important factors to them losing.

The biggest one factor was 2-point field goal shooting. Their mark of 25.0% (8/32) was the program’s worst performance going back at least five years. Had Minnesota made slightly less than the D-I average of their 2-point attempts (D-I average is approximately 47.5%; Minnesota averages better than 50.5% on the season), they would have scored an additional 14 points.

Free throw percentage is nearly irrelevant to a team winning or losing a basketball game.

At Nebraska, the Gophers were only 9/19 from the charity stripe, but they had three and-1’s and four chances thanks to Nebraska technical fouls. The team’s free throw points compared to possessions used were actually quite strong.

Minnesota’s awful 0.74 points per possession would have been even worse had it not been for their performance at the line. It’s not a good sign when a 9/19 outing from the line helped your offense, but in this game it’s factual.

Had the Gophers made the D-I average at the line they would have scored an additional 4 points. Those points would have been nice to have, but they could have come from a number of places.

In addition to the record-setting 2FG% performance, Minnesota’s turnover rate of 24.2% was unusually high. Had they only turned the ball over at the D-I average and scored at the D-I average on those possessions (1.01 ppp), you could add another 3+ points to their total.

Meanwhile on defense the Gophers defense allowed Nebraska to make 13 of 23 or 56.5% of their 2-point attempts. This was the sixth consecutive game the Minnesota defense has allowed the opponent to shoot at least 50% 2FG%. Elliott Eliason would have helped to reduce the 56.5%, but he played only 3 minutes.

What’s the point of this rambling? It’s a reminder that this team needs to worry about what matters and what they can control the most. It’s also a reminder that no matter how many people try to say otherwise, free throw shooting should be nowhere near the top of the conversation.

By the way, tomorrow when Minnesota hosts Illinois it’ll be a match up between the Big Ten’s worst and best FT% teams in conference play this season.

Minnesota is ranked #14 in the Big at 61.7%. Illinois is #1 and has shot 83.3% from the line in conference games.

The Gopher offense (100.4 ppp), however, has been more efficient than Illinois (98.1 ppp). Indeed, if you’re worried about your offense there are far more important things to look at than free throw percentage.

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