Preview: Michigan Wolverines seek to scratch off the Minnesota Golden Gophers

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Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Michigan Wolverines are set to square off against the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Both teams enter today’s game with two Big Ten Conference wins.

No. 19 Michigan (11-4) is coming into the game after an exciting double-overtime win against the Purdue Boilermakers. On the flip side, Minnesota (8-7) is entering the game after suffering a blow out loss to the Michigan State Spartans.

Both teams are looking to improve their conference record as they approach the bulk of Big Ten play. Currently, Michigan sits in seventh place in the Big Ten, while Minnesota is in eleventh.

Obviously, Sunday’s game could go either way due to the intensity and familiarity that comes with conference play. Today’s game is clearly important for both teams, but it’s almost a must-win for Michigan. It’s extremely significant that the Wolverines win to keep the momentum going from Thursday’s double-overtime win.

Here’s what to expect and how to watch the game:

Michigan Wolverines Game Information:

No.19 Michigan Wolverines vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers

When: Sunday, January 12, at 1 p.m. ET.

How to watch: Big Ten Network (BTN)

Keys to the matchup: Michigan will enter today’s game with a 2-2 conference record and momentum from their double-overtime win against Purdue. On the other hand, Minnesota is trying to get back to .500 in conference play after getting blown out by Michigan State.

One of the keys for Michigan is to space the floor and knock down open threes. The Wolverines shot a putrid 24.1 percent against the Boilermakers.

Unfortunately, spacing the floor may be difficult since the team could be without Isaiah Livers yet again due to a groin injury, per Michigan.Live.com’s Mike Mulholland. Filling in for Livers, who is shooting 50 percent from three is a tough task.

In order to account for Livers shooting Franz Wagner, Eli Brooks, David Dejulius and Zavier Simpson have to knock down open shots. The more spacing that the Wolverines create will help Jon Teske down low.

Furthermore, Michigan will have their hands full in the post as they plan for Daniel Oturu. Oturu is currently averaging 19.3 points and 12.3 rebounds.

In addition to Oturu, the Wolverines will have to account for Minnesota’s quick backcourt in Tre’ Williams (3.9 points) and Gabe Kalscheur (12.9 points).

Ultimately, Michigan needs to play solid team defense and take care of the ball. Sometimes the team can struggle with ball movement and sinking open shots.

This will be another game where head coach Juwan Howard needs to figure out another lineup that can stretch the floor.

Today’s game is significant for the Wolverines because they need to continue winning conference matchups.

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