Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 12/26/12
  The Minnesota Golden Gophers are currently 12-1 this season and are tied with Illinois for the second best record in the Big Ten Conference. They have proven that they are a good basketball team, but the real question is how good is Minnesota Basketball this season? The Minnesota Golden Gophers are probably the most underrated team in the Big Ten.  They are currently ranked 11th in the nation due to the fact that they only have one loss.  However, there are currently five one-loss teams ranked higher than them and one two-loss team, which is The Ohio State Buckeyes.  The Gophers so far have not had a very difficult schedule.  They have played only one-ranked team so far which is the Duke Blue Devils, who are currently ranked #1 in the nation.  The game against Duke however, was their only loss. Although their schedule has not been the most challenging, they have beaten their opponents very handily.  Because of this, it is hard to determine how good they really are. They are fairly ranked as of now, however, they will be really tested when they begin their conference play.  They will consistently play high ranked opponents as six teams in the Big Ten are currently ranked in the top 20. One of the major reasons why they are so good is their consistency.  They have four players that average double figures per game.  They also all shoot with a high shooting percentage.  They play team basketball, pass the ball really well, and take smart shots.    Their starting lineup consists of two seniors, two sophomores, and a junior, so they do not lack experience. This should help them in big games and at the end of the season. Their leading scorer is #33 Rodney Williams. Williams is a 6-foot-7 senior who averages 13 points per game.  His shooting percentage almost reaches 60 percent.  His outside shooting has shown development and he is extraordinary at attacking the rim. Therefore he makes for a very exciting player to watch. Trevor Mbakwe, who many people thought would be one of the best players of the Big Ten this season, has not done as well as was predicted. Last season, before he had his season ending injury, he averaged 14 points per game and this season he is only averaging eight.  His numbers in every other category have declined from last season as well. The team as a whole has been a lot more successful so this could be the reason for his declining numbers.  Or his injury from last season could still be impacting his ability. Whatever the case may be; Trevor Mbakwe will need to become a larger contributor if Minnesota wishes to continue their success during Big Ten Play. Minnesota could be the most underrated team in the Big Ten because they have so much experience and are a very talented team. Their talent shines when they play well together as a team, which is often.  Minnesota could be the team this year that surprises everyone, and upsets the top seeded teams such as Michigan, and Indiana.  They have the potential to win the Big Ten Championship, and make it very far in the NCAA tournament. Their next game is a big one.  Minnesota will take on Michigan State at home this Monday.  The Spartans are currently ranked 19th and are coming off of a much needed win against Texas.  During that game, big man Derrick Nix had an outrageous 25-point game so the Gophers will need to stop him from scoring. They will need Trevor Mbakwe to have a big night. This is a big game for both teams, as they both need a win against a ranked opponent; it is also the start of the Big Ten season. Watch out for the Gophers this season. They just may surprise people.

This article first appeared on isportsweb.com and was syndicated with permission.

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