Busting Brackets

Minnesota Basketball vs. Miami: 2018 game preview, TV schedule, prediction

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - NOVEMBER 21: Jordan Murphy /

Minnesota basketball and Miami will square off in the annual Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Which top team will come out on top for their conference?

Tip-time: Wednesday, Nov. 29 at 9:15 p.m. ET

TV Schedule: ESPN2

Location: Williams Arena “The Barn” in Minneapolis, MN

No. 10 ranked Miami and No. 12 ranked Minnesota will square off in the annual Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Wednesday night (Nov. 29). This is one of the two matchups in the challenge that features two ranked teams, which makes this an extremely intriguing game.

Minnesota Golden Gophers Basketball
Minnesota Golden Gophers Basketball /

Minnesota Golden Gophers Basketball

Minnesota is one of the hottest teams in the country led by star power forward Jordan Murphy. Murphy has averaged 22.0 points and 12.3 rebounds this season and has led the Golden Gophers to wins over Providence and Minnesota. He excels at attacking the basket and finishing through contact as well as relentlessly pursuing rebounds.

However, Minnesota’s win over the Crimson Tide did not come under normal circumstances. Alabama was reduced to just three players after a bench-clearing skirmish caused multiple ejections. In addition, one ‘Bama player fouled out and another suffered an injury. Minnesota controlled the game until they had the 5-on-3 advantage. At this point, Alabama guard Collin Sexton exploded for 28 of his 40 points before Minnesota came away with the win.

Miami has yet to be truly challenged in the early season as their most difficult game has come against LaSalle. They will certainly be tested by the Golden Gophers and will need standout performances from the talented backcourt duo of Ja’Quan Newton and Bruce Brown. Newton has averaged 11.6 points while Brown has stuffed the stat sheet with 9.8 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 5.4 assists. Brown is not only a triple-double threat but is also one of the best perimeter defenders in college basketball.

Miami Hurricanes Basketball
Miami Hurricanes Basketball /

Miami Hurricanes Basketball

The key matchup in this game is in the frontcourt. Minnesota has one of the best frontcourts in the country with Murphy and Reggie Lynch (11.3 points, 8.8 rebounds, 4.4 blocks). Lynch is an elite rim protector and, when he stays out of foul trouble, he is an imposing force who changes shots around the rim. This pair gives Minnesota a nightly advantage on the interior, but Miami has some talented big men of their own.

You could find DeWan Huell on almost every breakout player list in the preseason and that came with good reason. Huell was a top-30 recruit who played a reserve role behind Kamari Murphy last season, but now is a featured player. His minutes have only slightly increased (17.4 to 22.6), but his production has skyrocketed to 13.2 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. Playing against Lynch will be Huell’s toughest test and a strong game could turn some heads nationally.

Anthony Lawrence will be tasked with limiting Murphy, which will be a near-impossible task. Lawrence has excelled as a stretch four and has good size at 6’7’’, but could struggle with Murphy’s mixture of energy, athleticism, and strength.

While Miami has a backcourt advantage, Minnesota’s perimeter players can more than hold their own. Senior point guard Nate Mason is one of the most underappreciated guards in the country and has averaged 13.7 points and 4.1 assists. Amir Coffey provides high-level shot-making on the wing and Isaiah Washington and Dupree McBrayer have performed well early.

Miami sharpshooter Dejan Vasiljevic could be a difference maker. While Brown and Newton are more slashers, Vasiljevic puts pressure on the defense with his long-range prowess. He is a very streaky shooter, but when he is on, he is very dangerous.

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Even though Miami has the best NBA prospect (Bruce Brown), Minnesota’s stellar frontcourt will give them the edge in this game. Murphy and Lynch are incredibly tough to stop in the paint and should wear down Miami’s inexperienced front line. Expect a close game, but a Minnesota win.

Final prediction: Minnesota 82, Miami 74