Busting Brackets

Minnesota vs Saint Louis: 2020-21 college basketball game preview, TV schedule

BLOOMINGTON, INDIANA - MARCH 04: Marcus Carr #5 of the Minnesota Golden Gophers shoots a free throw in the game against the Indiana Hoosiers at Assembly Hall on March 04, 2020 in Bloomington, Indiana. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)
BLOOMINGTON, INDIANA - MARCH 04: Marcus Carr #5 of the Minnesota Golden Gophers shoots a free throw in the game against the Indiana Hoosiers at Assembly Hall on March 04, 2020 in Bloomington, Indiana. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images) /

Saint Louis goes on the road for the first time, taking on a Minnesota squad looking to bounce back after a poor conference opener.

TV Schedule: Sunday, December 20th, 8:30 p.m. ET, FS1.

Arena: Williams Arena, Minneapolis, MN.

The Saint Louis University Billikens are one of the nation’s hottest teams and one of the strongest Mid-Majors in the 2020-21 campaign. Coming off of wins over Indiana State and North Carolina State, the Billikens are looking to roll into A-10 play with a perfect Non-Conference schedule and an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament firmly in their crosshairs.

The Golden Gophers, on the other hand, are looking to rebound after a rough night in their Big 10 season opener, when they went to Champaign Illinois to take on the Illini and lost by 27. Minnesota had a unique non-conference schedule, beating Loyola-Marymount twice and needing OT to beat Boston College. But a home win over the Billikens may be enough to put the Gophers back into the swing of things and into the conversation for an NCAA bid.

SLU and Minnesota have some very similar features, in that both teams play big and have a deep bench they don’t mind going into to find additional weapons. The starkest difference between the two programs is that Travis Ford’s Billikens are more homegrown, whereas Richard Pitino’s squad is almost entirely built around solid work on the transfer market. Both teams have veteran cores and will play tight, mature brands of college basketball.

Yuri Collins is coming off a career-high scoring night when the Billikens point guard, who is most known for his high assist’s totals, took control of the offense and put up 17 points on 6/10 shooting. The old school point guard used his dribble to often get to the rim, either cashing or getting to the foul line and leading the Bills to an 11-point win over NC State.

Fellow guard Jordan Goodwin will be making his 100th appearance in Billiken blue, averaging a double-double with 15.2 points and 11 rebounds a game as just a 6’3 shooting guard. Javonte Perkins paces the Billikens offense, averaging a team-high 19.5 points per game, shooting 56% from the field and 58% from three.

Liam Robbins represents the biggest matchup advantage the Gophers have going into the Sunday night affair. The Drake transfer is a true seven-footer and will tower over the Billiken starting center in Hasahn French. Robbins averages 12 points a night and is a highly effective paint defender, tallying five blocks in two separate nights.

He also can step out to the perimeter and knock down a three if need be, so he will be everywhere. The Billiken had a hard time stopping the 6’11 NC State center Manny Bates last Thursday night; this could be an area Pitino’s group could exploit.

The other Gopher to make up the tandem leaders in Minneapolis is redshirt Junior Marcus Carr. The point guard does it all for the Gophers, averaging 22.1 points per night, including a breakout 35-point night over Green Bat, 5.8 assists per night, and four rebounds.

Carr may be the best Canadian player in the NCAA this season (being a Toronto native) will ultimately be the backbone of any University of Minnesota success. Carr can shoot it from deep but prefers to use his athleticism and slashing ability to cut to the rim and finish inside, drawing as many fouls as possible along the way.

For the Billikens to find success, they will need to continue doing what they have done all season. Win the rebounding battle and force turnovers on defense. The more possessions you allow Travis Ford’s offense to have, the better they have been this season…especially when they can get out and run.

Fortunately for the Gophers, they have been one of the top teams in the country in ball security this season and will use their slower play style to hold the Billikens to a more half-court game. One in which the SLU offense has struggled with at times this season.

With SLU going on the road for the first time this season, it’s hard to tell how they will perform away from their stronghold at Chaifetz Arena. While SLU appears to be the favorite (KenPom favors them by 1 and Vegas has them as the 2.5-point favorite), the newness of the situation and how tight the teams already are maybe enough to sway the competition in the home teams’ favor.

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The matchup will be the marquee college basketball event in its time slot and tell us something about the two programs. Is SLU legit? Can Minnesota compete in the Big 10? Find out Sunday night on FS1.