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Orion Sang | Detroit Free Press | January 22, 2019

Michigan vs. Minnesota: Prediction and 3 things to watch

Tennessee tops Andy Katz's Power 36

No. 5 Michigan hasn't been in this situation for quite some time.

The Wolverines suffered their first loss of the season — and their first regular season loss since Feb. 6, 2018 — at Wisconsin on Saturday. Now they'll have to regroup before a home matchup against Minnesota tonight.

Here's what to watch for:

Crashing the glass

Minnesota is an elite offensive rebounding team, with an offensive rebounding percentage of 35.0 that ranks No. 24 in the nation.

That's thanks to the front-court of Jordan Murphy and Daniel Oturu, who combine for 6.4 offensive rebounds per game. Murphy has made a career out of being a good rebounder, while Oturu is a talented freshman with plenty of good basketball ahead of him.

MORE: Tennessee takes over No. 1, Michigan dips five spots in Andy Katz's Power 36

This will be strength versus strength: Michigan's defense ranks No. 9 with a 23.0 offensive rebounding percentage, and will need to limit Minnesota's second-chance opportunities.

Slowing down Murphy

Murphy is a savvy and experienced senior who has never quite developed an outside shot. He does all of his work near the basket and is shooting 51.3 percent inside the arc.

In his final season, Murphy has consistently gotten to the line: he shoots 68.1 percent on a career-high eight free throws per game.

It's safe to assume Charles Matthews will draw Amir Coffey, Minnesota's leading scorer, on defense, which means Ignas Brazdeikis will spend plenty of time on Murphy.

Brazdeikis -- like most freshmen -- has been a mixed bag on defense this season. He's held his own against players like Villanova's Eric Paschall but has also had his share of struggles, both on and away from the ball.

SCORES: Latest NET rankings and top 25 scores Full scoreboard

Murphy and his ability to get to the line will be a test for Michigan's star freshman, who got in foul trouble during the first half of Saturday's loss to Wisconsin. Sophomore forward Isaiah Livers could also see time on Murphy.

Getting it going on offense

Michigan struggled in nearly every aspect of offense against the Badgers. The Wolverines couldn't find good shots, didn't get much from action away from the ball and turned it over too frequently.

Tuesday's game will be an opportunity to get back on track before a tough road game at Indiana on Friday night. The Gophers don't force many turnovers and have allowed opponents to hit 35.8 percent on 3s. They're less than a week removed from giving up 95 points to Illinois in a 27-point loss.

Prediction

Matthews should be able to slow down Coffey, who is averaging 15.7 points for Minnesota. The Gophers crash the glass hard, but don't shoot the ball well as a team. It's hard to see Michigan losing at home.

The pick: Michigan 72, Minnesota 61

This article is written by Orion Sang from Detroit Free Press and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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