Which of these 5 bold Gophers basketball predictions come true?
Isaiah Washington will be a starting guard before Big Ten play
Why it happens: The Gophers return All-Big Ten first-team point guard Nate Mason, so why would they want a freshman running the show? Washingtons not just any freshman. His ability to take opponents off the dribble, find open teammates and push the pace is exceptional. Masons at his best when hes able to look for his shot first and facilitate second. Sounds like a perfect marriage, right?
Why it wont: Mason is fully capable of handling the role again. Washington will make mistakes (too much Jelly?). He needs to keep developing his outside shot and defense. Mason, Dupree McBrayer and Amir Coffey already have great chemistry as a three-guard tandem.
Reggie Lynch will break Big Ten records for single-season and single-game blocks
Why it happens: Lynch is already arguably the best shot blocker in Gophers history. He proved that last year breaking Randy Breuers season record with 114. He got robbed one more block vs. Penn State to tie Mychal Thompsons conference and U game record of 12.
Why it wont: Foul trouble. Just as sure as Lynch will erase shots, hell hear the whistle blow once, twice, three times and more. Fouling out nine times in Big Ten play is hard to do. The 2017 Big Ten Defensive player of the year should be more disciplined this year, but referees still seem to have it in for him.
Amir Coffey will break the Gophers drought of NBA Draft picks
Why it happens: The former Hopkins star wouldve been a McDonalds All-American if not for an injury. NBA scouts already knew him then. The 6-foot-8 sophomore has his athleticism back. If hes consistently aggressive this year, hell be the first Gopher to be drafted since Kris Humphries in 2004.
Why it wont: Mason, Murphy and Lynch are the upperclassmen and leaders of the team. Coffey will be the best player on the floor at times, but he might just let the veterans take control. It would be his team as a junior.
Richard Pitino will lead the Gophers to a Big Ten tournament title
Why it happens: This team might not be able to be the Big Tens best for three months, but it can put together a strong weekend and win the conference tournament. This couldve happened last season if not for Akeem Springs Achilles injury in the tournament quarterfinals. Springs absence revealed a lack of guard depth, but Washington and freshman Jamir Harris fill that void. Eric Curry is out for the year, but Davonte Fitzgerald has similar strengths.
Why it wont: The Gophers will be playing Michigan State, at Wisconsin, Iowa and at Purdue to finish the Big Ten regular season. If they struggle during that stretch it might carry over into the postseason, or result in having to win four games in as many days.
The Gophers will advance to the Elite Eight
Why it happens: Balance is huge in the NCAA tournament, and the Gophers were one of the top teams nationally last season in defensive efficiency (22nd) but had problems on the offensive end (77th). Pitino says all five starters could average in double figures. Offense might come a lot easier this season.
Why it wont: Poor seeding like last March. Minnesota got a raw deal with Middle Tennessee getting a 12th seed last year. The Blue Raiders were not intimidated after upsetting Michigan State the previous year.