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Minnesota defense looks to slow Michigan

Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Ninth-ranked Minnesota will have to slow down Trey Burke and the Michigan offense for the Gophers to pick up their first win over a top-five team since November 1994.

On Thursday night (7 ET, ESPN), the fifth-ranked Michigan Wolverines take on the No. 9 Minnesota Golden Gophers. It's the fourth meeting all-time between the schools when both were ranked in the Associated Press top 10, but the first since February 1977. Michigan has won the previous three such meetings.

Both of Minnesota's losses this season have come to top-five teams, and the Gophers haven't beaten a top-five opponent since beating fifth-ranked Arizona in November 1994.

Here's a breakdown of three keys to the game.

Michigan's offensive prowess

Michigan is scoring 1.23 points per possession this season, the highest average in the nation.

The only game this season that Michigan did not average more than 1.10 points per possession was in its lone loss, at Ohio State last Sunday.

Michigan Offense This Season

In that game, the Wolverines turned the ball over on a season-high 22 percent of their possessions.

The Wolverines are averaging 79.1 points per game (tied for 14th in the NCAA) on 64.5 possessions per game (T-282).

Michigan shoots 49 percent against man-to-man defense this season, fifth-best in the nation.

The Wolverines are one of three Division I teams that average more than a point per play against man defense. Michigan shot a season-low 36 percent against Ohio State’s man-to-man defense.

Question of the night: Can Minnesota stop Trey Burke?

Burke is averaging 1.35 points per play as the ball-handler on pick-and-roll plays, according to Synergy Sports Tech, the highest average in the nation (minimum 25 plays). Burke has scored 34 percent of his points on such plays. He has just six turnovers on pick-and-rolls, and his passes have led to 33 field goals for the Wolverines.

Trey Burke Pick-and-Roll Ball-Handler

This Season

Minnesota is one of the best teams in the league defending the pick-and-roll. The Gophers are allowing 0.67 points per pick-and-roll play, the third-best rate in the Big Ten. Opponents are shooting just 32.3 percent on such plays, behind only the Ohio State Buckeyes in the conference.

The Gophers have held nearly half of their opponents, including Michigan State on New Year’s Eve, to fewer than 0.5 points per pick-and-roll play this season.

Burke is also shooting 54 percent on jump shots attempted off the dribble this season, which ranked fourth-best in the nation entering the week (minimum 25 field-goal attempts).

He has also made 56 percent of his 3-point field goals off the dribble.

No player from a major conference has scored more points on jump shots off the dribble (85) than Burke.

Matchup to watch: battle of the boards

Minnesota has grabbed 48 percent of its missed shots this season, the highest percentage in the nation.

The Gophers turn these rebounds into a Big Ten-best 15.2 second-chance points per game.

But the Wolverines should provide a good match. They grab 76 percent of available defensive rebounds, the second-highest defensive rebound rate in the country.