Minnesota Preview

OSU LogoOhio State vs. Minnesota
Williams Arena, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Jan. 16th, 2014 at 9:00PM ET (ESPN 2)

While the Minnesota Golden Gophers (13-4, 2-2) aren’t ranked, they’re coming off a close overtime loss to the 5th ranked Michigan State Spartans. The Buckeyes know all too well how hard it is to win in East Lansing, as they lost in overtime there last week. With that being said, Minnesota is capable of beating any opponent they face in the Big Ten this season. New head coach Richard Pitino has the Gophers playing well as a unit. Their statistics can be a bit misleading. They won’t impress you but this team just gets it done. Minnesota ranks 95th in the nation in points per game with 75.9 and 237th in the nation in field goal percentage at 43.3%. They also struggle to rebound the ball consistently. The Gophers rank 120th in the nation with only 37 rebounds per game but the Buckeyes aren’t much better as they rank 116th. Don’t simply let their team stats dictate what this team is capable of doing.

Williams Arena, also known as “The Barn”, is one of the forgotten gems in college basketball. Williams Arena was built back in 1928 and has been a difficult place for opposing teams to come and get a victory. Part of the unique lore of “The Barn” has to be the benches where the players and coaches sit. The benches are actually under floor level and it’s always odd to see the players and coaches from the chest up. Normally the head coach will have a mini stool or seat up on the main floor where they can pace back and forth. Either way, “The Barn” is anything but a friendly place to go win a basketball game.

Minnesota also comes into their battle with Ohio State having 4 scorers average double digit points. Andre and Austin Hollins lead the way averaging 16.3 and 12.1 points respectively. Deandre Mathieu averages 11.4 and Malik Smith comes in at 10.1 points per game. Mathieu is the only one coming in shooting the ball over 41% from the floor. Elliott Eliason leads the Gophers in rebounding at 8.6 per game. After that, it’s a pretty big drop off to find consistent rebounding.

Ohio State will come into this game with a high sense of urgency after falling to the Iowa Hawkeyes on Sunday afternoon in Columbus, 84-74. The strength of the Buckeyes all year has been their defense and ability to hold opponents down. 84 points was by far the most points given up all season. The previous high was 72 by Michigan State, and that came with an overtime period to boot. Ohio State is not prolific enough offensively to get into shootouts. If they are giving up that many points, it means they aren’t getting stops or creating turnovers and can’t get out in transition for easy buckets. It’s hard to say a game in mid-January is a must win, but this is for Ohio State if they have any hopes of winning the Big Ten regular season crown. Especially with teams like Michigan State and Wisconsin still sitting out there undefeated in conference play.

I think Ohio State digs down deep, behind the senior leadership of Aaron Craft and Lenzelle Smith Jr., and get the victory 64-61.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: