Preview: #23 Ohio State at #21 Minnesota

By Corey Carpenter on January 2, 2009 at 2:00p
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pj-hill-is-a-defensive-sparkCan Hill be the needed spark on D? (D. Harkin: O-Zone)
Ohio State Buckeyes #23 Ohio State 10-1, 1-0 Big Ten Roster | Schedule 12:00 PM ET - BTN —— Williams Arena Minneapolis, MN Minnesota Golden Gophers #21 Minnesota 12-1, 0-1 Big Ten Roster | Schedule

Ohio State makes their first B10 road trip of the season, when they tip off at high noon on Saturday in frigid Minneapolis.

Both teams come into the game ranked, the first time that has happened since Jan. 1972. Minnesota has been the surprise team thus far, winning their first 12 games before falling to Michigan State 70-58 on Wednesday.

The teams split the series last year, with each team winning by double digits on their home court. It should be another competitive game, as each team will try an stay in the top 25 and Minnesota will try to avoid an 0-2 home start within the conference.

#NamePTSREBASSTPOS#NamePTSREBASST
2 Jeremie Simmons 7.5 2.5 2.4 G 0 Al Nolan 8.5 4.0 6.3
33 Jon Diebler 11.5 3.4 1.9 G 20 Lawrence Westbrook 12.8 2.1 1.8
21 Evan Turner 16.2 7.2 2.9 F 24 Damien Johnson 9.9 3.7 2.9
44 William Buford 8.5 3.5 0.6 F 45 Colton Iverson 7.5 4.5 0.6
52 Dallas Lauderdale 7.7 5.1 0.2 C 50 Ralph Sampson 6.5 3.7 0.7

Opponent

Minnesota comes in scoring 73.5 points a game, ranking them fourth in the conference, while their 47.5 percent shooting is also good for fourth. The Gophers are allowing 62.2 points a contest and are forcing opponents to shoot 38.8 percent from the floor.

Tubby's team has taken down mostly cupcakes thus far, but wins over Louisville and Virginia stand out for their tourney resume. They gave up 16 offensive boards and were outrebounded 41-22 against the Spartans, shooting less than 40 percent and recording only 8 assist.

They will substitute often, rotating about 10 guys, with Blake Hofferber leading the way. Hofferber, a lefty, scores 10.3 points and shoots over 40 percent from deep, where 63 of his 84 shots have come from.

The Gophers are a young team and don't have much height beyond Sampson and Iverson, so hopefully Ohio State can dominate the boards. Keep an eye on Al Nolan and Lawrence Westbrook, one of the best guard duos in the conference.

Buckeye Breakdown:

The Buckeyes answered the challenge on Wednesday, in their thrilling 68-65 victory over Iowa, putting the WVU loss in the rear view mirror. They will look to build upon that success in Minneapolis, but with wind chills at -30 degrees in the Twin Cities and an 11am local start, the Buckeyes will have to avoid a slow start.

Diebler and Buford are starting to emerge as the other scoring options this team needs. Threebler is coming off his career high, but has not put strong back to back games together, his 20 against Miami was followed up by 2 against ND. Buford has scored double digits in 4 straight games, but seems to fade a bit in the second half.

PJ Hill was exactly what OSU needed on Wednesday. If he can give Thad those types of minutes on a consistent basis, it will take pressure of Simmons having to play 35+ minutes. I like the high screen for Simmons, it has given him more driving opportunities and has cut back on his three point attempts.

The Gophers are especially young inside the paint, so BJ and Dallas have to do a better job of holding their position down low. As Chris and I have said before though, the wings must look quicker and more often to the post entry pass. Points in the paint are crucial on the road.

Etc

  • Ohio State leads the series 73-53.
  • Thad has used four different starting lineups in the last four games.
  • OSU is still 12th nationally with 56.6 points per game allowed defensively.
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