Championship Preview: Minnesota vs. #7 Ohio State

By Chris Lauderback on March 14, 2010 at 7:00a
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Who's got my Free Hugs for the ride home?COY and POY celebrate the 2OT thriller (AP/Conroy)
Ohio State Buckeyes #7 Ohio State 26-7, 14-4 Big Ten Roster | Schedule 3:30 PM ET - CBS —— Conseco Fieldhouse Indianapolis, IN Minnesota Golden Gophers Minnesota 21-12, 9-9 Big Ten Roster | Schedule

Ohio State looks to complete a conference title sweep after dispatching Illinois 88-11 in 2OT yesterday behind a pair of double doubles from Evan Turner (31/10) and Wil Buford (22/10). The win made it three in a row over the all talk Illini though it's fair to wonder how much OSU might have left in the tank after back to back nail-biters.

While the Buckeyes held serve against lower seeded foes, the bottom half of the bracket witnessed #6 seed Minnesota beat hapless Penn State then upset #3 Sparty in overtime before heel-stomping #2 Purdue to earn their spot in the championship game.

It goes without saying a win is much more critical for Minnesota though the win over Purdue might have put them in the field considering they were Lunardi's first team out prior to the beat down. Still, nobody doubts Turner and company want this one just as badly even if a #1 seed is out of reach. It's all about the conference title sweep at this point.

#NamePTSREBASSTPOS#NamePTSREBASST
21 Evan Turner 19.5 9.4 5.8 G 3 Devoe Joseph 9.4 2.8 3.0
33 Jon Diebler 12.6 2.9 1.6 G 25 Lawrence Westbrook 12.7 2.5 2.1
44 Wil Buford 14.3 5.5 3.2 F 5 Blake Hoffarber 10.7 3.6 1.8
23 David Lighty 12.4 4.6 2.7 F 24 Damian Johnson 10.2 4.3 2.3
50 Dallas Lauderdale 7.2 5.2 0.3 C 50 Ralph Sampson III 8.2 6.1 1.9

Opponent

Minnesota absolutely dismantled Purdue jumping out to a 37-11 halftime lead and never looking back. The physical and deep Gophers dominated the glass and wore down the short handed Boilers. Watching Tubby all these years, I expect his guys will be instructed to try and frustrate Turner with plenty of contact and yapping, specifically from Devoe Joseph who got plenty of practice with that yesterday. The edgy Gophers also had some scrapes with Michigan State so don't expect them to back down at all if Ohio State gets an early lead.

Joseph (17 pts) fueled the upset of Sparty hitting two triples during a 10-0 run in overtime to put the game away and was one of three Gophers in double figures (10) against Purdue. He also added seven boards and four dimes. Ralph Sampson III led Minnesota with 13 points and Colton Iverson added 11 points and six boards in the blowout of the Boilers. The defense was large holding Purdue to 28% from the floor and 14% from beyond the arc while owning the glass by a ridiculous 45-20 count. It would surprise me if today's game is anything but a high intensity, high emotion war for 40 minutes.

Buckeye Breakdown

As discussed, it will be interesting to see if the Buckeyes come out firing after two draining games thus far. Of course, Minnesota had to play three games in three days but they spread their minutes much more efficiently. Both David Lighty and Wil Buford played 50 minutes yesterday while Turner logged 49 and Diebler 40.

The Buckeyes split a pair of games in the regular season with each team winning at home. The Gophers used a 23-4 run to bury OSU in Minneapolis back in early January but Ohio State responded with an 85-63 spanking in the Schott behind 73% shooting in the opening half in front of the 1960 national championship team.

Largely ineffective so far, keep an eye on Dallas Lauderdale. After getting schooled by DeShawn Sims in game one, Twin Cities took a shot to the temple early in yesterday's victory limiting him to 18 minutes. With the depth and size along Minnesota's front line, he'll need to healthy and productive off the window if Ohio State is to cut down the nets.

Etc

  • Matta is now 28-8 in March at Ohio State.
  • Diebler now owns the school's career 3FG Made record with 273 and counting.
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