Gameday Preview: OSU at Minnesota

By Corey Carpenter on February 29, 2008 at 11:00 am
Ohio State Buckeyes Ohio State 17-11, 8-7 Big Ten Roster | Schedule 4:00 PM ET - ESPN —— Williams Arena Minneapolis, MN Minnesota Golden Gophers Minnesota 17-10, 7-8 Big Ten Roster | Schedule

OPPONENT: Minnesota sits one game behind Ohio State in the Big Ten standings and will be playing their final home game of the season. The Gophers fell to OSU 76-60 in the first meeting of the season, managing only 37 percent shooting and 57 percent from the stripe. Minnesota ranks fourth amongst Big Ten conference games with 66.8 points per contest.

Unfortunately for Minnesota they don't play defense as well as the Bucks, giving up 67.5 per game and possessing a -1.1 rebounding margin. They do lead the conference with 8.73 steals per game and rank second in assists with 15.6, but allow 45 percent shooting, while making only 43 percent of their shots.

Williams Arena is not an easy place to play, especially for a young opposing team. Tubby's team has won 3 of their last 4 home games and will be looking to take over the 5th spot within the conference.

KEY PLAYERS: Minnesota is lead by seniors Dan Coleman and Lawrence McKenzie, who score 12.4 and 11.4 respectively. Coleman also leads the team in rebounding with 6.2 per contest and has scored double digits in 18 games this season. McKenzie has scored 40 points in his last three games, while dishing out three assists per game.

Spencer Tollackson is the other senior who will be playing his final game in the ol' Barn. The 6'9" center is scoring 10.5 points per game and ranks third with 4.1 caroms per tilt. He does lead the Gophers with 53% shooting. Blake Hoffarbar leads the conference in 3point shooting, at 47.6 percent and will give Tubby almost 9 points a game off the bench.

Lawrence Westbrook (7.9 points), Damian Johnson (6.9) and Al Nolan (4.8) will also play for the Gophers, these three combine for over 11 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game. Nolan leads the Big Ten in steals at 2.2 per contest and also leads Minnesota with 3.6 dimes a game.

NOTES: Minnesota shot 36 percent in their loss to Purdue Wednesday... They have only one player within the top 20 scorers in the league... Minnesota is in line for this post season tournament... For more Minnesota info, go to Gopher Nation, From the Barn or Paging Jim Shikenjanski...

BUCKEYE BREAKDOWN: We have been waiting for this one all year, the most anticipated game this century, yep Ohio State at Minnesota. A win would keep the Buckeye's NCAA tournament hopes alive and more importantly in the driver's seat for the conference's 5th seed. A loss would be would be demoralizing and send us packing for the NIT.

OSU has lost three straight and five of seven. Their defense has kept them in all of these games, but their inability to sustain any type of inside presence has hindered their scoring in the second half of many games. Against Indiana, Koufos scored 15 points in the first ten minutes of the second, but didn't touch the ball for the next five or so minutes as Ohio State went to their patented three point launching. I still feel that OSU runs less offensive set plays than in years past and simply look out of sync this late in the season. It's hard for me to understand.

KEY PLAYERS: I will say it again, I hope Kosta Koufos can turn down millions of dollars for the second straight summer. He had his double-double streak stopped against Indiana, but scored 18 of his 21 in the second and still grabbed six boards. Koufos has played 30+ minutes in six straight games and has missed double figures in only five games this season. His offensive arsenal is just starting to scratch the surface, man I hope he stays.

Unfortunately for Koufos, he is the only one that has giving consistent scoring recently. Has anyone else noticed that Jamar Butler has started the last two games by driving to the basket and then abandoning it after about ten minutes? I'm still amazed he has only 2 free throws attempts in the last six games and he hasn't scored 20+ points in seven games. His body language has not given off a positive vibe either.

Evan Turner does deserve some credit once again, this kid is going to be a player. He has racked up 43 points, 28 rebounds and 19 assists in his last four games. He is the only player that drives to the hoop with consistency and hopefully can get some help on the wing to finish out the season, Lighty and Diebler are just not getting it done.

NOTES: Diebler is now 9-39 from three point land in conference road games... David Lighty is 2-16 for the same scenario... Ohio State's first win against Minnesota on Jan. 26th was the last time they scored more than 70 points... Thad is still stuck on 98 victories at OSU...