Minnesota Gophers travel to Ohio State - OPEN THREAD

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The brutal start to the season continues with another road game against the best of the Big Ten. The bad news is that we start the season with three games on the road. The good news is we have eight home games remaining and only six on the road against the lower teams in the conference (Purdue the exception).

Game Time: 1:00
TV: Big Ten Network

Pos #21 - Minnesota Pnt/Gm Pnt/Gm #2 - Ohio State
Pos
PG Al Nolen
8.1
13.6 William Buford
G
G Blake Hoffarber 13.8 12.5 Jon Diebler
G
F Rodney Williams 6.5
12.7 David Lighty
F
F Trevor Mbakwe 13.2
18.1 Jared Sullinger
F
C Ralph Sampson III 10.9 5.3 Dallas Lauderdale
F
Bench Colton Iverson 6.5 5.1 Aaron Craft
Bench
Bench
Austin Hollins
3.4 10.9 DeShuan Thomas
Bench
Bench
Chip Armelin
3.9
3.2 Jordan Sibert
Bench

That is a talented roster (I'm referring to Ohio State's). Jared Sullinger headlines this lineup featuring three guys scoring over 12 ppg. The freshman is not only the likely Big Ten Player of the Year but he is the early favorite for National Freshman of the Year and quite possibly 1st Team All-American. And on top of that they return the experience, talent and 1,200 career points of David Lighy to go along with the second best shooter in the Big Ten Jon Dielber. And of course their second leading scorer is their PG. This lineup can hit from all angles. The one "weak spot" in their lineup is leading the Big Ten in blocked shots. The starting lineup has combined to have 11 twenty point performances.

Great match-ups at every position today. Buford has scored double-digits in 8 of his last 9 games and he'll be defended by Nolen. Hoffarber and Diebler are the two best shooters in the conference. Williams and Lighty are athletic forwards who may be drafted. Mbakwe and Sullinger are both athletic beasts. And the center match-up isn't as exciting but it could be an area where Minnesota is able to gain some ground.

Neither team is real deep but Thomas and Craft for the Buckeyes have been strong freshmen. They too could drop in 16 or more.

KenPom Efficiency Stats Minnesota (60)
Ohio State (2)
Record 12-3 15-0
Pnt / Poss 1.102 1.218 (3)
Def Pnt / Poss 0.943 0.831 (2)
Off eFG% 51.2% 57.4% (5)
Def eFG% 46.5% 45.5%
Off Reb % 40.1% (11) 38.3% (24)
Def Reb % 68.7% 72.6% (24)
TO % 20.4% 16.4% (11)

YIKES! I was not optimistic about our chances before recording those numbers and now I'm shocked that KenPom's predictor even gives us a 4% chance to win. The #3 scoring team in the country and the #2 defensive team in the country! The shoot well, the rebound well and it isn't listed but they force a lot of turnovers as well.

So can we win this game? Sure, Ohio State isn't going to go undefeated, they nearly lost to Iowa earlier this week. But it isn't likely. Where Iowa had it's most success was in the paint where their effective center went for 22 points and 14 boards. Even before I saw his stat line I was anticipating that Ralph Sampson III might be kind of the key for the Gophers today. This is a match-up that he can win and he needs to do so. Lauderdale is big and strong, which usually means Ralph will get pushed around, but RSIII has a sizeable size advantage and he should be able to score if he can get the ball in a scoring position.

The rest of the match-ups are not encouraging. Hoffarber did go off for 27 in one game against OSU last year so maybe he gets some open looks, but later in the year the Buckeye's moved Lighty over to Hoffarber and he was unable to get clean looks at the basket.

Keys

1 - Ralph Sampson - as noted above.

2 - Al Nolen - must defend Buford and force some turnovers. Absolutely must make a difference defensively while still getting to the basket like he did against Indiana.

3 - In-N-Out (sorry, I'm going with it cause I love it) - His match-up with Sullinger will be really fun to watch. First of all he must stay out of foul trouble and secondly he has to play him even up. If they finish with similar numbers, we can stay in this game.

I'm not exactly confident but we are a talented team and much stranger things have happened.

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