Well the schedule doesn't exactly let up for the Gophers. Ohio State isn't Michigan State, but they are going to be in the same dog fight for Big Ten standings and NCAA tournament berths. Both teams are in the four-way tie for third place in the Big Ten at 6-4, so this game is pretty important for Big Ten as well as NCAA tournament seedings.
In the first matchup we were fortunate to catch the Buckeyes when they were adjusting to the loss of forward, David Lighty who went down with a broken foot and back-up point guard Anthony Carter transfering. At this point they are playing much better winning three in a row averaging just over 80 ppg in those three wins.
The Facts are These...
While rebounding has been a significant issue for our club, it really hasn't been that bad in Big Ten games. The Michigan State games have been really bad, but the rest of the Big Ten games we typically outrebound our opponent. In the home game versus Ohio State we did outrebound them by 12, so getting to even on the boards maybe isn't enough of a goal today. Here is a graphical recap of stats from the first game.
What will it take to win...
#1 - Evan Turner will get his, but don't let someone else have a huge night. Burford and Diebler are the ones that I'm worried about. I know I'm really going out on a limb there by picking their second and third leading scorers, but they really are both capable of lighting up the box score. Buford has scored 20+ in back to back games and Dielber is great scorer, if he gets into a rythm he becomes very difficult to stop.
#2 - Be prepared for a zone. This bit us at Northwestern. Ohio State will not play a 1-3-1, but they will play a zone so I'm hopeful we will be prepared to execute an offense against it.
#3 - Just showing up is not enough. I hope they learned that from their Michigan State debacle. Just warming up, going through the motions and putting five guys on the floor is enough. I really want to see them show up pissed off about what happened the other night. Play with some passion, play with some emotion on deffense and execute your offense with some purpose.
The last one in my estimation is the key to the game. Wednesday's game really demonstrated that there is no emotional leader on this team. We have a number of players who are very good at what they do, but nobody that everyone can rally around. This may soon be the topic of a full post.
I'm not going to make any predictions here. We are absolutely capable of winning this game, even on the road. The win would be a very nice road win and would give us some separation in the standings, at least from Ohio State.