The gauntlet of ranked teams continues as the Gophers host #9 Ohio State.
|Pos.||Minnesota Golden Gophers||Pnt/Gm||Pnt/Gm||#9 Ohio St. Buckeyes||Pos.|
|PG||Deandre Mathieu||11.4||9.1||Aaron Craft||PG|
|G||Andre Hollins||16.3||8.3||Shannon Scott||G|
|G||Austin Hollins||12.1||12.2||Lenzell Smith Jr.||F|
|F||Oto Osenieks||6.8||13.6||LaQuinton Ross||F|
|F||Elliott Eliason||6.5||9.6||Amir Williams||F|
|Bench||Malik Smith||10.1||7.6||Sam Thompson||Bench|
|Bench||Joey King||6.8||5.2||Amedeo Della Valle||Bench|
|Bench||Maurice Walker||4.8||7.0||Marc Loving||Bench|
Is Aaron Craft on the 8-year plan? Incredibly talented and athletic roster and a fairly short bench, your typical Ohio State lineup. Seriously though, I thought Aaron Craft graduated 2 years ago.
Ohio State is coming off of back-to-back losses and is facing an early hole in the Big Ten standings. This has to be a pretty important game for them. Road games against the middle-tier of the Big Ten are critical to winning the league, as is ending a losing streak as quickly as possible.
Efficiency Stats (national rank in parenthesis if significant)
|Off PPP||1.138 (32)||1.099|
|Def TO%||19.3%||22.3% (19)|
|Off Reb %||35.3%||31.5%|
|Def Reb %||69.0%||70.0%|
This team is getting it done on the defensive end of the floor. With their length and athleticism, it is difficult to get clean shots off inside or outside. They also rank #4 in the country in defensive eFG%. If the Gophers can force a few turnovers to generate some offense, that will help a lot because scoring in the half-court is going to be challenging.
Turnovers are what scare me here. Aaron Craft is very savvy (see how I avoided using "crafty" there?) and I've been having nightmares of him picking Matthieu for a few lay-ups. I have not abandoned my faith on little Dre, but Craft is one of the best on-the-ball point defenders I have seen in the Big Ten since Al Nolen.
Keys to a Gopher Win
Turnovers are BAD - Turnovers are bad, turnovers are bad, turnovers are bad. Unless we are creating them. The Buckeyes are maybe the best defensive team in the conference and their length/athleticism help them to generate turnovers while also keeping FG% down. Missing shots can be survived, as long as we are getting 2nd shots or as long as we are getting a decent shot on nearly all possessions. Turnovers are bad!
Play consistently well - We play very well for stretches and we play very poorly for stretches. This is not really statistically quantifiable other than measuring droughts of scoring in minutes (see Michigan State game) or stretches of being dramatically outscored by an opponent (see Purdue game). But this is a combination of winning the possession game, making shots, taking shots that give us the best chance to score AND slowing/stopping our opponent from scoring. Ohio State is very athletic and will thrive on momentum, we cannot give it to them.
Hopefully the Barn is alive tonight and we have had several days to put in place a decent game-plan to handle the Buckeyes. This would be a great win for the Gophers who have come close a couple times this year to beating a ranked team.