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Minnesota Basketball: Previewing Ohio State

Gophers head to Columbus looking for first true road win

NCAA Basketball: Ohio State at Penn State Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

After racking up two impressive conference wins at home over Michigan and Penn State, Minnesota came crashing back to earth on the road against Rutgers, getting thoroughly manhandled en route to a 64-56 loss. For the Gophers it marked their sixth consecutive road loss of the season and continued their struggles in Piscataway, where they’ve one just once since Rutgers joined the Big Ten.

Winning on the road has escaped many Big Ten teams this year and wins away from home have been hard to come by. In fact, three Big Ten teams still are without a true road win this year. The Knights did a great job throwing Daniel Oturu off his game early on and never allowed the offense to get in rhythm.

Minnesota is in the midst of perhaps its toughest stretch of the season, with a road game at Ohio State on Thursday, hosting #11 Michigan State and then heading back out on the road to #21 Illinois. It’s a stretch where you hope that they can rack up at least one win and would be over the moon with two.

Essentials:

Opponent:

Ohio State Buckeyes (2-5, 12-6)

Date and Time:

Thursday, Jan. 23 @ 5:30 p.m. CT

Location:

Value City Arena (Columbus, OH)

TV:

FS1

Radio:

KFAN 100.3-FM

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The Gophers turned their season around five weeks ago when they upset the then-presumptive #1 team in the nation in Ohio State. Coming off a disgusting blowout loss to Iowa, the home win was not only convincing, but it sent Minnesota onto a 6-2 run that changed the dynamic of the season. Marcus Carr was spectacular in that game. Can he do it again?

The Buckeyes are in the midst of a true meltdown. They’ve lost five of their last six games, with the lone win being over Nebraska. Granted, the losses have come to really good teams, but they’ve been on neutral, road and home courts. Their last loss came on the road at Penn State where they got whipped 90-76.

Kaleb Wesson still leads the team in scoring, though the Gophers did a great job containing him in the first matchup. He’s averaging nearly 15 points per game to go along with 9 rebounds per game. Duane Washington Jr. is pitching in 11 points per game. Freshman standout D.J. Carton, who tallied 19 points in the first game at Williams Arena has been up and down this season, but rounds out the scoring with 10 points per game.

Key in this one will be containing OSU’s three point barrage. They are the top three-point shooting team in the conference, making nearly nine treys per game and shooting 38.5 percent while doing so. They’re still tracking very well in KenPom, who seems to love this team. They are ranked 12th, despite being in a free fall, and rank 22nd and 23rd in offense and defense, respectively. They’re still a very good team.

Predictions

Now that the Gophers got knocked back to earth, how will they respond? Ohio State doesn’t seem nearly as daunting as they did in December, but Columbus is a tough place to play and an arena Minnesota has never played well in.

Until the Gophers show that they can win on the road it’s hard to pick them against top tier competition (and Ohio State is still that). I’m taking the Buckeyes by five.