Minnesota is currently at 18-8 and on the bubble when it comes to the NCAA tournament. A win tonight on the road against No. 18 Buckeyes will definitely be a resume-boosting win that could burst the Gophers bubble and propel them into the NCAA tournament.
Ohio State is one of the teams in the country who is an automatic lock into the NCAA tournament. but that doesn’t mean they aren’t desperate for a victory. The Buckeyes are currently 18-7, with all seven of their losses coming to ranked opponents. Minnesota is currently not ranked, but they are a quality basketball team and will be a tough challenge. Ohio State has lost three of their last four games, and don’t want to make it four of their last five heading into their match-up with No. 4 Michigan State.
In order to avoid being upset at home, Ohio State is going to have to play good team defense. In their last three losses, they have let up over 70 points, and one of those was to Wisconsin, a team who barely scores in the 60′s. Ohio State needs to hold teams to under 70 in order to win primarily because of their offensive struggles.
Tonight, they are going up against two talented players in Austin Hollins and Andre Hollins. Both players can shoot from the outside as well as attack the hoop. The Buckeyes can’t afford for one of them to have a career night, and Aaron Craft will probably have something to say about that.
Rodney Williams and Trevor Mbakwe will be the big men Deshaun Thomas and Sam Thompson need to shut down, but they should be able to hold their own in those battles.
Ohio State needs to generate bad shots and turnovers to get easy baskets if they want to win, because Thomas can’t do it all on the offensive night every game especially against quality teams. Thad Matta has stressed defense all week leading up to this game after their embarassing loss to Wisconsin, and that will be the difference tonight.