Friday, January 25, 2008

Gophers vs. Suckeyes

See what I did there? I took Ohio State's nickname, and changed only one letter, and made it derogatory. That's good writing folks, take notes.

So I've had some time to relax and reflect after the Week of Doom, in which I was not very optimistic about the Gophers' chances this season, and I feel a lot better. Michigan State and Indiana are clearly the two best teams in the conference, and I think both legitimate top 10 teams in the country. And the Gophers hung with both of them until the end, and probably should have won the Indiana game. If you're used the doom and gloom I'm usually spewing forth, get ready for a change. This time we're going with a ray of sunshine and lollipops because guess what? The Gophers can win this game. And will.

Ohio State has been pretty much accepted as the fourth best team in the Big Ten. My question is why? They're currently 4-2, with wins @ Illinois, vs. Illinois, vs. Iowa, and vs. Northwestern. That is very much not impressive. They've played a good schedule, but have lost every meaningful game other than winning against Syracuse, including losses to Texas A&M by 23 and Butler by 19.

The toughest thing about winning in the Big Ten is doing it on the road, and normally the Gophers going into Columbus, even against a mediocre Buckeye squad, would be an automatic loss, but not this year. The Gophers showed they can win tough games on the road this year, with wins at Penn State and Iowa State. Neither team is as good as Ohio State, but they gave Michigan State all they could handle at the Breslin Center, a much tougher place to play and a much better team.

The scariest thing about Ohio State is guard Jamar Butler. He can absolutely go off on you at any point, but he has been very inconsistent. Since conference play began (with the game @ Tennessee mixed in) he has scored 32, 0, 8, 26, 21, 8, and 7 points. Good news for the Gophers, is that his high games have all been on the road. I think the Nolen/McKenzie/Westbrook combo can keep him under control.

The other big time scorer for OSU is freshman center Kosta Koufos. He's big, at 7 feet tall, but he plays soft (think Rick Rickert). The big man has taken almost as many threes (32) as free throws (48). I can't decide if this bodes well for Spencer or not. On the one hand, he won't have to worry about fouling out, but on the other, I'm not sure if he can handle a big guy out on the perimeter. I can't remember him ever having to guard one. The closest thing I can think of is Brian Butch from Wisconsin, and I don't remember him ever lighting Spencer up. Should be interesting.

A guy who really worries me is David Lighty, a 6-5 sophomore who is averaging 9.7 points per game after doubling his minutes from last season. He's an inside/outside/slasher guy, who is inconsistent but seems to be getting better and better. He's not as good as Raymar Morgan from MSU, but he's a similar player and I'd hate to see him go off here like Morgan did that first game the Gophers played the Spartans.

The key offensive player for Minnesota will be Dan Coleman. Coleman is a bit of a matchup problem for Ohio State, and hopefully they can take advantage of it. If the Buckeyes put Lighty on him, Coleman has a height advantage, and if the put Othello Hunter on him (likely) Coleman should be able to pull him away from the basket and use his perimeter shooting and ball handling/driving abilities to score. Look for Coleman to have a big game (please).

But the biggest reason the Gophers will pull this one off, comes from Minnesota's defense vs. Ohio State's guards. Ohio State turns the ball over on 20.9% of their possessions, which ranks 125th in the country. Minnesota's defense turns their opponent over on 27.8% of their possessions, first in the country (thank you Tubby). This is not good news for the Buckeyes - who, by the way, don't have a point guard. OSU has played three other teams who rank in the top 20 in defensive turnover percentage: Tennessee (loss), Purdue (loss), and Northwestern (turned it over 20 times but NW shot 31%). Added bonus that doesn't seem like a bonus at first: Ohio State is #1 in the country at not sending opponents to the free throw line. If that doesn't play right into the Gophers hands, I don't know what does.

What does all this mean? It means take the Gophers and the under, because Minnesota is about to let the Big Ten know that they are a contender (kind of) this year.

Minnesota 62, Ohio State 57.


larry said...

WWW must have laid some pregger pipe last night. Or he found a Jennifer Love Hewit sex tape online. Either way I've never heard him that chipper and upbeat.

He usually sounds like a lonely jaded man that spends countless hours and dollars drinking by himself at a bar hoping some waitress accidentally grazes her hand across his back so he can blog about how she wanted to desperately make sweet lovin' to him.

Basically, stop sounding like such a Suzie Sunshine and get back to your skeptical pessimistic roots.

Later Fag.

Tall girls suck said...

Why is that big tall knuckle dragger in the middle wearing men's draws?

WWWWWWW, can you remove her from the photo? We want hot co-eds, not big scary girls.

tall girl said...

Tall guys suck Snake

Tom said...

Tall Girl, that real funny guy said tall girls suck not mouth breathing girls!

Also, add a period when you are done typing a sentence. geez!

tall girl said...

hey tom- your a fag

Anonymous said...

good call predicting a win.

so you say ohio state doesn't have a point guard. i think jamar butler begged to differ. he lit you guys up for almost 30 points.

WWWWWW said...

He's still a shooting guard. Just a damn good one.

Anonymous said...

yeah, a shooting guard who leads the conference in assists per game (in-conference) and assist-to-turnover ratio (in-conference). sounds like a damn fine point guard to me.

now, you can can call him whatever you want. regardless, he is undoubtedly ohio state's point guard and leads the conference in the key point guard statistics.

WWWWWW said...

He's tenth in the country in assists per game overall. I still think he was more of a shooting guard forced to play point, but he's shown he can do it, that's for sure. Having a hell of a year.

Anonymous said...

again, wwwwww, the stats do not back up your contention. we have the appropriate stats to nip this in the bud. remember, jamar played shooting guard last year.

as a shooting guard last year, he shot 39% overall. this year, he is shooting 44%.

last year, he shot 38% from 3. this year, he is shooting 42%.

last year, he averaged 1.25 points per shot. this year, he is averaging 1.38 points per shot.

last year, he had an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.4-to-1. this year, it is 2.6-to-1.

every single stat points to butler being more of a point guard than a shooting guard. he thrives with the ball in his hands. last year, struggled at times because he didn't. as a fan who watched all of his games, it is evident. it is also evident to virtually all other buckeye fans that he performs better as a point guard than he does as a shooting guard.

i don't care how he looks. i care how he produces. he produces much better as a point guard.

WWWWWW said...

I will bow to your superior experience in watching him, as most of my recollections are based on watching him last season when Conley was there.

I will amend to this: I thought he played well off of Conley as the 2-guard last year, and expected him and OSU to struggle with him at point. This has not been the case, and he has thrived as the point guard.

Does he get to the rim or drive and dish a lot this year? I remember that not being part of his game much, and I think that's where my "not a point guard" opinion was formed.

Anonymous said...

most buckeye fans recognize that of butler's last three seasons, his junior season at off-guard was the most awkward for him. it appeared that he didn't fully grasp his role, as he is used to always having the ball in his hand. you should understand that this is a player who assumed the point guard position for the final twelve games of his freshman season.

he does not drive to the bucket very often. he can, but it is rare and it is always on the right side. i would argue that driving to the bucket is also a key aspect to being an 2-guard. i would also argue that not driving to the bucket does not necessarily make a player a better 2-guard than point guard. it just means that he is a rare point guard who doesn't often drive to the bucket. he's like greg paulus or even drew neitzel.

i guess my main point is this:

comparing butler's production as a point guard to his production as a 2-guard, it is undeniable that he has played better as a point guard. the stats and his composure confirm this.

it is a moot point after all. there is no one else on the team who could play the point anywhere near as well as butler has. there is zero doubt about that.

WWWWWW said...

Thank you for the education. I appreciate it, and he certainly is having a hell of a season. Good luck in the tournament, we'll see you there next year.

Anonymous said...

yes, good luck to your gophers, too. i was very happy to seen minny hire tubby smith. your program will be going in only one direction.