Friday, February 4, 2011

Game Preview: Minnesota Gophers vs. Ohio State Buckeyes

Not much has changed for Ohio State since my last preview.  They've still got 0 losses, they still have a variety of weapons they can use to kill you, and Jared Sullinger is still a beast.  Maybe the biggest change is their little PG, Aaron Craft, has gone from after-throught to bonafide stud on both ends of the court.  So they're probably even better this time around.  Joy.

There is hope, however, because they just seem ripe to be upset.  For whatever reason they generally don't blow teams out, and let teams that are inferior to them hang around most of the game.  It hasn't hurt them yet, but it's been close.  Add in their close, down-to-wire wins they've had on the road, including games against Northwestern (without Shurna), Illinois, Iowa, and Michigan, and this game could be had by a good Gopher team.

But are they good?  Frankly, I don't know.  It's hard to get a handle on them post-Nolen, whether they're the team that looked so good and fluid against Michigan and Northwestern, or the team that struggled to run an offense against Purdue and Indiana.  Personally, I think it's closer to the latter, and Ohio State not only has a variety of defenders they can put on Hoffarber and force the offense to start too far out, too far on the wing, and with the wrong person, but they also have the size to negate the 3-big attack Minnesota can trot out, and that's even assuming someone can get them the ball.

No, this one's not going to be close.  The Gophers just need to concentrate on winning their remaining home games and beating one of Penn State, Iowa, or Northwestern on the road.  Do that, and they're comfortably in the tournament no matter what happens in the Big Ten tourney.  Lose all your road games or drop a home game, and things are more interesting, by which I mean less interesting and more painful.

Lastly, word out of North Carolina is Larry Drew II has left the Heels, and I say Tubby goes and gets him.  Yes, he'd have to sit out a year and yes, he'd only have one year of eligibility left and yes, he was a bit of a disappointment at UNC, but this ain't North Carolina and I don't see anything resembling a point guard coming on the horizon.  Two reasons to believe it's possible and they're both the same:  his dad is the coach of the Atlanta Hawks.  NBA connection to Tubby.  Atlanta connection to Tubby.  Believe it.

And don't worry about Sunday's game.  It won't be close.

Ohio State 107, Gophers 54.

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