Preview: Minnesota at Ohio State-A Huge Game for the Gophers

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota looks to sweep Ohio State and keep from sliding off of the bubble.

By the Numbers:

Minnesota

Team

Ohio State

17-10(6-8)

Record

21-6(8-6)

NR

Ranking

24

42

RPI

18

48

BPI

18

50

KenPom

14

50

Sagarin

15

Feb. 22, 2014 - Value City Arena, Columbus, Ohio

6:00 PM EST - BTN/BTN2GO

Skinny:

This game is important for Ohio State, but it could mean everything for Minnesota. The Gophers are coming off of an embarrassing home loss to Illinois, after an early 11 point lead Minnesota fell apart and lost by 13 to the last place Illini. The loss leaves them firmly on the bubble with #24 Ohio State, #15 Iowa, # 20 Michigan and Penn State left to play.  The Gophers will likely need to go at least 2-2 to maintain their position on the "in" side of the bubble.

Ohio State will be looking to continue a streak of good play and avenge a tough loss in Minneapolis earlier this season. Since that game Minnesota has gone 3-6 and hit a low point on Wednesday. On the other hand Ohio State has 6-3 in that same time and 5-1 in their last six. The Buckeyes will look to improve their potential NCAA seeding and defend their home court with a victory today.

Projected Starting Lineups:

Minnesota

Pos.

Ohio State

Deandre Mathieu

G

Lenzelle Smith Jr.

Andre Hollins

G

Aaron Craft

Austin Hollins

G-F

Sam Thompson

Joey King

F

LaQuinton Ross

Eliott Eliason

C

Amir Williams

Players to Watch:

Deandre Mathieu: Minnesota's troubles on Wednesday started after Mathieu went to the bench with early foul trouble. The junior transfer has been a sparkplug for the Gophers and when he plays poorly they usually lose.

Austin Hollins: Hollins does a little bit of everything for the Gophers. He is second on the team in rebounding, first in steals and third in points and assists.

Aaron Craft: Craft is the unquestioned leader of these Buckeyes and the senior has upped his game every year he has been in school. His defense prowess will be needed to disrupt a talented Minnesota backcourt.

LaQuinton Ross: There is some question as to whether Ross should be playing today, after inserting himself into a fight at Northwestern on Wednesday. Ross shoved Nikola Cerina after the Northwestern player threw punch at Amir Williams. Both Ross and Cernia were ejected, but the league ruled that since Cernia threw a punch he will miss tonight's game against Indiana. Ross didn't earn a suspension, but Thad Matta has to be concerned with the maturity of his fiery forward.

Minnesota Perspective:

THEY NEED THIS WIN!!!!

Sure the Gophers could still make the tournament without beating OSU, but it will be a tough road for a team that needs 2 or 3 more wins including the BTT to secure a spot

Ohio State Perspective:

Thad Matta will have these Buckeyes ready to play. A win here will bring them one step closer to a bye in the BTT with the four teams in front of them playing each other this weekend. OSU has only lost three home games this season and looked really good against Northwestern on Wednesday.

Prediction:

Minnesota is coming off their worst loss of the season. They played so poorly at home against Illinios that it is hard to imagine they will bounce back in Columbus, even with their tournament hopes hanging in the balance. Ohio State 68 Minnesota 58

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