Opponent Preview: Ohio State

The Golden Gophers are looking to bounce back from a road loss to Indiana tonight when they face the top-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes. Tip-off at Williams Arena is set for 1:00 p.m. and will be televised by ESPN.

No. 20 Minnesota (16-6, 5-5) vs. No. 1 Ohio State (23-0, 10-0)
Minneapolis, Minn. – Williams Arena
1:00 p.m. CT – ESPN (Dave O'Brien, Dan Dakich)

Quotable

"I think we did a good job of handling Minnesota's defense. I knew that when I got the ball in the post that I would be double teamed, and I just tried to make the right plays. It was a tough game." – Ohio State freshman Jarred Sullinger following the last game between the two teams.

PREGAME NOTES

Season to Date: : It is no secret why Ohio State is the best team in the country. With outside scoring from David Lighty, Jon Diebler and William Buford combined with the inside presense of freshman phenom Jared Sullinger, the Buckeyes untainted record is no fluke. Sitting at an incredible 23-0, Ohio State looks poised to runaway with the conference title.

Coaching Preview: Thad Matta is in his 7th season as the head coach at Ohio State. He has compiled a 179-54 record at OSU including going 6-6 against Minnesota. In 10 years as a collegiate head coach, Matta has manufactured 20 or more victories each year. Prior to joining the Buckeyes he coached three years at Xavier and one at Butler, his alma mater.

Series History: Ohio State leads the all-time series with Minnesota 77-55. They hold a 48-18 advantage when playing at home in Columbus. The Buckeyes have won three of their last five meetings against the Golden Gophers included a victory in the Big Ten championship game.

Last Meeting: : In early Janruary when the Gophers traveled to play the Buckeyes, Ohio State looked as though they were running away with the game before a near-historic comeback by the Gophers that came up just three points short. Trevor Mbakwe and Jared Sullinger battled for big man supremecy, each recording double-doubles in the affair.

Fabulous Freshmen:Jared Sullinger and teammate Deshaun Thomas give the Buckeyes the most potent offensive freshmen duo in the Big Ten. Sullinger averages 18.0 points per game and Thomas supplies 8.9 points per game. They also get after it on the glass with the 6-foot-9 Sullinger pulling down 10.1 rebounds a game to lead Big Ten rookies while the 6-foot-6 Thomas ranks fourth with 4.0 rebounds per game. Sullinger and Thomas have combined to earn all 12 Big Ten Conference Freshman of the Week awards this season with Sullinger winning it 10 times and Thomas twice.

Stat to Watch: Senior guard Jon Diebler is fifth in the conference in three-point shooting percentage with an average of .474 (65-137). He is averaging 2.83 made 3-pointers per game, tops in the conference.

Projected Starters:
52 Dallas Lauderdale (6-8, 255, Sr.) – 4.4 ppg, 3.8 rpg
00 Jared Sullinger (6-9, 280, Fr.) – 18.0 ppg, 10.1 rpg
23 David Lighty (6-5, 220, Sr.) – 13.5 ppg, 3.8 apg
33 Jon Diebler (6-6, 205, Sr.) – 11.2ppg, 2.2 apg
44 William Buford (6-5, 205, Jr.) – 12.2 ppg, 4.0 apg

Background:
Location: Columbus, Ohio
Enrollment: 55,014
Conference: Big Ten
Nickname: Buckeyes
Mascot: Brutus Buckeye
Colors: Scarlet and Gray
Coach: Thad Matta (7th season)


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