Number 1 ranked Buckeyes Try to Stay Undefeated at Number 20 Gophers

Ohio St Buckeyes at Minnesota Golden Gophers, Williams Arena, Minneapolis, MN
Saturday, February 6, 2011, 2:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: Ohio St -6
Current Line: Ohio St -5 1/2
Opening Total: 136
Current Total: 136
Money Line: Ohio St -220 / Minnesota +180

David Lighty and the Ohio St Buckeyes are undefeated and ranked #1 in the country. They take on the #20 Minnesota Golden Gophers in Minneapolis in a crucial Big Ten showdown.

The Ohio St Buckeyes are 23-0 overall and 10-0 in the Big Ten. They are ranked #1 in both polls. They put their undefeated record on the line as they travel to Minneapolis to play the Minnesota Golden Gophers in an arena nicknamed “The Barn.” Minnesota is ranked #20 in the coaches’ poll and #18 in the AP poll. The Gophers are 16-6 overall and 5-5 in conference. Ohio St beat Minnesota in Columbus January 9 67-64. The Buckeyes have additional wins over Florida, Florida St, South Carolina, Indiana, Iowa twice, Michigan twice, Penn St, Illinois, Purdue, and Northwestern. Ohio St beat Michigan 62-53 at home Thursday night in their last game. Minnesota has losses to Virginia, Wisconsin, Michigan St, Purdue, and Indiana in addition to the Ohio St loss. The Gophers have lost 2 in a row on the road at Purdue and Indiana. Minnesota lost to the Hoosiers Wednesday night 60-57 in Bloomington.  The Gophers have wins over North Carolina, West Virginia, Cornell, St. Joseph’s, Indiana, Purdue, Iowa, Michigan, and Northwestern. Ohio St leads the overall series against Minnesota 77-55 but the Gophers are 37-28 in Minneapolis. Ohio St is 4-2 straight up in the last 6 but they teams are tied against the number in those match-ups. Four of the last six have gone under this series.

Ohio st has no significant injuries right now. The Buckeyes have four players averaging double digit scoring. Freshman Forward Jared Sullinger is averaging 18 points, 10.1 rebounds, 1.4 assists, and 1 steal a game. He leads the team in scoring and rebounding with a double-double average. Guard William Buford averages 13.5 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 3.2 assists a game. Guard/forward David Lighty averages 12.2 points, 4 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 1.6 steals a game. Guard Jon Diebler averages 11.2 points, 2.2 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.2 steals a game. Aaron Craft leads the team in assists with 4.7 a game and steals with 1.7 a game. Dallas Lauderdale leads the team in blocks with 1.8 a game. Ohio St is outscoring opponents 78-57 on the season. The Buckeyes shoot 49.8% from the field and 40.5% from 3-point range. Buckeye opponents are shooting 41.1% from the field. The Buckeyes shoot 69.1% from the free throw line. The Buckeyes average 35.2 rebounds, and have a rebounding margin of +5.1. Ohio St averages 16.8 assists, and 10.9 turnovers a game. They force 16.4 turnovers a game on defense. The Buckeyes average 7.5 steals and 3.5 blocks a game.

Minnesota guard Al Nolan is out for at least another 3 weeks with a broken foot. Nolan averages 8.4 points, 3.6 rebounds, 3.7 assists, and leads the team in steals with 2.4 a game. Three Gophers average double figure scoring.  Guard Devoe Joseph left the team and transferred to Oregon. He was averaging 11.3 points, 3.5 assists, and 2.3 rebounds a game, but he only played in 8 games for the Gophers. Guard Blake Hoffarber averages 14.1 points to lead the team,  3.3 rebounds, 4.1 assists to lead the team, and 1.1 steals a game. Forward Trevor  Mbakwe is averaging 13.3 points, 10.5 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 1 steal and 1.6 blocks a game. Junior forward/center Ralph Sampson III averages 10.7 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and leads the team in blocks with 2.1 a game.  Minnesota is outscoring opponents 72-67 on the season. The Gophers are shooting 46.4% from the field and 32.9% from 3-point range. Minnesota is holding opponents to 39.4% shooting from the field. Minnesota makes 64.7% from the free throw line. Minnesota pulls down 39 rebounds a game and has a rebounding margin of +5.4. The Gophers average 15.8 assists and 13.5 turnovers a game. They force 12.3 turnovers a game on defense. Minnesota averages 7.2 steals and 5.9 blocks a game on defense.

Minnesota will certainly miss the play making ability of Nolan. There is no guarantee he will return in time for the tournament season. Ohio St has played some close games in the Big Ten schedule, so they aren’t completely invincible. Last Saturday, The Buckeyes escaped with a one point victory at Northwestern. In conference, Ohio St is only winning by an average of 9.3 points a game. Minnesota is a tough place to play, and I think they can hang with the Buckeyes.

Our college basketball handicappers are red hot in 2011. Don’t miss out on any more winners this season.

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