Last week, the Gophers picked up a signature win.
But is it really?
Suddenly, a victory over ranked Ohio State is becoming a very popular feather in various teams' caps, and the more the Buckeyes struggle, the more the Minnesota conquering is starting to lose its luster.
Things were getting concerning for Ohio State when it extended its losing streak to three at the Barn on Thursday. The Buckeyes had already dropped consecutive games at Michigan State and against Iowa -- a very tough stretch no doubt. Then they fell to the Gophers, who, hey, just might be better than we thought they were -- at least that was the mindset after the big home win over the Buckeyes.
But last night Ohio State took its slump to the next level, falling, 68-62 to a Nebraska team that up until that point had lost all five Big Ten games it had played.
What's going on in Columbus?
After jumping as high as No. 3 in the AP rankings at one point, the Buckeyes are starting to look very, very human. The three-game losing streak dropped them from No. 11 to No. 17 yesterday, but there is no doubt that if the rankings had come out a day later, they'd be booted all together.
We thought at the beginning of the season that this team had such high potential because of their strong defensive returnees, the ritual of good basketball in Thad Matta's squads and the expectation that LaQuinton Ross would take the next step.
But particularly in the last three games, Ohio State has been so poor offensively that they can be beat -- and are getting beat -- by anyone. Ross is probably the Buckeyes' best scorer, as predicted, but he's been terribly inconsistent -- last night he had just 11 points -- and Ohio State doesn't have the offensive depth to make up for that. In the last three games, the Buckeyes have shot a combined 40 percent from the field, not reaching that mark in the last two.
They've been particularly bad on the inside, where they've scored just 80 points in the paint in the last three games, while giving up 119, and getting out-rebounded, 112-82 in that stretch. Defensively, they haven't been much better, certainly not close to what's been billed. While containing opponents on the perimeter (a combined 22 percent from behind the arc for Iowa, Minnesota and Nebraska), the Buckeyes have let teams do whatever they want inside. In the last three games, opponents have shot an incredibly good 60 percent of two pointers, according to kenpom.com.
While the Michigan State loss was kind of fluky, the Iowa loss a matter of simply getting beat by a good team, it's the last two games where things have really fallen apart for Ohio State.
The downside of that, of course, for the Gophers, is that with "special" pollish on that victory wearing off, Minnesota becomes a big questionmark all over again. If Ohio State ultimately lands somewhere in the middle of the pack -- that's looking more and more likely -- what does that do for the Gophers?
Aside from the Buckeyes, Minnesota has only managed to get wins over Purdue and Penn State so far.
What do we have in this 2013-14 Gophers team? We thought we were starting to get an idea, but it appears we still don't know.