Tonight’s game against Ohio State will likely be the Gophers’ biggest challenge of the season. It might also be their biggest opportunity.
The Gophers (5-7 in the conference) are in dire need of another signature win – not to mention a win in general. And if this team is going to make a Hail Mary push for an NCAA tournament bid, what better way to start than with a win over the best team in the league?
Now, of course, that’s easier said than done. Ohio State is big, physical, strong offensively and defensively and knows how to win. Against a similarly tough team, Michigan State, the Gophers were simply out-muscled.
But hey, this is college basketball. Anything’s possible, right?
Three things that could be key to a huge upset:
1. Using their smallness to their advantage. The Gophers look to throw out a pretty small lineup tonight – with Andre Hollins slated to replace Joe Coleman and the frontcourt already at a size disadvantage. Can they make the most of their quickness to out-speed the Buckeyes?
2. A dominant performance from at least two players in the lineup. Andre Hollins had a stellar performance against Wisconsin, which earned him a spot in the starting lineup. But he’s not the only one expected to step up. Rodney Williams needs to be the team’s much-needed leader. And there needs to be another huge performance. From who? Anyone.
3. Stopping Jared Sullinger. Double-team him. Triple-team him. Scream in his face. It’s a very, very tough task and it will be interesting to see how the Gophers attack it, but limiting the Buckeyes' big-man could make the difference in the game.