Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers Analysis & Predictions 12/15/19

by | Dec 15, 2019 | cbb

Ohio State Buckeyes (9-0 SU, 8-1 ATS) vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers (4-5 SU, 5-4 ATS)

When: Saturday, December 15, 6:30 p.m.

Where: Williams Arena, Minneapolis

TV: BTN

Point Spread: OHST -8.5/MINN +8.5 (WagerWeb)

Total: O/U 128.5

Last Time Out:

Ohio State routed Penn State 106-74; Minnesota lost 72-52 at Iowa.

Scouting the Buckeyes:

Forget the hype with Michigan State, because it looks like Ohio State might actually have the Big Ten’s best team. The Buckeyes showed that they could win with offense just as well as defense when they crushed Penn State 106-74, a win that only looked more impressive when the Nittany Lions turned around and beat Maryland.

What makes the Buckeyes go is a three-legged stool of Kaleb Wesson, tough defense and strong rebounding. The Buckeyes average more than 41 rebounds per game, and they’ve held everyone but Penn State to under 57 points this season. This is a proud team that is likely to want to prove that its defensive performance against the Nittany Lions was just a fluke, and that’s not good news for a struggling Minnesota squad. Other than Wesson, Ohio State’s scoring is pretty balanced, and the points can come from any of seven different players.

Scouting the Golden Gophers:

Unlike Ohio State, Minnesota’s depth is virtually nonexistent. The Gophers’ starting five has done a good job of handling the scoring, averaging 61 of the Gophers’ 70 points per game. But that means they’re on the court a lot, and that can really wear a team down. Minnesota certainly appeared worn down by Iowa, as the Hawkeyes blew past the Gophers in a game that was never really in doubt.

Daniel Oturu has done an admirable job at center, averaging a double-double so far. But the rest of his teammates haven’t really given him enough help to keep the Golden Gophers close enough to win games. Minnesota’s lack of scoring has been evident against Power 6 opponents, as the Gophers have been held under 70 points in five of their six games against power conference opposition. Only Clemson couldn’t stop Minnesota, conceding 78 to the Gophers. Otherwise, Minnesota has averaged a mere 61.4 points per game against top opposition, hardly confidence-inspiring in this situation.

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X-Factor:

The Williams Arena crowd. Will Richard Pitino’s plea really work? Pitino called for Minnesota fans to pack the arena known as the Barn for this game, but it’s a Sunday evening game that conflicts with a Minnesota Vikings road game. Like it or not, Minneapolis is a pro town first and foremost, and with the Vikings in a tight race for the NFC North, the Gophers are likely to struggle to attract much of a crowd for this game. This isn’t a good situation at all in terms of a home atmosphere for Minnesota.

Ohio State will Cover if:

The Buckeyes play the type of defense they have everywhere except the Penn State game. Ohio State has been a defense-first operation all year, so it was a little surprising to see the Nittany Lions reach the 70s against a rock-solid Ohio State defense. If the Buckeyes can step up on the defensive end, this won’t be close.

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Minnesota will Cover if:

The Gophers can keep Ohio State from extending their possessions. Minnesota isn’t on the same level as Ohio State talent-wise, so the Gophers will need to mitigate the Buckeyes’ advantages; however, they can. Slowing the game down and keeping Ohio State from getting multiple looks at the basket would make a big difference in their efforts.

Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread:

Honestly, I cannot see much of a reason to take Minnesota here. The Buckeyes are rested, having not played in eight days. They’re going to come in hungry, as they didn’t play well at all on defense and let Penn State put up far more points than they’re accustomed to. They’re playing a team that isn’t going to have a significant home-court advantage in this game and is likely going to be in a dead situation after a 20-point loss to a mediocre Iowa team.

This doesn’t seem to be the kind of recipe that says trap game to me. This seems to be the kind of recipe that says blowout, and that’s before you throw in Minnesota’s lack of depth compared to Ohio State’s wave of players. The Buckeyes can wear teams down over time, which is exactly what happened to Penn State. The Nittany Lions played with the Buckeyes well for 30 minutes, but faded badly down the stretch. Ohio State seems to have that extra gear that only great teams have, and Minnesota isn’t going to be able to respond if the Buckeyes trigger it.

This spread seems too low. Give me Ohio State.