The Minnesota Golden Gophers (21-12, 9-9) have advanced to the 2010 Big Ten Tournament championship to take on the Evan Turner led Ohio State Buckeyes (26-7, 14-4) at 3:30 PM EST. This will be Minnesota’s first appearance in the Big Ten title game. The Golden Gophers enter the game as underdogs, but have won 5 of their last 6 games and split the regular season series with the Buckeyes.
Minnesota Gophers 2010 Big Ten Championship Preview
Minnesota entered the Big Ten tourney needing several wins to have a strong shot at an at-large NCAA tourney bid. Although the Gophers have several quality wins over SDSU, Ohio State, and Wisconsin, their play during the regular season has been inconsistent placing them on the NCAA bubble.
The Gophers started out the Big Ten Tourney with a 76-55 win over Penn State and were led by Devoe Joseph who scored 15 points, Colton Iverson with 12, and Damian Johnson who had 11 points.
In the quarterfinal round, Minnesota was able to defeat the 11th ranked Michigan State Spartans, 72-67 in overtime. Devoe Joseph led Minnesota with 17 points, and Blake Hoffarber had 14 in the overtime victory.
In the semifinal game, Minnesota trounced 5th ranked Perdue, 69-42 to make it to the Big Ten championship game. Coach Smith’s team held Purdue to just 11 points in the first half and led by as many as 34 points in the second half. Even if Minnesota doesn’t win the championship game, the huge win over Perdue along with the previous victory over Michigan State is considered by many to be enough to get the Golden Gophers into the 2010 NCAA tourney.
Ohio State Buckeyes 2010 Big Ten Championship Preview
The Ohio State Buckeyes split the 2010 Big Ten regular season championship with the Purdue Boilermakers, but won the tie-breaker to be the #1 seed in the Big Ten Tournament. The Buckeyes are led by star guard/forward Evan Turner who is averaging 19.5 ppg, 9.1 rpg, and 4.5 apg.
Ohio State won their quarterfinal game against the Michigan Wolverines in dramatic fashio, with Evan Turner draining a 37 footer with time lapsing to win 69-68. Turner finished the game with 18 points, but was 1 for 8 shooting before making the game winning shot. David Lighty and William Buford each had 15 points for the Buckeyes in the victory.
The semifinal game against Illinois was just as tight for Ohio State. Evan Turner had to score 12 of his 31 points in the double overtime in order to lift the Buckeyes past the Illini, 88-81 in a tight game against one of the hottest teams in the Big Ten.
Big Ten Championship Preview
Coach Tubby Smith has won a national championship and knows how to get a team ready for the pressures of a conference title game. Ohio State has been very fortunate the past two games just to make it to the title game. Although the Buckeyes are favored in the game, you can’t discount the trouncing the Golden Gophers gave Perdue yesterday. The teams split their regular season matchups.
Big Ten Championship Prediction: A tight game, but Minnesota prevails by less than 5 points.