INDIANAPOLIS -- After an entertaining week of games at Conseco Fieldhouse, top seed Ohio State and No. 6 seed Minnesota meet today to decide the Big Ten tournament championship.
Here's a quick look at the matchup:
No. 1 seed Ohio State vs. No. 6 seed Minnesota (CBS, 3:30 p.m. ET)
Records: Ohio State (26-7), Minnesota (21-12)
Season series: Minnesota beat the Buckeyes 73-62 on Jan. 9 in Evan Turner's second game back from a back injury. Gophers sharpshooter Blake Hoffarber scored a career-high 27 points with six 3-pointers in the second half at Williams Arena. Ohio State crushed Minnesota 85-63 three weeks later in Columbus, as William Buford scored a career high 26 points and the Buckeyes shot a blistering 73 percent from the floor in the first half.
Big Ten tournament history: Ohio State is making its sixth appearance -- and second straight -- in the tournament championship game. The Buckeyes won the title in 2002 and 2007 and lost in 2009, 2006 and 2003. Minnesota makes its first appearance in the tournament final.
What to watch for Ohio State: The Buckeyes are still alive (barely) for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, although they likely would need a dominant win today, plus a Duke loss in the ACC tournament final. And even then, it probably wouldn't be enough. Ohio State hasn't been dominant this week at Conseco, but Turner and his teammates keep finding ways to win. Turner is well on his way to winning Most Outstanding Player at the tournament, having averaged 24.5 points, seven assists and 6.5 rebounds in two games. The junior guard has played well in both games against the Gophers, but he'll need help today from Buford, who comes off of a strong performance (22 points, 10 rebounds) against Illinois. Buford was dealing with some bad cramps as he walked off the news conference podium Saturday, but he should be fine today. The Buckeyes got some valuable minutes off the bench from Kyle Madsen on Saturday and will need him again against Minnesota's big men, who are playing really well in the tournament.
What to watch for Minnesota: The Gophers certainly look like an NCAA tournament team right now, but they don't want to leave their fate to the selection committee. A victory today completes a stellar four-game win and clinches a tournament berth for Tubby Smith's team. Bracketolgist Joe Lunardi has the Gophers as one of his last two teams in the field. A No. 6 seed has won the Big Ten tournament only once, as Iowa pulled it off in 2001, but Minnesota has been the most impressive team in this event. The Gophers have really turned up the heat on defense and need another great effort today against Turner, who looks unstoppable. Smith continues to gush about senior forward Damian Johnson, who got snubbed from the Big Ten's All-Defense team last week. "Damian Johnson is the most versatile defensive player I've ever coached at any level," Smith said. Johnson could be a huge factor today. Point guard Devoe Joseph has been terrific for Minnesota this week, and big men Colton Iverson and Ralph Sampson turned in great performances Saturday against Purdue. No Gophers player logged more than 26 minutes Saturday, so this team will be rested. Do these Gophers have one more upset left in them?