Already?! Gophers face 'must win' against Ohio State

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It's early January, months before Selection Sunday, but Tom Dienhart of Big Ten Network is already calling the Gophers-Ohio State game on Tuesday a "must win" for Minnesota.

"Ohio State at Minnesota, Tuesday. It’s hard to say any game in early January is a “must win,” but the Gophers need to protect their home court vs. a Buckeyes squad that is still finding its way. Richard Pitino’s squad is one of just three Big Ten clubs unbeaten at home. Minnesota is off to an 0-2 start in the Big Ten, falling at Purdue and at Maryland. It needs this victory vs. a Buckeyes squad that hasn’t won on the road."

The Gophers (11-4, 0-2) have dropped back-to-back road games to open up the conference portion of their schedule: a 72-68 defeat against Purdue and a 70-58 loss to 12th-ranked Maryland (14-1, 2-0) on Saturday.

The most recent of the two defeats wasn't as painful for Minnesota head coach Richard Pitino considering the Terrapins are one of the top teams in the country.

"I think it’s a top-10 team in the country on the road,” Pitino said after the loss, according to the Star Tribune. “I think it’s pretty simple. We got beat by a top-10 team in the country on the road. A very talented team and a very well-coached team.

“We knew these first two games would be very difficult. We’re excited to go back home. We need to go back home and get some confidence back.”

They return to Minneaplis for a date with the Buckeyes (12-3, 1-1) in Tuesday night's home opener at Williams Arena. Ohio State, according the Columbus Dispatch, is as desperate for a win as Minnesota because four of their next five are on the road. Despite many students still on break between semesters, "The Barn" should be loud.

After the Buckeyes the Gophers play two of three at home: at Michigan followed by home contests against Iowa and Rutgers. Check out the full schedule at GopherSports.com.

The Purdue loss stung Pitino a bit more considering they were up by 11 points at the half, as reported by the Lafayette Journal and Courier.

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