Gameday Preview: OSU at Michigan

By Corey Carpenter on February 16, 2008 at 4:56p
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koufos.jpgWill this emotion continue for the season? (AP photo)
Ohio State Buckeyes Ohio State 17-8, 8-4 Big Ten Roster | Schedule 1:00 PM ET - CBS —— Crisler Arena Ann Arbor, MI Michigan Wolverines Michigan 7-17, 3-9 Big Ten Roster | Schedule

OPPONENT: The first part of the West Virginia experiment is going as planned for Buckeye fans. Michigan still has the worst overall record in the conference, despite winning their last two games and will be looking to extend their season high win streak.

Michigan actually lead Ohio State at the half in their first meeting, before Ohio State turned up the defensive intensity and ended the game on a 9-0 run to win 65-55. Nothing would be sweeter for Michigan than a chance to play spoiler to any tournament dreams the Buckeyes have.

I know Beilein has 550 career victories and is considered a good "system" coach, but he has dug himself a huge hole and it will be interesting to see if he can get out of it by next year. Michigan ranks dead last in conference shooting, coming in with a 40 percent clip overall and 30.5 percent from downtown. They have shot over 45 percent in each of their last two games, so Ohio State will have to challenge their shots from the opening tip.

UM comes in averaging 61.5 points a game and gives up 68.5 points within the conference. Teams are shooting 47.4 percent against Michigan and outrebounding them by almost three a game. The only positive stat for Michigan is their 5 blocks a game, which is tops in the Big Ten.

KEY PLAYERS: Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims combine to score 44 percent of Michigan's points. Harris, the 6'5" freshman from Detroit leads this team in points (15.8), assists (2.9), steals (1.9), minutes (32.7) and FT percentage at 81. He struggled against OSU the first time around, registering just 7 points, no rebounds and three assists. Sims comes in scoring 12.7 points per contest, while also leading the team with 4.8 rebounds a game. He too struggled against Ohio State with 6 points and 3 boards in only 15 minutes of play.

Ekpe Udoh, a 6'10" sophomore leads the Big Ten in blocks at 2.6 per game within conference play and chips in with 6 points and 4.7 rebounds. Ron Coleman is the only senior starter and continues UM's recent trend of underacheiving seniors. The 6'6" swingman is scoring 5.8 points per game, shooting just 39 percent from the floor and 29 percent from seep.

Kelvin Grady, a 5'11" freshman point guard rounds out the starting five. He is scoring 5.6 per contest, dishing out 2.8 assists, and had his best game against Iowa Thursday with 9 assists and zero turnovers. Grady has not turned it over in the last two games.

Anthony Wright has developed into Michigan's sixth man and saw a career high 25 minutes in the first meeting with OSU. For the season he is averaging 4.5 points and almost 3 caroms. Zack Gibson and Jevohn Shepard will also see some action, accounting for 10 points and 5 boards a game.

NOTES: Michigan has the second toughest schedule according to Sagarin and eighth in the RPI... This is the 40th year for Crisler Arena, with Michigan going 421-117 (doesn't include forfeited games)... John Beilein is 6-4 in the NCAA tournament and 14-6 in the NIT... Michigan has not been ranked since Feb. 6 2006 (22)


BUCKEYE BREAKDOWN: Ohio State will be looking to grab their fourth road victory in conference play and will have a week off before the final stretch of Whisky, @Indiana, @Minn, Purdue and Sparty. A loss to Michigan would be another black mark on the Buckeyes tournament resume', but I still think if they can win three of these games, they will be dancing in March.

IMO, it is critical Ohio State continues to look inside right away, their success in there against Michigan two weeks ago and again Wednesday night is an indication the post entry passes have to continue. Hunter and Koufos combined for 27 points and 16 rebounds in the first meeting and they registered 30 points and 16 boards Wednesday. Any successful team needs an inside game to open up the three and put pressure on the defense.

Ohio State's defense is still rated sixth nationally for FG shooting at 36.7 percent. We all know this team has been frustrating offensively at times, but Thad's old school defensive philosophy is what this team has hung their hats on. Another impressive aspect of this D is the lack of fouls committed. The Baby Bucks lead the nation in fewest fouls at 13.8 per game, limiting opponent's free throw attempts and keeping them in games where the offensive sputters.

KEY PLAYERS: Most of us have been critical of Kosta's softness all season, but he might be on a mission to prove us wrong, thankfully. He has scored in double digits eight straight games and has averaged 15 points and 8 boards over his last three. I think it was the Michigan game where he started to show some emotion and his stats have reflected it. His arsenal continues to grow and I hope a late season push doesn't change his plans for next year.

Diebler continues to be the streakiest shooter I have ever witnessed, scoring over 12 points a game in his last three and connecting on 9-19 three point attempts. He started this recent break out against Michigan, after scoring only 10 points in the previous 6 games. Crisler Arena will be another new background for Diebler, as he has yet to score double digits on the road.

Jamar became Ohio State's all time assists leader Wednesday, but continued his recent shooting woes. While Butler did hit four three's, he has not made more than 4 field goals in his last four games and has not attempted a free throw since Iowa. The schedule has set up nicely this past week, so Butler's legs should be fresh. I think Butler has a great game tomorrow, as he is looking to repeat what the football seniors just did, leave Ohio State having never lost to Michigan.

Which David Lighty and Evan Turner show up today? These two may play a large part in Ohio State's destiny. If they can show up the remainder of the season, we might have an exciting post season.

NOTES: Jamar and Terwilliger will be looking to set the career wins mark with 99... Butler is 12th nationally in assists... Jamar Butler has made more threes (207) than free throws (206) in his career...Verne Lundquist and Clark Kellog will be doing the game.

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