Preview: #2 Ohio State at Michigan

By Kyle Rowland on January 12, 2011 at 1:00p
31 Comments
Presumably okay with gay folk.The Ann Arbor Two-Step?
Ohio State Buckeyes #2 Ohio State 16-0, 3-0 Big Ten Roster | Schedule 6:30 PM ET - BTN —— Crisler Arena Ann Arbor, MI Michigan Wolverines Michigan 11-5, 1-2 Big Ten Roster | Schedule

Coming off a too-close-for-comfort win against Minnesota Sunday, Ohio State travels to enemy territory to take on the Michigan Wolverines. Michigan played a similar contest Sunday, but came up short. Hosting No. 3 and undefeated Kansas, like Minnesota, Michigan had a furious rally late in the second half to send the game into overtime. However, they would end up on the wrong side of 67-60 final score. 

While Michigan enters the game 11-5 and 1-2 in the conference, that record is somewhat deceiving. Their five losses have comes to teams with a combined 71-8 record. There is no doubt Michigan's schedule prepared them well for the Big Ten season. Unless Jared Sullinger gets in foul trouble, the one area Michigan might be able to slow down Ohio State is behind the arc. The Wolverines have the third-best three-point field goal percentage defense in the conference. That in-your-face-defense will need to be on display tonight or Michigan has almost zero chance at victory. Their offense also needs to limit its turnovers. They've been averaging just 11 turnovers a game, so mistake free basketball is a possibility.

Michigan will likely try to slow the pace of the game down. They've been successful with it at times this year against talented teams. Obviously, Ohio State would like to play at a breakneck speed. The Buckeyes must be patient. In the past, teams have given OSU fits with the slow speed. 

# Name PTS REB ASST POS # Name PTS REB ASST
44 William Buford 13.3 4.1 3.7 G 4 Darius Morris 15.2 3.4 7.3
33 Jon Diebler 12.3 1.9 2.6 G 10 Tim Hardaway Jr. 11.3 3.8 1.6
23 David Lighty 13.1 4.0 3.6 F 0 Zack Novak 8.8 7.2 1.3
0 Jared Sullinger 17.9 10.3 1.1 F 23 Evan Smotrycz 6.6 2.5 0.9
52 Dallas Lauderdale 4.9 4.8 0.2 C 52 Jordan Morgan 8.9 6.3 0.7

Opponent

Ohio State will be the third Top 4 team Michigan has played this season. Along with No. 3 Kansas, the Wolverines also tangled with fourth-ranked Syracuse (and lost 53-50) in Atlantic City, NJ. Michigan has done well against the nation's elite and the tough schedule has toughened up one of the youngest teams in the nation. Eleven of Michigan's 15 players are underclassmen. After being known more as a defender his freshman season,  sophomore point guard Darius Morris has emerged as one of the best young players in the Big Ten, averaging over 15.2 points and 7.3 assists (fourth-best in the country) a game. He also has a assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.7. 

Make no mistake, though. Zack Novak is the motor that keeps this team running. He is all about attitude and toughness. Not too many players in the country are going to out hustle the gritty Novak. He is averaging nearly nine points a game to go along with seven rebounds. Novak has had four double-doubles this season, including one Sunday against Kansas. We all hear about Jared Sullinger's exploits frequently. Anyone know who's the second leading scorer among freshman in the Big Ten? Tim Hardaway Jr. The son of the former Run TMC member is putting up 11.3 points a game for the Wolverines. As many freshman are, Hardaway is very inconsistent and prone to throwing up ill-advised shots. 

Buckeye Breakdown:

To go along with Michigan's deliberate pace, they will also employ a zone defense. The thinking is that they can limit Sullinger's touches. We'll see if it works. So far this season, Ohio State's opponents have tried various defenses to try and limit Sullinger. There is yet to be that perfect remedy. Michigan is at a distinct disadvantage down low - both height wise and in terms of physicality. If Michigan sticks with a zone, don't be surprised if Ohio State's shooters torch them. That seems to happen frequently. Diebler, Buford, Lighty, Thomas, etc. might light up the scoreboard. 

Another key for the Wolverine defense tonight: Jordan Morgan. The redshirt freshman has turned into a beast down low. Morgan has already gone up against a pair of 7-footers when the Wolverines took on Utah. He and Michigan both came out victorious. His field goal percentage is on par with that of Dallas Lauderdale. Most of that has to do with taking high-percentage shots. But he is also averaging near 3.5 offensive rebounds a game. Through 16 games, Morgan is averaging 9 points and 6.3 rebounds. If he doesn't show up tonight, Michigan has no chance at winning.  

It is always tough to win on the road in the Big Ten, and it looks like this season is the toughest of them all. Ohio State had a major test in Iowa City, while Penn State has knocked off two ranked opponents (Michigan State and Illinois) in the past three days. After losing in Ann Arbor last season and the fact that Michigan is 10-2 at home this year, the Buckeyes know they are going to get Michigan's best shot. One stat on OSU's side: Michigan has lost 10 straight games to ranked opponents. Four of those games have come in Crisler Arena.  A win would match the third-best start in school history. Ohio State won its first 17 games to open the 1990-91 season. The best start came in 1960-61 when the Buckeyes were 27-0 before losing in the national championship game. The next season, they won the first 22 games. While it might not be a focal point, the team is aware of where they reside in Buckeye basketball history. 

Etc

  • Ohio State has won 12 of its past 13 games against Michigan when ranked. 
  • The Buckeyes lead the all-time series with the Wolverines, 87-71.
  • Michigan leads the series in Ann Arbor, 44-35. 
  • Ohio State is 29-4 vs. Michigan when ranked.  
31 Comments

Comments

The_Lurker's picture

Can't sleep on the Wolvies. They've given some great teams (Kansas, Syracuse, etc.) all they can handle. A young team that bears watching.

Corey Carpenter's picture

I think that is the great thing about this team, they are veterans and understand the fact you can't overlook any team. How ironic is it that OSU played in Ann Arbor when RR was hired, I'm sure Hokey will talk tonight at halftime.

UM is capable of making runs, but watch how frustrated Morris will get tonight after about 20 minutes of tough Buckeye defense.

The_Lurker's picture

BTW...Gus Johnson and Jim Jackson on the call on the BTN tonight. WIN!

Corey Carpenter's picture

Love the new BTN commercial featuring the Gus Johnson calls.

tomcollins's picture

Gus Johnson on the call worries me.

Is it Saturday Yet's picture

Nervous about this game.  Michigan is a decent team, we are on the road and their new fb coach may do some talking at half time.  With all that, I have to agree with Antonio Cromartie.

Chris Lauderback's picture

I don't think we'll overlook these dudes at all but it's still a conference roadie so anything can happen. That said, I think we blow up their zone with threes and win by 10+.

Morris has a tendency to get out of control - hoping Craft can exploit that on defense.

Jason Priestas's picture

Want to set the mood a little before we tip things off:

ERIC OSU's picture

still get chills watching that video..... love the quick handshake tonight between Thad and Beilein; was it ever confirmed that Beilein was the one who didnt vote for ET?

tomcollins's picture

I was watching that at work and let out a huge scream.  My boss came running over, fortunately he thought it was funny.

Powers's picture

haha. feet clearly still moving. home call.

TLB's picture

Little tight early

TLB's picture

I wish they would let them play a little

tomcollins's picture

Let them hang around, blow them out late.

Is it Saturday Yet's picture

Have to hit pause on the DVR....

tomcollins's picture

I wonder when I'll ever be nervous about this team outside of the last 2 minutes.  Even then, it's hard to get really nervous.

TLB's picture

I wonder when we will get real officials

Joe Beale's picture

Sully in foul trouble?

Joe Beale's picture

This is a little too tight for my taste.  

TLB's picture

wow.  not a good call

Bish's picture

Think they could flop a little more?

TLB's picture

31 fouls in this game

TLB's picture

Not pretty, but thats 3 league road wins

Jason Priestas's picture

Exactly. Will take those regardless of the margin.

ERIC OSU's picture

I'll take that score ANY day on the road; against iowa, mich... whoever in the Big 10. Craft cooooool as the other side of the pillow at the charity stripe

Sofa Kingdom's picture

Hey doesn't B.J. stand for .......?  Why do Michigan people all have that douchey look to them?