Preview: #3 Ohio State vs #2 Michigan

By Chris Lauderback on March 10, 2012 at 10:10a
AP: Charles OsorioDT's averaging 18.5 pts, 9.5 reb vs. UM in '11
Ohio State Buckeyes #3 Ohio State 26-6, 13-5 Big Ten Roster | Schedule 4:10 PM ET - CBS —— Bankers Life Fieldhouse Indianapolis, IN Michigan Wolverines #2 Michigan 24-8, 13-5 Big Ten Roster | Schedule

Champions of the last two B1G tournaments and winners in 14 of their last 17 games in league post-season play including last night's 88-71 win over Purdue, the Buckeyes now get down to business taking on a Michigan squad that joined OSU and Sparty as regular season conference champs. 

These two split the regular season series with each winning on their home floor, the Bucks back in late January and Michigan in mid February

In the first meeting, Lenzelle Smith Jr. led four Buckeyes in double figures with 17 points and 12 boards as OSU used a 14-2 run in the 2nd half to post a 15 point win. Jared Sullinger strugged to get going in a clogged lane and became frustrated on the way to 13 points. Ohio State controlled the glass 37-22 including 14 on the offensive backboard led by eight from Smith and the Buckeyes shot 14 more free throws as Michigan was overly content to shoot deep jumpers. 

The rematch in Ann Arbor was an entirely different story with Trey Burke dominating Aaron Craft in crunch time, the offense struggling to find an identity and William Buford being at the focal point of that with a 3/12 shooting night, good for six points. Sully was again frustrated by double teams at times, managing 14 and 8, and Michigan used swarming traps on ball screens for Craft to disrupt the Buckeye attack. Deshaun Thomas kept the Buckeyes close with 25 points and a career high 14 boards but OSU never led, falling out of 1st place in the process.  

If the chirping in the arena yesterday by the OSU and UM fans is any indication of how the players will go at it, today's rubber match will be a knock down, drag 'em out.

4 A. Craft SO 6-2/190 8.6 3.0 4.5 G 3 T. Burke FR 5-11/180 14.6 3.4 4.6
32 L. Smith Jr. SO 6-4/205 6.0 4.6 2.1 G 1 S. Douglass SR 6-3/200 7.7 2.6 2.4
44 W. Buford SR 6-6/220 15.1 4.9 2.9 F 0 Z. Novak SR 6-4/210 9.5 4.6 1.9
1 D. Thomas SO 6-7/225 15.1 4.9 0.9 F 10 T. Hardaway Jr. SO 6-6/200 14.5 3.8 2.2
0 J. Sullinger SO 6-9/265 16.9 9.3 1.2 C 52 J. Morgan SO 6-8/250 7.5 5.6 0.3


Outside of Burke's magical 30 point performance (11/14 FG) in which he played all 45 minutes, the Wolverines were largely unimpressive in yesterday's 73-69 OT win over Minnesota. Unable to gain any separation as Minnesota worked them on the glass leading to a 41-41 tie with just under nine minutes to play, the Wolverines surrendered what looked like a knockout blow as the Gophers used a 13-4 run to take a 54-45 lead with just 4:33 to play. 

To their credit, Michigan responded with an 11-2 run to force overtime via a layup from Burke, a couple threes from Zack Novak and a game tying trey from Evan Smotrycz while holding the Gophers to 1/6 shooting with a pair of turnovers. The comeback set up the culmination of the Trey Burke Show as he scored nine of Michigan's 17 points in the extra session. 

Tim Hardaway Jr. was Burke's only teammate in double figures with 20. 

Michigan was shredded on the glass 37-25 but did force 16 Gopher turnovers. In both previous matchups, the Wolverines struggled to keep OSU off the glass losing the battle 38-29 in the loss in Columbus and 34-25 in the win in Ann Arbor. 

Shooting 36% from distance on the year, Michigan connected on only 29% (11/38) in the two outings against OSU. How well the Buckeyes defend the three today will likely go a long way in determining a winner as Michigan takes 45% of the FGA's from beyond the arc. By comparison, Ohio State takes 26% of their FGA's from distance. 

Buckeye Breakdown

Thad Matta's crew earned a trip to the tourney semifinals for the fifth time in eight tries with an 88-71 decision last night over Purdue. 

The Buckeyes looked impressive for stretches but still found themselves up just three with eight minutes to play before unloading on the Boilers with a 17-3 run over the next four and a half minutes to take control of the game 79-61 with 3:32 left before cruising to the 17 point victory. 

Sully's averaging 27.3 pts and 13.0 rebs in 4 BTT games

Sullinger had a nationally-quiet monster performance with 30 points on the strength of 12/17 shooting along with 12 boards and three blocks. Thomas was also a beast adding 22 points on 9/13 sharp shooting with seven boards including a couple clutch putbacks.

Buford was quiet offensively until the 17-3 spurt saw him drop in two and-1's and a trey from the right corner enabling him to finish with 11 points, six boards and five assists.

The Buckeyes surrendered 12 triples to Purdue (12/26, 42%) as the Boilers connected on 6/13 in each half. Purdue burned the Buckeyes in Columbus with an 11/19 night from beyond the arc (58%) as Matta employed a fight over the ball screen strategy so last night he flipped the script having the OSU defenders switch on such screens. Neither scheme worked overly well but OSU won both games and it will be interesting to see how Matta opts to try and slow Michigan's long range attack.

In conjunction with a focus on defending the three, the another major deciding factor today will obviously be the Craft/Burke matchup. Burke looked like this should be his last season in college yesterday and will no doubt be oozing confidence. Craft had an excellent overall floor game yesterday with the only real defect being some struggles with staying in front of Lewis Jackson in the 1st half. If he can't stay in front of Burke and take away the dribble drive, forcing him to give Burke space on the perimeter, things could get sticky. 

With Sully yet to really find his rhythm against Michigan, it will be intriguing to see if the guards can duplicate what they did yesterday, finding him in scoring spots with entry passes just as he flashed open, allowing Jared to start his offensive moves immediately thus keping keeping double teams at bay. 


  • The Buckeyes are 18-8 all-time in the B1G Tourney and are currently riding a seven game win streak.
  • Sullinger averaged 16.3 points and 14.0 boards in last year's BTT championship run despite only 66% foul shooting.
  • Craft was just one of three B1G starters in regular season play to make more than half of his FGA's (54%). 
  • Under Matta, Ohio State is 200-6 when leading with 5:00 to play.
  • Matta has won at least 26 games in five of eight seasons at Ohio State.
  • In conference play, Shannon Scott has 16 made FG's against 41 fouls. He's 1/16 from three point land (6.3%). 
  • The Buckeyes have won 15 of the last 18 against Michigan. Word. 

Comments Show All Comments

BrewstersMillions's picture

I've been on this team for a while about their inconsistency but if they show up today like they did last night, UM is in some serious trouble. Our boys were firing on all cylinders last night.

Poison nuts's picture


"Do not pass me, just slow down - I can move right through you" Superchunk - Precision Auto.

Geraffi's picture

Time for more Hate Haikus

Threepeat big ten champs
Craft and Sully win the day
Brady Hoke is fat

hammerhandle's picture

Hate to say it again...but we're gonna need the good Buford for more than one half.

hammerhandle's picture

Cause he's gonna be playing a lot of minutes

Jack Fu's picture

Pregame prep should consist of little more than this:

"Jared, last time we played these weasels, you got outplayed by Jordan Freaking Morgan. Seriously, that's all I'm gonna say."

Then stand back and (hopefully) watch some carnage.

Chris Lauderback's picture

From John Beilein is undefeated in tournament openers at U-M (5-0 BTT, 2-0 NCAA) but 0-7 in 2nd game.


LouGroza's picture

Watching the Minnesota game Friday was brutal. They look so poorly coached. Don't know whether it is the personnel or Tubby has lost it. UM should have cruised past them.

baddogmaine's picture

Yesterday was one of the last "easy" games of the year. With a second seed locked in the Buckeyes should be able to handle the first two dance partners; after that the going gets tough.

Today will be a good indication of how we might fare in the Sweet Sixteen game. Forget needing overtime to beat a weak Gopher side - scUM is OSU's worst nightmare: a solid point guard, good outside shooting, and well disciplined. This is a game we could easily lose, and in fact CBS is expecting us to do that.

For a while I've been on Matta for having all our eggs in but one basket. Not much point in that anymore, we are who we are. And this is a team that

a) needs WB to play like a senior who wants to get drafted in the first round, something he has not done enough of this year. Playing like a stud does not mean scoring 20 - it means not shooting if he can't make, and limiting his turnovers;

b) needs to have Craft on the floor. The Wolverines have no big body inside so we might be able to survive Sully sitting, but we have no other even remotely ready point guard;

c) needs to be ready to cut off Burke's drives. Burke is a guy who can beat a team by himself, who can beat even as good a defender as Craft. If Thomas and Sullinger are not ready to cut Burke off he will have a big day. I'd suggest a zone but Matta doesn't like it. and

d) the only way NW and Purdue were going to beat us was by hitting a ton of 3s. We never did stop the Wildcats, the Boilermakers hit 46% for the game but cooled off late. scUM is better than them - if they hit over 45% from long range we lose. Accomplishing both stopping Burke and still defending trhe perimiter may be a kind of pick-your-poison. Look at how KY beat us last year - that's what we need to do today.

TLB's picture

Good to see Valentine doing the Sparty game.

hammerhandle's picture

Enlighten me as to why we are 7.5 pt. favorites.

JakeBuckeye's picture

Kentucky is obviously really good in actuality. But when you look at them compared to what people hype them to be, they are not that good. They are a top team this year, but not a top team that could go down as one of the greatest as people claim. They look very beatable, Florida is just awful.

Chris Lauderback's picture

Today's officials are Kitts, Wymer and Steratore. 

Kitts is worst in conference, Steratore is in the discussion. 

osubuckeye4life's picture

Ugh, better bring a sack lunch, this is gonna be a long one. 

baddogmaine's picture

Partly star power - we have three or four NBA players and they don't. Partly beating MSU and wiping out Purdue. But neither means as much as match-ups, and I think scUM is a tough match-up for us. I think the margin should be closer to 3, and if I bet I'd take the underdog to cover at a margin bigger than 3 points.