Preview: No. 15 Michigan at No. 22 Ohio State

By Kyle Rowland on February 11, 2014 at 5:04p
40 Comments

Whether it’s football, field hockey or track and field, there’s animosity between Ohio State and Michigan. For years, Indiana was public enemy No. 1 for the Basketball Buckeyes, but the Wolverines’ return to relevance combined with Ohio State’s national standing has reinvigorated the rivalry.

“The fans get a little more excited about it,” senior point guard Aaron Craft said. “It’s always great to feed off your own fans’ energy. There are people out there camping outside right now in this weather. That makes you want to play a little harder.”

Who Where WHEN TV
No. 15 Michigan  (17-6, 9-2) The Schott 9:00 p.m. ESPN

Last season, Ohio State and Michigan played twice with both games resulting in classics. The team’s split the series as Craft and Trey Burke took center stage. A possible matchup in the national championship game came close to being a reality.

Both teams were projected highly again this season. But they’ve had their share of struggles – and successes. The Buckeyes were 15-0, then lost five of six and are now on a three-game win streak. The Wolverines were 7-4, won their first eight games in the Big Ten and have since fallen back to Earth.

They meet Tuesday night in a monumental game for each program. For Ohio State, a win represents another boost for the postseason resume and continues good vibes. A fourth consecutive win would give Matta his 20th for the season, keeping alive a career-long streak. If Michigan loses, it strikes a blow to its conference championship hopes. The Wolverines and Michigan State are currently tied atop the standings at 9-2.

“This is a big one for us,” junior center Amir Williams said. “We just have to be ready to play. We can’t come out lackadaisical and come out like it’s just some other game. It’s a priority to build our standing in the Big Ten and help our place in the Big Ten Tournament.”

Opponent Breakdown

During Michigan’s eight-game sprint to begin the Big Ten schedule, Nik Stauskas went on a tear few shooters experience. He made half his three-point attempts and scored 20 points per game with ease. It was an abnormal stretch that has since been cooled. But it’s not Stauskas who holds the keys to the Wolverines’ success, it’s Glenn Robinson III.

His struggles went under the radar when Michigan was winning. Now that it suffered two losses in a week, Robinson’s issues have entered the spotlight. There’s playing down to the competition and then there are Robinson’s stats. He’s yet to make three second-half field goals against opponents inside the RPI top 50.

Not always like father. Robinson has disappeared too often for Michigan.

In Michigan’s humbling defeat at Iowa Saturday, Robinson played perhaps the worst game of his career. He finished with two points and was held scoreless for 23 minutes. It came days after Robinson scored 23 points on 8-of-14 shooting in a thumping of Nebraska. But he’s been a non-factor on the road.

Robinson entered the season as a potential NBA lottery pick. Those chances have all but disappeared. One of his advantages is being so versatile. Robinson can score down low, make jump shots and spot up at the three-point line. Despite his height and athleticism, he rarely gets offensive rebounds or reaches the charity stripe. It reeks of succumbing to pressure.

With Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. forming one of the nation’s best duos last year, there was no reason for Robinson to be “the man.” But when they departed for the NBA, Robinson became a focal point of the Michigan offense. However, the go-to demeanor still hasn’t taken hold. Too often, he’s hesitant to take important shots.

“It’s trying to find what he’s comfortable with and putting him in situations like that,” Michigan head coach John Beilein said. “Then he has to go up believing that the shot is going in. We are pumping that up because when he’s involved, when he’s scoring, we are a tough team to guard.”

Buckeye Breakdown

Funny what a little bit of confidence can do. In December, as Ohio State was humming along with win after win, it regrouped in less than a minute to beat Notre Dame. But when the losses piled up, the late minutes were not kind to the Buckeyes.

They’ve since reverted to their winning ways with the catalyst being a new mindset. Ohio State held a players-only meeting prior to its trip to Wisconsin, which played host to the Buckeyes’ first of three consecutive victories. The gathering acted as both an airing of grievances and uniting experience.

Four three-pointers from Smith helped dispatch the Boilers Smith served as an on-court example vs. Purdue.

“We’re playing for one another, we’re lifting each other up,” senior guard Lenzelle Smith Jr. said. “I think our maturity as a team has picked up a little bit. Ever since I had that interview and I was saying we were missing camaraderie and leadership, I think we found a lot of that stuff we were missing, and it’s great because this is the time when you want to be playing your best basketball.”

Like so many times before, there’s the appearance that Matta’s team is peaking with the NCAA Tournament in the near future. The formula is simple, adequate offense and the usual stout defense. It’s been the common denominator in each of Ohio State’s 19 wins.

It sounds easy with a hint of clichés. Obviously offense and defense together wins games. But for a Buckeye team that’s limited offensively, the paths to victory are reduced.

“Any time you can get wins, it adds confidence to the team, so that’s a great thing for us,” junior forward LaQuinton Ross said. “It’s a great feeling. Winning cures all, like I said before, and that’s what I’ve been doing lately. I think everybody’s been feeling a lot better.”

One critical matchup Tuesday night will be Craft guarding Nik Stauskas. There might be a height different between the two, but Craft’s defense could determine the game’s outcome. His containment of Trey Burke the past two seasons befuddled the Michigan point guard and was the biggest factor in the Buckeyes’ triumphing over the Wolverines.

“You like to feel good, you like to feel great, but right now, geez, one bad segment of a game could cost you the game with what we have left on our schedule in terms of who we’re playing, when we’re playing, where we’re playing.” Matta said.

Etc

  • Ohio State leads the all-time series with Michigan 93-73. 
  • Thad Matta is 17-4 against the Wolverines in his career. 
  • Michigan has not won in Columbus in more than 11 years.

40 Comments

Comments

Mortc15's picture

Hopefully the ETC category reads 94-73, 18-4, and 12 years after tonight. And I think it will. GO BUCKS!

Buck-I4Life

+3 HS
buckeye4life050233's picture

That is a really crazy stat.  Hopefully it reads 4-1 after tonight with margin of victory up around 15-20 somewhere 

Killer nuts's picture

At the beginning of this game, the middle, and even at the end of the game, regardless of outcome, Michigan will still suck

+11 HS
mh277907's picture

Hopefully the Schott will be rocking tonight. It has been a disappointing showing by the fans at home thus far but I have a feeling tonight will be different.

buckeyebobcat

+6 HS
OvalBeachBum's picture

I agree the home showing has been abysmal thus far, but I don't think its the students that are to blame.  I feel like the students are always rowdy and loud, but since we have a large pro style arena, the schott will not get loud unless our older fans show up and cheer.  The students at the end of close games have literally had to chant at the older fansto get them to stand up and cheer.  Thats kind of unacceptable...Hopefully The Schott will Rock tonight!

 

"In the words of the late great Colonel Sanders, I'm too drunk to taste this chicken" - Ricky Bobby

+4 HS
Barnsey69's picture

No tacos for UM.

Go Bucks!

Thank the Maker that I was born in Ohio, cradle of coaches, US Presidents, confederate-stomping Generals, and home of The Ohio State University Football Buckeyes!

+3 HS
BME_Buckeye's picture

But they have Taco Carlton...

Look closely, because the closer you think you are, the less you will actually see.

 

+1 HS
BuckeyeinToledo's picture

TACO TUESDAY BABY!!

"There's nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you."

-Woody Hayes

+1 HS
DeepSouthBuckeye's picture

Lenzelle needs to have one of his ON nights. I am not expecting much out of Craft on offense tonight, due to the fact he will be using all of his energy guarding Stauskas. Someone else is going to have to step up on the offense side of the ball.

Loving all things Buckeye from SEC country in Alabama.
"How firm thy friendship....O-HI-O"

+3 HS
Killer nuts's picture

I have never seen Craft lack for energy

+4 HS
Doc's picture

Let's Go Bucks!  Beat the Skunkbears!

"Say my name."

+2 HS
Baroclinicity's picture

Keep the February run going!  Go Bucks!!

When you're holding a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

+2 HS
vball10set's picture

Need both Lenzelle and Amir to be solid and score, need Craft to frustrate the Canadian, and must win the turnover battle...O-H

+2 HS
CCatanzaro's picture

I-O!!!  Screw Blue!

Dairy-fed intellect and pure, unhinged sass.

 

+1 HS
rhutchjr's picture

Its time for "Q" to really step up!

Toledo, a good place to be FROM

+2 HS
vwhiegs57's picture

Kind of crazy to think that the last 4 games between tOSU and ttun (football and basketball) have been decided by a total of 10 pts. Best part being tOSU is 3-1, in those 4 games.

+1 HS
JOhio1560's picture

Go Bucks!  Beat these michigan goons!

"You Win With People" - Woody Hayes

+1 HS
scrotieMcboogerballs's picture

Really glad this game is at home...Not only do we have a better chance of winning, I don't wanna watch 15,000 scUM fans act like they don't love Aaron Craft. Because we know everyone loves Aaron Craft.

"Who do you think you are?!?!...I am!!"  -Pete Weber, bowling legend and dominator of the English language

+2 HS
Doc's picture

They just don't know it yet.  ;}

"Say my name."

Optimistic Buckeye Pessimist's picture

Huge Game.  Gotta limit Michigan's perimeter shooting.  I'd really like to see Sam on the court more tonight in attempts to neutralize Robinson. Rotate Craft and Scott on Stauskas to keep them fresh and feed Amir down low.  Go Bucks.

Read my entire screen name....

+2 HS
AJW_16's picture

Here's hoping that Q pulls a Deshaun Thomas and goes into full on beast mode. Go Bucks, Beat Blue!

"Sometimes you eat the bear and sometimes the bear eats you." 

+1 HS
TheNorthernBuckeye's picture

Initially I do feel great about this game. Coming off some impressive wins and it appears Thad has the guys turned around and his adjustments have given success.  I'm on the fence though about how I REALLY feel.  I cant decide if I like the fact that we are currently surging while TTUN has crashed back down to earth or if I should be nervous that they are coming off an ass kicking and a rude awakening.

"You're an angry football team, and I'm proud to be your coach." - UFM

+1 HS
buckeye4life050233's picture

We are pretty lucky to have Matta and Meyer as head coaches at The Ohio State University.  Not many places have 2 top 10 coaches for men's bball and football 

+5 HS
buckeyestu's picture

Is there any other school that have the top 10 coaches in both sports?

+2 HS
gm3jones's picture

Not that I can think of. Maybe Sparty?

There is nothing more remarkable as learning to think better.

Ralph Waldo Enarson's picture

Nothing to say other than I really, really hope they win this game.

buckeyestu's picture

Scum still sucks, and they will always suck.

+1 HS
Go1Bucks's picture

_uck Fishigan!

 

 

 

Go Bucks!

IGotAWoody's picture

I know it's cliche', but I think if we win the turnover battle, we'll win the game.

Go BUCKS, we don't give a DAMN for the WHOLE state of michigan!!

 - License to kill gophers (wolverines, badgers, etc) by the government of the United Nations

Deadly Nuts's picture

Fuck m*ch*gan... that is all

LEBRON

Josh P's picture

Gonna sit down and watch this game with one of my best friends, a UM fan, and I'm totally confident I won't be the one leaving upset.  Maybe that's a bad thing, but lets take care of business tonight.  

Deadly Nuts's picture

I have done tons of trashtalking to ttun fans leading up to this game

LEBRON

ShowThemOhiosHere's picture

I'd love to see TTUN get their asses completely handed to them.  It will be epic if Q goes off for 40, Craft robs TTUN blind with double digit steals, Amir dunks in people's faces, Lenzelle totally outclasses Stauskas from 3-point land, and OSU wins by like 80, making TTUN look so bad that they fall out of the top 25 altogether.

I'll take a win, though, regardless of margin or how ugly the game is.

 

Class of 2010.

MichaelJ721984's picture

Am I allowed to cuss on this new site? Fuck Michigan!

Bamabucknut's picture

The game is NOT on BTN....and that is a good thing.

sb97's picture

I actually like BTN basketball coverage.  Alot.  The announcers tend to take a back seat to the game rather than acting like a side show.  Still, ESPN is a bit easier for most people to get.

Deadly Nuts's picture

Fun Fact: Amir Williams leads the B1G in FG%!

LEBRON

stevebelliseeya's picture

I'm drinking heavily for no reason on a Tuesday. I hope we win because I don't know what I may get into if we don't. 

"We are eternal. All this pain is an illusion." - Tool

tjbucvik23's picture

Aaron Craft is afraid to shoot the ball unless it's a lay up. We need scorers. We need 3 pt shots that go in when we're down 10.

gm3jones's picture

He is still the glue to this team, believe me. When he is off, the whole team is off. He is our hands down leader and captain of this team. We all know his shortcomings, but I personally don't mind them. Craft has grown on me and I think he is a heck of a basketball player. But I will admit his offense has not imrproved near as good as it should by his fourth year in colllege.

There is nothing more remarkable as learning to think better.