Posts Tagged ‘Buckeyes’

Michigan hoops preview: #24 Ohio State

Saturday, February 21st, 2015


UM-OSU
Michigan (13-13, 6-8) vs #25 Ohio State (19-7, 8-5)
Sunday, Feb. 22 | Ann Arbor, Mich. | 1 p.m. EST | CBS
Offense
63.9 Points/gm 78.0
(579-1,393) 41.6 Field Goal % 49.9 (756-1,515)
(200-571) 35.0 3-pt FG % 38.4 (186-485)
(303-404) 75.0 Free Throw % 67.5 (330-489)
11.7 FT Made/gm 12.7
30.7 Reb/gm 36.2
11.6 Assists/gm 16.4
9.8 Turnovers/gm 11.2
Defense
63.3 Points/gm 61.1
(612-,1369) 44.7 Field Goal % 39.0 (562-1,440)
(168-492) 34.1 3-pt FG % 31.5 (176-559)
34.0 Opp. Reb/gm 33.2
5.6 Steals/gm 8.1
1.8 Blocks/gm 5.3
Individual Leaders
Caris LeVert (14.8)*, Zak Irvin (13.5) Points/gm D’Angelo Russell (19.1), Marc Loving (11.2)
Caris LeVert (4.9)*, Derrick Walton Jr (4.7) Reb/gm D’Angelo Russell (5.8), Amir Williams (4.8)
*Out for season

___________________________________________________________________________________

Michigan’s season is lost, riding a five-game losing streak with just four games to play. At this point, it has been reduced to a fight to finish above .500 in order to sneak into the NIT. Ohio State is firmly in the NCAA Tournament field, and although they’re four games back of Wisconsin in the Big Ten, the Buckeyes have tournament seeding to fight for.

During the game, Michigan will honor the 50th anniversary of the 1965 Michigan basketball team that won the Big Ten championship and finished runner-up to UCLA in the NCAA Tournament, as well as the 30th anniversary of the 1985 team that also won the Big Ten title.

The Starters
Minutes Points FG% 3FG% FT% Reb Ast TO Blk Stl
D’Angelo Russell (G) 33.3 19.1 46.6 43.1 77.4 5.8 5.5 2.7 0.1 1.7
Marc Loving (F) 25.0 11.2 48.8 52.5 79.7 3.7 0.8 1.3 0.3 0.6
Sam Thompson (F) 31.4 10.2 48.6 25.0 62.7 3.7 2.0 1.2 0.9 1.3
Shannon Scott (G) 30.0 7.8 42.2 25.9 63.6 3.5 6.2 2.3 0.1 1.9
Amir Williams (C) 19.0 6.8 68.9 00.0 61.5 4.8 0.3 1.0 1.8 0.7
The Others
Minutes Points FG% 3FG% FT% Reb Ast TO Blk Stl
Jae’Sean Tate (F) 20.8 8.4 58.1 12.5 54.4 4.8 0.3 1.2 0.6 0.9
Kam Williams (G) 15.7 6.5 47.1 37.5 88.2 1.0 0.6 0.2 0.1 0.5
Keita Bates-Diop (F) 10.8 4.2 44.2 40.6 67.9 2.6 0.5 0.4 0.8 0.4
Anthony Lee (F) 11.0 3.4 62.0 00.0 52.6 2.3 0.1 0.6 0.4 0.1
Trey McDonald (C) 10.8 3.1 58.6 00.0 59.1 2.7 0.2 0.5 0.6 0.1
The Schedule
Date Opponent Score
Nov. 14 UMass Lowell W 92-55
Nov. 18 Marquette W 74-63
Nov. 23 Sacred Heart W 106-48
Nov. 26 Campbell W 91-64
Nov. 28 James Madison W 73-56
Dec. 2 at #5 Louisville^ L 55-64
Dec. 6 Colgate W 70-50
Dec. 10 High Point W 84-64
Dec. 13 Morehead State W 87-71
Dec. 17 North Carolina A&T W 97-55
Dec. 20 #24 North Carolina* L 74-82
Dec. 22 Miami (Ohio) W 93-55
Dec. 27 Wright State W 100-55
Dec. 30 Iowa L 65-71
Jan. 3 Illinois W 77-61
Jan. 6 at Minnesota W 74-72 OT
Jan. 10 at Indiana L 66-69
Jan. 13 Michigan W 71-52
Jan. 17 at Iowa L 67-76
Jan. 22 at Northwestern W 69-67
Jan. 25 #23 Indiana W 82-70
Jan. 29 #16 Maryland W 80-56
Feb. 4 at Purdue L 58-60
Feb. 8 at Rutgers W 79-60
Feb. 11 Penn State W 75-55
Feb. 14 at Michigan State L 56-59
Feb. 22 at Michigan
Feb. 26 Nebraska
Mar. 1 Purdue
Mar. 4 at Penn State
Mar. 8 #7 Wisconsin
*CBS Sports Classic, ^ACC-Big Ten Challenge

Ohio State won the season’s previous meeting, 71-52 in Columbus on Jan. 13. Michigan still had some hope entering that game with a 10-6 record and 3-1 in Big Ten play, but it would turn out to be the second-to-last game with Caris LeVert on the floor, and Derrick Walton Jr would bow out three games later. Since then, Michigan is just 3-7 and enters this afternoon’s game riding a five-game losing streak. Ohio State, meanwhile, has gone 6-3 since that game. The Buckeyes have had a full week off since losing to Michigan State on Valentine’s Day.

The Series

Michigan trails the all-time series 76-100, but has won three of the last four meetings. Michigan leads 46-37 all-time in games played in Ann Arbor. Although Michigan and Ohio State faced off twice last season, neither was in Ann Arbor as Michigan won 70-60 in Columbus during the regular season and 72-69 in the Big Ten Tournament semifinal. The last time Ohio State visited the Crisler Center, Michigan sent the Buckeyes home with a 76-74 overtime loss during the 2012-13 season. The last time Ohio State won in Ann Arbor was a 68-64 victory on Jan. 12, 2011.

Notes

• Ohio State ranks second in the Big Ten in scoring offense (78.0 points per game), scoring defense (61.1),  and scoring margin (plus-16.9)

• Ohio State leads the Big Ten in field goal percentage (49.9), while Michigan ranks second-to-last in field goal percentage defense (44.7)

• Ohio State ranks second the Big Ten in blocked shots (5.3 per game) and turnover margin (plus-4.46)

• D’Angelo Russell ranks second in the Big Ten with 19.1 points per game and leads the conference with 2.8 three-pointers made per game

• Shannon Scott leads the Big Ten with 6.2 assists per game and ranks third with 1.9 steals per game

• Marc Loving leads the Big Ten in three-point shooting (42-of-80 for 52.5 percent)

• Amir Williams ranks tied for second in the Big Ten in blocked shots per game (1.8)

Sleepwalking: Ohio State 71 – Michigan 52

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015


UM-OSU(Greg Bartram, USA Today Sports)

After a 3-1 start to Big Ten play, Michigan had its first chance to make a statement on Tuesday night when it visited rival Ohio State. Instead, Michigan turned in a lackadaisical and unfocused performance and left with a 19-point loss.

Ohio State opened the game with a Sam Thompson dunk, but Zak Irvin answered with a three on Michigan’s first shot of the game. But that was about the only thing that went right for the Wolverines. Ohio State scored the next five points, but Michigan went on a 9-2 run to take a 12-9 lead at the 14:27 mark. But then the Wolverines went cold.

Four Factors
Michigan Ohio State
39.0 eFG% 53.5
31.6 OReb% 32.3
20.7 TO% 14.3
10.2 FTR 24.6

Michigan managed just five points over the next 9:45, and by the time Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman hit a three, Michigan was down 30-20. Ohio State closed the half with a 9-4 run to take a 39-24 lead into the locker room.

Michigan has already come back from a double-digit second-half lead this season to beat Illinois, but any hope of repeating that on Tuesday night was dashed when Michigan began the second half by missing its first 13 shots. A Max Bielfeldt tip-in ended the drought six minutes and 36 seconds into the half. Meanwhile, Ohio State had already added 13 points to its total to take a 52-26 lead.

The rest of the game was spent trying to make the final score look a bit more respectable, but the damage had been done. Michigan got within 14 points after a Mark Donnal hook shot with three minutes to play, but OSU’s Marc Loving responded with a three to ice the game.

Michigan shot just 33.9 percent from the field and 23.1 percent (6-of-26) from three-point range, while Ohio State, the Big Ten’s best shooting team, shot 49.1 percent overall, making eight more field goals than Michigan did on two fewer attempts. While the rebounding margin was close (36-33 in Ohio State’s favor) Michigan turned the ball over 13 times and was outscored off of turnovers 19-8.

Columbus native Caris LeVert led Michigan with 14 points on 4-of-10 shooting, while Irvin was the only other Wolverine in double figures with 11 points, also on 4-of-10 shooting. But the duo combined for seven turnovers. The other three starters — Derrick Walton Jr, Spike Albrecht, and Ricky Doyle — combined for just eight points and eight rebounds on 4-of-15 shooting. Donnal scored eight points off the bench and freshman Aubrey Dawkins added six.

Ohio State was led by D’Angelo Russell’s 21 points. Sam Thompson contributed 12 and Amir Williams 10.

Michigan returns home to host Northwestern (10-6, 1-2) on Saturday night. The game will be televised by Big Ten Network at 8:15 p.m. EST.

Final Game Stats
# Name FG-FGA 3FG-3FGA FT-FTA OR DR TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN
02 Spike Albrecht* 2-4 0-1 0-0 0 1 1 3 4 0 1 0 0 29
32 Ricky Doyle* 1-4 0-0 0-0 0 2 2 1 2 2 1 0 0 15
10 Derrick Walton Jr* 1-7 1-3 0-0 0 5 5 4 2 2 1 0 0 27
21 Zak Irvin* 4-10 3-6 0-0 2 3 5 1 11 0 4 0 0 32
23 Caris LeVert* 4-10 2-5 4-4 0 2 2 4 14 1 3 0 1 31
03 Kameron Chatman 0-3 0-1 0-0 0 3 3 2 0 2 0 0 1 14
12 M-A. Abdur-Rahkman 1-6 1-5 0-0 1 0 1 0 3 1 1 0 0 15
24 Aubrey Dawkins 3-6 0-2 0-0 2 1 3 1 6 0 1 0 0 13
34 Mark Donnal 3-7 0-2 2-2 2 2 4 0 8 0 1 0 0 17
44 Max Bielfeldt 1-2 0-1 0-0 1 0 1 0 2 0 0 0 0 6
Totals 20-59 6-26 6-6 12 21 33 16 52 8 13 0 2 200
Ohio State 28-57 5-18 10-14 10 26 36 16 71 20 9 5 11 200
Full Stats

Michigan hoops preview: #25 Ohio State

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015


UM-OSU
Michigan (10-6, 3-1) vs #25 Ohio State (13-4, 2-2)
Tuesday, Jan. 13 | Columbus, Ohio | 7 p.m. EST | ESPN
Offense
66.9 Points/gm 81.8
(368-867) 42.4 Field Goal % 51.0 (515-1,010)
(133-366) 36.3 3-pt FG % 38.9 (129-332)
(202-278) 72.7 Free Throw % 70.5 (232-329)
12.6 FT Made/gm 13.6
31.8 Reb/gm 36.6
13.0 Assists/gm 17.3
10.1 Turnovers/gm 11.7
Defense
62.2 Points/gm 60.8
(366-837) 43.7 Field Goal % 38.8 (368-948)
(110-307) 35.8 3-pt FG % 30.9 (119-385)
33.6 Opp. Reb/gm 32.9
6.5 Steals/gm 9.2
1.8 Blocks/gm 5.4
Individual Leaders
Caris LeVert (14.8), Zak Irvin (14.6) Points/gm D’Angelo Russell (17.9), Marc Loving (12.0)
Caris LeVert (5.0), Derrick Walton Jr (4.5) Reb/gm Amir Williams (5.1), D’Angelo Russell (4.6)

___________________________________________________________________________________

Michigan was one of two Big Ten teams to not lose a game last week — Michigan State was the other — and now gets to travel to the snake pit for the first of two battles with rival Ohio State. The Buckeyes will be in a celebratory mood after the football team beat Oregon for the college football national title last night. Although different sports, Michigan has a chance to spoil the celebration ever so slightly. Let’s take a look at the Buckeyes.

The Starters
Minutes Points FG% 3FG% FT% Reb Ast TO Blk Stl
D’Angelo Russell (G) 32.1 17.9 45.3 43.6 79.4 4.6 4.9 3.0 0.2 1.8
Marc Loving (F) 25.4 12.0 50.0 50.0 79.3 3.9 0.9 1.4 0.4 0.8
Sam Thompson (F) 29.5 10.2 50.0 22.7 63.6 3.8 2.2 0.9 0.8 1.1
Shannon Scott (G) 29.9 8.4 44.5 27.5 76.9 3.6 7.2 2.4 0.1 2.4
Amir Williams (C) 19.5 7.4 71.0 00.0 67.4 5.1 0.2 1.2 2.2 0.9
The Others
Minutes Points FG% 3FG% FT% Reb Ast TO Blk Stl
Kam Williams (G) 16.1 8.2 52.0 42.3 88.2 1.0 0.8 0.2 0.0 0.5
Jae’Sean Tate (F) 17.2 6.7 58.8 11.1 52.8 4.4 0.2 1.2 0.6 1.1
Keita Bates-Diop (F) 12.6 4.9 45.0 38.5 65.2 2.8 0.6 0.4 0.7 0.4
Trey McDonald (C) 11.2 3.8 66.7 00.0 66.7 3.2 0.2 0.5 0.6 0.2
Anthony Lee (F) 10.7 3.3 57.9 00.0 54.5 2.3 0.1 0.5 0.2 0.1
The Schedule
Date Opponent Score
Nov. 14 UMass Lowell W 92-55
Nov. 18 Marquette W 74-63
Nov. 23 Sacred Heart W 106-48
Nov. 26 Campbell W 91-64
Nov. 28 James Madison W 73-56
Dec. 2 at #5 Louisville^ L 55-64
Dec. 6 Colgate W 70-50
Dec. 10 High Point W 84-64
Dec. 13 Morehead State W 87-71
Dec. 17 North Carolina A&T W 97-55
Dec. 20 #24 North Carolina* L 74-82
Dec. 22 Miami (Ohio) W 93-55
Dec. 27 Wright State W 100-55
Dec. 30 Iowa L 65-71
Jan. 3 Illinois W 77-61
Jan. 6 at Minnesota W 74-72 OT
Jan. 10 at Indiana L 66-69
Jan. 13 Michigan
Jan. 17 at Iowa
Jan. 22 at Northwestern
Jan. 25 Indiana
Jan. 29 #14 Maryland
Feb. 4 at Purdue
Feb. 8 at Rutgers
Feb. 11 Penn State
Feb. 14 at Michigan State
Feb. 22 at Michigan
Feb. 26 Nebraska
Mar. 1 Purdue
Mar. 4 at Penn State
Mar. 8 #7 Wisconsin
*CBS Sports Classic, ^ACC-Big Ten Challenge

Michigan and Ohio State didn’t play any common non-conference opponents, but both beat Minnesota last week. The Buckeyes beat Minnesota 74-72 in overtime a week ago, while Michigan topped the Gophers 62-57 on Saturday. The other common opponent is Illinois, who Michigan beat 73-65 in overtime to open Big Ten play and Ohio State beat 77-61 four days later.

Ohio State has lost to the only two ranked teams they have played, Louisville on the road in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge and North Carolina on a neutral court in the CBS Sports Classic. Michigan has also lost to the only two ranked teams it has played — Villanova and Arizona — but has a chance to pick up a win against a ranked team as Ohio State reentered the USA Today Coaches Poll this week at No.25.

The Series

Michigan trails the all-time series 76-99, but has won the last three meetings. Michigan is 28-56 all-time in Columbus, but won their last trip, 70-60, last February. Michigan also beat Ohio State 72-69 in the Big Ten Tournament semifinal last season.

Notes

• Ohio State ranks second in the Big Ten in scoring offense (81.8 points per game) but leads the Big Ten with a 21-point scoring margin

• Ohio State leads the Big Ten in field goal percentage (51.0), while Michigan ranks last in field goal percentage defense (43.7)

• Ohio State leads the Big Ten in blocked shots (5.4 per game) and turnover margin (plus-5.88)

• D’Angelo Russell ranks third in the Big Ten with 17.9 points per game and is tied with Zak Irvin for the most three-pointers made per game (2.6)

• Shannon Scott leads the Big Ten with 7.2 assists per game and ranks second with 2.4 steals per game

• Marc Loving leads the Big Ten in three-point shooting (30-of-60 for 50.0 percent)

• Amir Williams ranks second in the Big Ten in blocked shots per game (2.1)

Five-Spot Challenge 2014: Final Results

Monday, December 15th, 2014


Five-SpotChallenge_Banner1

Congratulations to JustJeepGear.com for winning the final Five-Spot Challenge of the season. JJG’s deviation of 135 was 40 points better than runner-up boggie. JJG was the closest to correctly predicting Devin Gardner’s total yards, just four away from his total of 254. JJG also tied for the closest to the game’s longest touchdown, which was Ezekiel Elliott’s 44-yard run on 4th-and-1 in the fourth quarter. MichiganMack and Maizenblu62 were also only one away from that one. JJG wins the final $20 M Den gift card of the season.

Boggie was closest to Michigan’s total yards (372) with his prediction of 374. Kashkaav‘s prediction of 36 yards was the closest to the yards gained on Ohio State’s first possession (41). Kfarmer16 was exactly right with his prediction of 89 rushing yards for Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett, although had Barrett not gotten injured on the first play of the fourth quarter, that total likely would have changed. Freezer566 was just one away from Dennis Norfleet’s longest return (29) with his prediction of 30, while GrizzlyJFB was just one away from Jalin Marshall’s longest return (23) with his prediction of 22. Finally, no one predicted that neither team would make a field goal.

Congratulations is also in order for kfarmer16, who won the season-long prize, a pair of tickets to next year’s home opener against Oregon State. While this season was a huge letdown, next season’s home opener should come full of hope, especially if Michigan is able to lure Jim Harbaugh away from the NFL. Freezer566 came in second, just seven points behind kfarmer16, while Hazel Parker finished third despite missing two of the 10 weeks.

No one correctly predicted the final score, though Hazel Parker was the closest with his prediction of Ohio State 38 – Michigan 28. Four of the 16 contestants picked Michigan to win by an average of two points, and the average score prediction among all of the contestants was Ohio State 38 – Michigan 18.

I will be in touch with each winner via email this week regarding your M Den gift cards and the grand prize tickets. I hope they can make for some nice Christmas gifts. Thanks for playing this season’s Five-Spot Challenge. We may hold some random challenges during basketball season, so stay tuned for those. Otherwise, the challenge will return next football season!

The weekly results and final overall standings have been updated.

The end: Ohio State 42 – Michigan 28

Sunday, November 30th, 2014


Garnder sportsmanship(Greg Bartram, USA Today Sports)

On the first play of the fourth quarter, Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett was tackled behind the line of scrimmage by a trio of Michigan defenders. They all got up, but he didn’t. As he laid on the Ohio Stadium turf, surrounded by medical personnel, senior Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner trotted across the field to console him. The photo gained national attention as a grand gesture of sportsmanship amid a heated rivalry, but the act itself signaled a perfect representation of Michigan’s season.

UM-OhioState-small-final-FINAL
Final Stats
Michigan Ohio State
Score 28 42
Record 5-7, 3-5 11-1, 8-0
Total Yards 372 416
Net Rushing Yards 121 233
Net Passing Yards 251 183
First Downs 27 20
Turnovers 2 0
Penalties-Yards 4-38 9-84
Punts-Yards 4-165 4-196
Time of Possession 34:05 25:55
Third Down Conversions 6-of-11 7-of-13
Fourth Down Conversions 1-of-1 1-of-1
Sacks By-Yards 0-0 5-41
Field Goals 0-for-0 0-for-0
PATs 4-for-4 6-for-6
Red Zone Scores-Chances 4-of-4 3-of-3
Full Box Score

In his final game as a Michigan quarterback, Gardner completed 22-of-32 passes for 233 yards and two touchdowns and gained 41 more yards on the ground. But his turnovers, the only two of the game for either team, both led to Ohio State touchdowns, which ultimately provided Michigan’s margin of defeat.

Gardner is a textbook example of the type of athlete Michigan — or any school — wants representing its program. His regular visits to Mott Children’s Hospital, his early graduation and soon to be Master’s degree, his selfless switching of positions twice in the same season, his sticking it out through two head coaches and three offensive coordinators, and finally, his display of sportsmanship in the final quarter of the final game of his career say more about the man and the future he will have than any on-field success could.

But fair or not, his performance on the field, which regressed from the point he took over for an injured Denard Robinson midway through the 2012 season through Saturday’s season-ending loss to Ohio State, will define his career in the eyes of most Michigan fans.

Michigan put a scare into the sixth-ranked Buckeyes, rebounding from a quick 7-0 Ohio State lead to score back-to-back touchdowns before Ohio State tied the game just before halftime. And after Ohio State took a 21-14 lead to start the third quarter, Gardner led Michigan right down the field for the game-tying touchdown. Ohio State took the lead for good late in the third quarter, but Michigan stayed within striking distance far longer than anyone thought they would.

The loss was Michigan’s seventh of the season, resulting in a third losing season in seven years, and effectively ending the tenure of head coach Brady Hoke. While Ohio State will face Wisconsin in next Saturday’s Big Ten Championship game and hope to gain a spot in the College Football Playoff, Michigan will turn its attention to a likely coaching search.

Gardner will hope to be selected in the NFL Draft next spring, but if he isn’t, he’ll have a Master’s of social work to carry him into his next profession. And he’ll have several single-game school records, the best offensive performance in Michigan-Ohio State history, and what is sure to be one of The Game’s most enduring moments to carry on his legacy.

Michigan-Ohio State game preview

Friday, November 28th, 2014


Game Preview_OhioState_banner

For many years, Michigan and Ohio State ended the regular season with a clash that decided the Big Ten title. When the two rivals meet tomorrow afternoon in Columbus, they’ll both have something to play for beyond just bragging rights, but their goals couldn’t be more different.

Michigan missed an opportunity to gain bowl eligibility with a 23-16 loss to Maryland last Saturday, which means the Wolverines will have to beat the Buckeyes to extend their season. Ohio State, on the other hand, is still vying for a spot in the College Football Playoff.

UM-OhioState-small-final
Quick Facts
Ohio Stadium – 12 p.m. EST – ABC
Ohio State Head Coach: Urban Meyer (3rd season)
Coaching Record: 138-26 (34-3 at Ohio State)
Offensive Coordinator: Tom Herman (3rd season)
Defensive Coordinators: Chris Ash (1st season)
Luke Fickell (9th season)
Returning 2013 Starters: 11 (4 offense, 7 defense)
Last Season: 12-2 (8-0 Big Ten)
Last Meeting: OSU 42 – UM 41 (2013)
All-Time Series: Michigan leads 58-46-6
Record in Columbus: Michigan leads 27-25-2
Record in Ohio Stadium: Ohio State leads 24-21-1
Brady Hoke vs OSU: 1-2
Last Michigan win: 2011 (40-34)
Last UM win at OSU: 2000 (38-26)
Current Streak: Ohio State 2

Ohio State already has the Big Ten East division wrapped up, but trails Alabama, Oregon, Florida State, Mississippi State, and TCU in the rankings. Only the top four will get in. Ohio State will get a chance for another big win in next week’s Big Ten Championship game, but if they struggle with a 5-6 Michigan squad at home, it would be hard to make a case for moving the Buckeyes ahead of any of those other teams unless they lose.

TCU took care of business on Thursday night with a 48-10 win over Texas, and only has Iowa State remaining. Mississippi State visits in-state rival Ole Miss tomorrow, but the Rebels have lost three of their last four after opening the season 7-0. Unless Alabama loses to Auburn tomorrow, MSU won’t reach the SEC Championship game. If the Crimson Tide can top Auburn, they’ll face Missouri or Georgia next week for the SEC title. Oregon, like Ohio State, faces a 5-6 team, Oregon State, and then the Pac-12 Championship game. That leaves Florida State, the reigning national champion and the only unbeaten team.

A lot can happen this week and next, but in order to avoid getting left out, Ohio State has to beat Michigan and look good doing it. Playoff committee chair Jeff Long started a controversy when releasing this week’s rankings by describing the committee’s use of “game control” as an evaluation metric, which is essentially rewarding teams for running up the score. A 42-41 win over Michigan like last year will not win Ohio State any points in that category, so Urban Meyer will look to keep his foot on the gas pedal and send Brady Hoke packing.

As fans on both sides are fully aware, anything can happen in a rivalry of this magnitude. Because of this, OSU fans are approaching tomorrow’s matchup with caution, despite having won 11 of the last 13. Michigan fans, meanwhile, have already set their sights on Jim Harbaugh and can’t wait until the game is over to close the book on yet another lost season.

Does Michigan have a chance to knock off the Buckeyes in Columbus for the first time since 2000? Or will Ohio State simply take care of the inevitable, ensuring Michigan a third losing season in the last seven years? Let’s take a look at the matchups.

Michigan defense vs Ohio State offense: When Ohio State has the ball

Although they lost running back Carlos Hyde, Ohio State entered the season with high hopes offensively, mostly because of senior quarterback Braxton Miller who would be entering his fourth season as a starter. The two-time defending Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year was near the top of most preseason Heisman trophy watch lists. But after re-injuring his throwing shoulder in fall camp, Miller was forced to spend the season on the sidelines.

Enter J.T. Barrett.

The redshirt freshman, who hadn’t seen the field since his junior year of high school thanks to a senior-year injury of his own, was thrust into action much earlier than expected. And while there were some early-season hiccups that resulted in a loss to Virginia Tech — which could ultimately cost the Buckeyes a shot at the national title — he has had one of the most impressive seasons in the country. The Wichita Falls, Texas native has completed 64.8 percent of his passes for 2,658 yards, 33 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions, and has rushed for 849 yards and nine scores. Two more solid performances and he will likely earn an invitation to New York at season’s end.

Barrett ranks second in the Big Ten in passing yards per game, first in passing efficiency, and first in total offense. He may not match Miller’s 2012 rushing total of 1,271 yards, but he has far and away surpassed Miller’s best numbers.

But it hasn’t been a one man show in Columbus. Sophomore running back Ezekiel Elliott picked up right where Hyde left off with 1,061 yards through 11 games. He ranks sixth in the Big Ten in rushing with 96.5 yards per game and fifth with 5.9 yards per carry. He has topped 100 yards in five of the last eight games, including a 23-carry, 154-yard, two-touchdown performance against Michigan State.

Ohio State doesn’t have a receiver that ranks in the top ten in the conference in yards or receptions, but the Buckeyes have a group of very solid receivers. Senior Devin Smith is the big-play receiver, leading team with 610 yards on just 25 receptions. Sophomore Michael Thomas has 12 more catches, but five fewer yards. Both have eight touchdowns. Freshman Jalin Marshall has emerged as a threat as the season has gone on. He caught just six passes for 39 yards and two touchdowns in the first five games, but has 18 for 308 yards and four scores in the last six. Elliott has actually caught the second-most passes on the team (25) for 201 yards. Tight end Jeff Heuerman, who caught a touchdown against Michigan last season, doesn’t have nearly the production he had a year ago but is still a threat with 16 catches and two touchdowns.

The offensive line was a major question mark entering the season, but has progressed pretty well throughout and has had the luxury of starting the same group all 11 games. After giving up eight sacks in the first two games — seven in the Virginia Tech loss alone — the Bucks have allowed just 15 in the last nine games. Some of that has to do with the progression of Barrett, but the line has done its part. Left tackle Taylor Decker is the anchor alongside redshirt freshman Billy Price, junior center Jacoby Boren, redshirt sophomore guard Pat Elflein, and fifth-year senior right tackle Darryl Baldwin.

Michigan offense vs Ohio State defense: When Michigan has the ball

Last season, Ohio State’s defense didn’t do much to help its offense, but new co-defensive coordinator Chris Ash has helped shore it up. While it’s still not where Meyer wants it to be, it ranks 30th nationally in scoring defense (22.5 points per game), 41st against the run (147.8 yards per game), 15th against the pass (182.5 yards per game), and 19th overall (330.4 yards per game). It also ranks 18th in sacks (32).

It all starts up front for the Buckeyes with one of the best defensive lines in the nation. The group took a hit when last year’s sack leader, defensive end Noah Spence, was suspended for failing a drug test after last season’s Big Ten Championship game. Slated to miss the first two games of the season, he failed another test and was summarily suspended for the entire season. The other end, sophomore Joey Bosa, has been an absolute star, leading the Big Ten with 11.5 sacks and 18 tackles for loss. Spence’s replacement, senior Steve Miller has recorded six tackles for loss and one sack.

In the middle, Ohio State is led by senior Michael Bennett and junior Adolphus Washington. Bennett finished fourth in the Big Ten with 15 tackles for loss in 2013, but has fallen off that pace this season with 7.5 so far and three sacks. Washington has seven and 2.5.

The linebacking corps had to deal with the loss of Ryan Shazier to the NFL, but has developed great cohesion with the same three players picking up 32 of the possible 33 starts. Junior weak side linebacker Joshua Perry leads the team with 99 tackles to go along with 8.5 for loss, three sacks, an interception, and two passes defended. Redshirt freshman strong side linebacker Darron Lee ranks fourth on the team with 50 tackles but second with 11.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks, and also has two interceptions. Senior middle linebacker Curtis Grant has 47 tackles, three for loss, and one sack.

The secondary was the unit that got torched over and over again last season, but has fared much better this year. Cincinnati and Michigan State both passed for over 350 yards on Ohio State, but the Buckeyes have held five of 11 opponents below 150 yards through the air. Redshirt freshman Eli Apple and senior Doran Grant are the starting corners and have five interceptions and 18 passes defended between them. Sophomore safety Vonn Bell is the team’s second-leading tackler with 68 and also has three picks, while the other safety, redshirt sophomore Tyvis Powell, ranks third with 57 and also has three takeaways.

Special Teams: The other third

True freshman kicker Sean Nuernberger has made just 10 of his 16 field goal attempts on the season with a long of 49 yards. Interestingly, he has yet to attempt a field goal between 30 and 39 yards or over 50 yards all season. He is 5-of-6 from 20-29 yards and 5-of-10 from 40-49 yards. Punter Cameron Johnston, on the other hand, ranks third in the Big Ten with an average of 43.6 yards per punt. He has downed 19 of his 31 punts inside the 20-yards line and booted nine of them over 50 yards with just three going into the end zone.

The Buckeyes rank 18th nationally in punt returns and 19th in kick returns. Marhsall ranks second in the Big Ten with an average of 13.6 yards per punt return and has taken one to the end zone. Dontre Wilson ranks fourth in the conference with 24 yards per kick return — 0.1 more than Dennis Norfleet — but a broken foot suffered against Michigan State has sidelined him for the rest of the regular season.

Prediction

There are two likely scenarios for Michigan on Saturday. Either the team plays with nothing to lose, inspired by its soon to be former head coach and gives Ohio State a run for its money, or it packs it in at the first sign of distress and gets pushed around for 60 minutes resulting in the worst defeat in the history of the rivalry.

Michigan had no business nearly beating Ohio State last season, but came within a failed two-point conversion from doing just that. But heading into that game there was at least an indication that Michigan’s offense could outscore the Buckeyes. This year, however, Michigan’s offense has been stuck in neutral, failing to score 20 points in seven of 11 games. Ohio State hasn’t scored fewer than 21 points in a game all season and averages more than twice that.

The only hope Michigan has is if its defense plays its best game of the season, contains Barrett’s legs, and pressures him into mistakes that he — like any first year starter and freshman — can be prone to make. But that’s certainly no easy task and one that even Michigan State’s defense couldn’t do. And even if the defense can do that, Michigan will have to avoid costly turnovers that have plagued the offense all year. And even if both of those things happen, Michigan will need Dennis Norfleet to break a return that doesn’t get called back. In other words, Michigan needs a perfect storm.

Michigan has allowed just nine first half points in its last three games combined, and will hang with Ohio State early on. But Michigan won’t be able to keep the Bucks at bay for long, and if they can’t find the end zone themselves, will see the game slip away in a hurry. Expect a fairly close game at halftime that Ohio State blows wide open in the second half with a couple of deep balls to Smith or Thomas and the running combo of Elliott and Barrett wearing the defense down. Meyer goes for two at the end to get to 50 and earn style points with the playoff committee, Hoke is fired shortly after, and Jim Harbaugh comes home to reignite the rivalry.

Ohio State 50 – Michigan 13

Five-Spot Challenge: Ohio State

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014


Five-SpotChallenge_Banner1

Sorry for the delay in getting this week’s Five-Spot Challenge posted. Two basketball games to start the week got us behind. But congratulations to Bigboyblue for picking up his second win of the season with a deviation of 136.5, topping Jaeschke by four. Bigboyblue was the closest to Michigan’s longest pass (23 yards) with his prediction of 22. He wins a $20 gift card to The M Den.

Last week’s winner, Freezer566, was the closest to correctly predicting Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown’s total yards. His prediction of 250 was just two away. He was also the closest to correctly predicting the minutes until Michigan’s first touchdown. Michigan scored at the 10:25 mark in the third quarter (34.5 minutes into the game). Freezer566 predicted 35. Four contestants — MichiganMack, Hazel Parker, chris12qb, and Jaeschke — correctly predicted that Devin Gardner would score Michigan’s first touchdown. Four others predicted a touchdown pass from Gardner to Devin Funchess, and thus, were just one away. Finally, first time contestant Ray Weatherford was the closest to the total combined made field goals by both teams. His prediction of 167 was just 14 away from the actual total of 181.

Seventeen of the 18 contestants picked Michigan to win by an average score of Michigan 24 – Maryland 16, which was almost the exact reverse of the actual score of Maryland 23 – Michigan 16. MichiganMack and kashkaav each were correct in their predictions that Michigan would score 16 points, but neither tabbed Maryland’s score correctly.

The weekly results and overall standings have been updated. Unless Michigan beats Ohio State and gains bowl eligibility this will be the final Five-Spot Challenge of the season. All M Den gift cards will be sent out next week to those who have not received them yet.

Here are this week’s picks. As is our custom, we have added a couple more questions for The Game. Enjoy your Thanksgiving.

First Look: Ohio State

Monday, November 24th, 2014


FirstLook-OhioState

Michigan was unable to pick up its sixth win on Saturday, falling to Maryland 23-16. That leaves one final chance to gain bowl eligibility and avoid a losing season. Unfortunately, that game is in Columbus where Michigan hasn’t won since 2000. Normally, the week of the Michigan-Ohio State game is an exciting one that fans on both sides look forward to all week. But it has never felt so hollow than it does now. Let’s take a look at how the teams compare.

Ohio State Statistics & Michigan Comparison
Ohio State | Michigan Rank Defense Rank
Points Per Game 44.3 | 20.3 5 | 111
22.5 | 20.6 30 | 21
Rushing Yards 2,856 | 1,833 1,626 | 1,179
Rush Avg. Per Game 259.6 | 166.6 13 | 61
147.8 | 107.2 41 | 9
Avg. Per Rush 5.6 | 4.7
4.1 | 2.9
Passing Yards 2,769 | 1,791 2,008 | 2,141
Pass Avg. Per Game 251.7 | 162.8 48 | 113 182.5 | 194.6 15 | 23
Total Offense 5,625 | 3,624 3,634 | 3,320
Total Off Avg. Per Game 511.4 | 329.5 10 | 114 330.4 | 301.8 19 | 9
Kick Return Average 23.7 | 19.9 18 | 82 17.8 | 21.7 15 | 81
Punt Return Average 12.0 | 6.8 19 | 85 6.0 | 12.8 44 | 116
Avg. Time of Possession 31:59 | 30:35 20 | 46
28:01 | 29:25
3rd Down Conversion Pct 53.0% | 38.0% 3 | 81
36.7% | 37.0% 40 | 42
Sacks Allowed-Yards/By-Yards 23-156 | 20-130
T68 | T54
32-219 | 29-248
T18 | T30
Touchdowns Scored 65 | 25
32 | 25
Field Goals-Attempts 10-16 | 15-21
8-13 | 18-22
Red Zone Scores (47-57)82%|(29-33)88% T67 | T30
(27-33)82%|(31-38)82% T56 | 51
Red Zone Touchdowns (40-57)70%|(20-33)61% (22-33)67%|(18-38)47%
Fremeau Efficiency Index (FEI) .542 | -.241
11 | 94
-.435 | -.295 18 | 35

Ohio State clinched the Big Ten East division with a 42-27 win over Indiana on Saturday. But that doesn’t mean the Buckeyes can afford to take this week lightly. Aside from it being The Game, Ohio State still has a chance to make the College Football Playoff. Currently ranked sixth, and with only one team — Florida State — undefeated, the Buckeyes need all the style points they can get. Despite winning by 15 this past Saturday, the fact that they trailed Indiana — the Big Ten’s only winless team — until late in the third quarter, didn’t win them any style points. The Bucks have just two games remaining — Michigan and the Big Ten title game — to jump at least two of Alabama, Oregon, Mississippi State, and TCU and fend off Baylor.

Ohio State’s offense will be the best Michigan has faced this season. Only Baylor (50.0), TCU (45.9), Oregon (45.8), and Marshall (44.9) average more points per game than the Buckeyes (44.3). In fact, they’ve been held below 30 just once and below 40 just three times. The fewest points they’ve scored all season came in a 35-21 loss to Virginia Tech in Week 2. Michigan has scored fewer than that in seven of 11 games. Following the Week 2 loss, Ohio State averaged 51.3 points over the next seven games.

Schedule
Date Opponent Result
Aug. 30 at Navy W 34-17
Sept. 6 Virginia Tech L 21-35
Sept. 13 Kent State W 66-0
Sept. 27 Cincinnati W 50-28
Oct. 4 at Maryland W 52-24
Oct. 18 Rutgers W 56-17
Oct. 25 at Penn State W 31-24 2OT
Nov. 1 Illinois W 55-14
Nov. 8 at #8 Michigan State W 49-37
Nov. 15 at #25 Minnesota W 31-24
Nov. 22 Indiana W 42-27
Nov. 29 Michigan

The catalyst has been redshirt freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett, who ranks 12th nationally in total offense (318.8 yards per game) — one spot ahead of Florida State quarterback and reigning Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston. The combination of Barrett’s rushing ability and running back Ezekiel Elliott has Ohio State’s run game ranked 13th nationally. Elliott is already over 1,000 yards and Barrett is 151 yards away.

The OSU passing game is slightly less potent — 48th nationally — but has two very talented receivers in Michael Thomas and Devin Smith, a rising star in Jalin Marshall, and a solid tight end in Jeff Heuerman. And despite being a first-year starter, Barrett has 33 touchdowns compared to just 10 interceptions.

Put together, Ohio State’s offense ranks 10th nationally in yards per game (511.4). Michigan’s ranks 114th, or 12th-to-last. The Buckeyes convert 53 percent of their third downs, which ranks third nationally.

Defensively, Ohio State is slightly worse than Michigan, but not nearly as bad as last season. The 22.5 points allowed per game are two more than Michigan and rank 30th nationally. Michigan State put up 37 points, which is the OSU has allowed. Only one — Kent State — was held to single digits and only four have been held below 20.

Ohio State’s rush defense ranks 41st, allowing 147.8 yards per game, about 40 more than Michigan allows. Some of that is a result of playing Navy’s triple-option attack that racked up 370 rushing yards in Week 1, but Indiana rushed for 281 last week.

The pass defense is better, ranking 15th nationally with 182.5 yards allowed per game. Again, some of that is a result of playing Navy, which attempted just four passes for 20 yards. But Michigan State passed for 358 and Cincinnati for 352, so the Buckeyes can be vulnerable through the air.

Altogether, Ohio State’s defense ranks 19th nationally. Michigan’s ranks ninth. Despite a defensive line that most considered the best in the Big Ten and one of the best in the country this season, OSU has just three more sacks than Michigan through 11 games. In addition, OSU isn’t as good at keeping opponents out of the end zone once they reach the red zone. The Bucks allow 67 percent of red zone trips to result in touchdowns, compared to 47 percent allowed by Michigan.

Special teams is a big strength of Ohio State as they rank 18th nationally in kick returns and 19th in punt returns. Comparatively, Michigan ranks 82nd and 85th. OSU also ranks 15th in kick return defense and 44th in punt return defense compared to Michigan’s 81st and 116th.

Everything about this game suggests a Buckeye blowout. The way the season has gone many Michigan fans would be okay with that being the final nail in Brady Hoke’s coaching coffin. But perhaps Hoke can rally the troops to make one final stand the way they nearly did a year ago. It’s unlikely, but that’s why they play the game.

Key Players
Passing Comp-Att Yards TD INT Average/Game
J.T. Barrett 190-293 2,658 33 10 241.6
Rushing Attempts Yards TD Long Average/Carry
Ezekiel Elliott 180 1,061 8 65 5.9
J.T. Barrett (QB) 156 849 9 86 5.4
Curtis Samuel 51 354 4 34 6.9
Cardale Jones (QB) 24 188 0 21 7.8
Receiving Receptions Yards TD Long Average/Game
Michael Thomas 37 605 8 79 55.0
Devin Smith 25 610 8 80 55.5
Ezekiel Elliott (RB) 25 201 0 22 18.3
Jalin Marshall 24 347 6 57 31.5
Jeff Heuerman (TE) 16 194 2 32 19.4
Defense Solo Assisted Total Tackles TFL-Yds Sacks-Yds
Joshua Perry 58 41 99 8.5-31 3.0-18 (1 INT)
Vonn Bell 38 24 62 1.0-2 0-0 (3 INT, 8 PD)
Darron Lee 33 17 50 11.5-48 4.5-34 (2 INT)
Joey Bosa (DE) 27 16 43 18.0-102 11.5-84
Adolphus Washington 18 18 36 7.0-23 2.5-13
Kicking FG Made FG Att Long XP Made XP Att
Sean Neurnberger 10 16 49 65 65
Punting Punts Yds Avg. In-20 50+
Cameron Johnston 31 1,351 43.6 19 9
Full Stats

Stay tuned for more on Ohio State in the coming days.

Buckeyes sent home: Michigan 72 – Ohio State 69

Saturday, March 15th, 2014


Michigan bench vs OSU 3-15-14(MGoBlue.com)

Six times in the 16-year history of the Big Ten Tournament have Michigan and Ohio State met. All six times the Buckeyes sent the Wolverines home early. That changed on Saturday afternoon when Michigan topped Ohio State 72-69 to advance to Sunday’s championship game for the first time since 1998.

Michigan started the game hitting everything in sight. Nik Stauskas got the scoring started with a three and after Aaron Craft hit a two-point jumper, Glenn Robinson III and Caris LeVert added threes. Robinson then stole the ball for a breakaway layup and Jordan Morgan scored back to back baskets to give Michigan a quick 15-2 lead.

Ohio State scored the next five before Stauskas hit his second three of the game. At the eight-minute mark, Michigan led 30-16 and looked as if it would cruise into the half. But Ohio State had other thoughts juts as it did when it came back from an 18-point second-half deficit on Friday night. The Buckeyes used a 21-11 run to close the half, heading into the locker room down just four points.

Stauskas started off the second half just as he did the first with a three, and after a LaQuinton Ross jumper, Derrick Walton Jr. hit a three and Stauskas added another to put Michigan back ahead by double digits. But once again Ohio State fought back. An alley-oop from Shannon Scott to Sam Thompson gave the Buckeyes their first lead of the game at 61-60 with 7:58 to play.

Caris LeVert made the play of the game by pulling down an offensive rebound in the closing seconds (MGoBlue.com)

Caris LeVert made the play of the game by pulling down an offensive rebound in the closing seconds (MGoBlue.com)

From there, the teams played evenly the rest of the way, neither able to pull away by more than three. Jordan Morgan hit one of two free throws and LeVert followed with a three, but Scott answered with a three of his own to tie the game at 64. LeVert made one of two free throws and OSU got back to back layups by Ross and Thompson to grab a 68-65 lead.

On Michigan’s next trip down the court, Stauskas hit a pull-up jumper to bring Michigan within one with 3:45 to play. After an Ohio State missed shot, Robinson was fouled and made both to reclaim the lead. On the other end, Morgan fouled Aaron Craft, but the Buckeye senior uncharacteristically missed both.

On the ensuing possession, Stauskas got the ball on the left baseline with his back to the basket. Craft went for the steal and Stasukas was able to get around him, drive baseline and lay the ball in to put Michigan ahead 71-68 with 2:08 left.

After missed shots on both ends, Morgan picked up his fifth foul of the game. Ross was able to make one of two and Michigan took possession with 44 seconds remaining, up by two. Stauskas ran the clock down as far as possible and heaved up a three, but it clanged off the rim. However, LeVert soared through the lane and grabbed the rebound, kicking it out to Spike Albrecht, who was fouled with six seconds left.

Albrecht made the first to give Michigan a three-point lead. He missed the second and Craft grabbed the rebound and raced down the court desperately needing a three to send the game into overtime. As he pulled up from the top of the key, the ball slipped out of his hands and he was unable to get a shot off as time expired.

The win put Michigan in the championship game for the first time since it won the inaugural Big Ten Tournament in 1998. It also ended Ohio State’s streak of five straight championship game appearances.

Stauskas paced Michigan with 18 points on 6-of-12 shooting, 4-of-8 from three-point range. LeVert added 17 points and eight rebounds, while Robinson III contributed 11 points. Walton Jr and Morgan each scored eight points and pulled down five boards. Zak Irvin hit two big threes in the first half to add six points.

As a team, Michigan shot 53.2 percent overall and made 9-of-22 three-pointers, but hit just 10-of-19 from the free throw line. Ohio State also shot well, 48.2 percent overall and 44.8 percent from downtown. The Buckeyes out-rebounded Michigan 31 to 26.

Michigan faces its other big rival, Michigan State, on Sunday afternoon in the championship game. The Wolverines topped the Spartans in both of the regular season meetings, but Michigan State has all of its starters back from injury at this point and looked good in beating Wisconsin in Saturday’s other semifinal. Win, and Michigan should gain a one-seed in next week’s NCAA Tournament. Lose a close game, and a one-seed is still a possibility.

Three Stars

***Caris LeVert***
17 points (6-of-9 FG, 2-of-4 3PT, 3-of-5 FT), eight rebounds (one offensive), two assists, four turnovers in 37 minutes

**Nik Stauskas**
18 points (6-of-12 FG, 4-of-8 3PT, 2-of-3 FT), one rebound, one assist, one steal, two turnovers in 34 minutes

*Shannon Scott*
18 points (7-of-10 FG, 4-of-6 3PT, 0-of-1 FT), five rebounds, six assists, three steals, two turnovers in 32 minutes

Quick Hitters:


___________________________________________________________

Final Game Stats
# Name FG-FGA 3FG-3FGA FT-FTA OR DR TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN
01 Glenn Robinson III* 4-8 1-2 2-2 1 1 2 0 11 1 1 2 3 36
10 Derrick Walton Jr.* 3-6 2-3 0-0 0 5 5 1 8 4 3 0 2 29
11 Nik Stauskas* 6-12 4-8 2-3 0 1 1 0 18 1 2 0 1 34
52 Jordan Morgan* 3-4 0-0 2-7 1 4 5 5 8 3 0 0 0 30
23 Caris LeVert* 6-9 2-4 3-5 1 7 8 1 17 2 4 0 0 37
02 Spike Albrecht 1-4 1-3 1-2 0 0 0 2 4 1 1 0 1 11
15 Jon Horford 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 1 1 2 0 2 1 1 0 10
21 Zak Irvin 2-3 2-3 0-0 0 1 1 0 6 1 0 0 0 13
Totals 25-47 12-23 10-19 5 21 26 11 72 15 12 3 7 200
Ohio State 27-56 7-19 8-12 9 22 31 18 69 17 1 2 10 200
Full Stats

Justin’s 3 thoughts: Ohio State

Saturday, March 15th, 2014


Michigan-Ohio State header_BTT

Michigan survived a scare from Illinois on Friday afternoon to avoid becoming the first No. 1 seed in 11 years to lose its opening round game to a No. 8 or No. 9 seed. Ohio State, meanwhile, did just what it always does in the Big Ten Tournament — win games. After fending off a pesky Purdue squad in the opening round game on Thursday, Ohio State faced a much tougher matchup against a surging Nebraska team fighting for its NCAA Tournament life. The Buckeyes fell behind by 18 points in the second half, but battled back to pull off a 71-67 win.

Michigan and Ohio State squared off just once this season, a 70-60 Michigan win in Columbus on Feb. 11, but the two have a long history in the conference tournament, and it’s not good at all for the Wolverines. Ohio State has knocked Michigan out of the tournament all six times they have faced off (1999, 2002, 2007, 2010, 2011, 2012). The Buckeyes were the higher seed and favored each time, so that’s the one difference from this year’s meeting.

Here are my three keys to ending that streak:

Michigan's defense must keep Aaron Craft out of the lane and force him to shoot from outside (Brian Spurlock, USA Today Sports)

Michigan’s defense must keep Aaron Craft out of the lane and force him to shoot from outside (Brian Spurlock, USA Today Sports)

Don’t settle

On Friday, Michigan’s offense looked stagnant for long periods at a time. Illinois’ aggressive zone defense and Jordan Morgan’s foul trouble kept Michigan out of the paint and the Wolverines settled for three-pointers. Sometimes that works — Michigan does lead the Big Ten in three-point percentage — but others it doesn’t. When taken in the normal flow of the offense or open looks, Beilein will never tell his players to stop shooting. But that’s not what the offense was for most of the second half.

In fact, the 30 three-point attempts were the most since Michigan chucked 31 against Nebraska on Feb. 5, and it was just the third time this season the Wolverines attempted 30 or more. They average 21 attempts per game.

Ohio State’s pressure defense is well known as Aaron Craft and Shannon Scott are adept at harassing opposing guards and forcing turnovers. Michigan’s guards are more than capable of handling the pressure, but they’ll need to keep the offense moving and avoid digressing it into one-on-one drives and long shots late in the shot clock.

In the season’s only meeting, Michigan shot just 17 threes — and made eight of them. More importantly, both big men, Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford were involved in the offense, combining for 14 points and 12 rebounds. That’s what it will take to beat the Buckeyes on Saturday.

Contain Ross and Smith

Ohio State’s offense has had trouble scoring points for most of the season, and when the teams faced off in Columbus it was virtually a two-man show. LaQuinton Ross and Lenzelle Smith Jr. combined for 37 of the Buckeyes’ 60 points. Both have the ability to hit the three, although Ross missed all four of his attempts and Smith made 3-of-9. Michigan’s defense needs to force them to pass up the three and let others, especially Craft and Scott, shoot.

Craft is shooting just a hair over 30 percent from downtown on the season and is just two for his last 16. He’s most dangerous when he puts his head down and drives to the basket, able to finish or dish it off to a big man, so keep him outside the arc and make him shoot. Scott shoots just 27.3 percent from three and has made just 7-of-32 since Jan. 7.

Ross, meanwhile, has put Ohio State on his back late in the season, averaging 21 points per game over the last five including a season-high 26 against Nebraska on Friday. Smith has struggled as of late, having made just six of his last 21 shots from the field in the last three games and six of his last 28 three-pointers dating back to Feb. 15. Still, he has made at least three three-pointers in a game eight times this season, so he can’t be left alone.

Play like the underdog

Michigan won the first meeting on the road by 10. They ran away with the regular season conference title and are the No. 1 seed. The bulls eye is squarely on their back. But they need to play like Ohio State is favored. The Buckeyes will certainly be hungry to avenge that loss and move to the Big Ten Tournament Championship game for the sixth straight season.

Michigan must forget the history behind this matchup in the tournament and simply match Ohio State’s intensity from the opening tip. In all reality, neither team has much to play for in the grand scheme of the season — they’re both locks for high seeds in the Big Dance — but rivalry bragging rights are on the line. Play with fire out of a desire to get the season sweep of Ohio State just like they did against Michigan State.

Prediction: Michigan 72 – Ohio State 70, OT