Published on January 24th, 2012 | by Bryant West, Columnist0
Game of the Week: Michigan @ Ohio State
Who: #22 Michigan (15-5, 5-2 Big Ten) @ #3 Ohio State (17-3, 5-2 Big Ten)
Where: Value City Arena, Columbus, OH
When: Sunday, 1:00 p.m. Eastern, 10:00 a.m. Pacific
Why: Rivals clash in a showdown of ranked Big Ten opponents with a foothold on the Big Ten’s top seeding on the line.
Projected Starting Lineups:
For Michigan -
Jordan Morgan (8.9 PPG, 5.9 RPG, .5 BPG, 64.7% FG, 45.7% FT)
Stu Douglass (7.4 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 39.5% FG, 81.5% FT)
Zack Novak, (9.7 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 2.0 APG, 50.4% FG, 83.3% FT, 40.5% 3P)
Tim Hardaway Jr.(15.1 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 2.5 APG, 42.4% FG, 73.8% FT)
Trey Burke (14.6 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 4.9 APG, 43.6% 73.1% FT)
For Ohio State -
Jared Sullinger (17.1 PPG, 9.1 RPG, 0.8 BPG, 59.3% FG, 74.5% FT)
Deshaun Thomas (15.0 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 1.0 APG, 55.3 FG)
William Buford (15.2, 4.5 RPG, 3.4 SPG, 43.6% FG, 37.8% 3P)
Lenzelle Smith Jr. (6.2 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 2.2 APG, 51.8% FG, 48.6 3P)
Aaron Craft (8.0 PPG, 5.1 APG, 2.5 SPG, 51.8% FG, 68.9% FT)
Matchup to Watch For: Jared Sullinger vs. Jordan Morgan
Michigan has been playing small ball, with Morgan their lone starter who stands about 6’7′ (he is 6’8 and weighs in at 250 lbs). While Evan Smotrycz has been good off the bench for the Wolverines, Ohio State will likely attack the paint early and often.
Que Jared Sullinger, who should look for the ball as much as possible. He’s got lottery talent for sure and he’s one of the leading candidates for Player of the Year, and the Buckeyes will need him to set the tone. Last year against Michigan, he averaged 16.5 points and 11 rebounds on 55% shooting but turned it over an average of 5 times a contest.
Keys for Michigan:
1. Tim Hardaway Jr.’s Shot Selection: Over the past three games, two of which were losses for Michigan, Hardaway has shot a combined 8-30 from the filed and 1-16 from downtown. He’s never been known for his efficiency, but he’s the Wolverines’ top scorer and can’t afford to shoot like that against a top team like Ohio State.
2. Rebounding: Michigan is amongst the lowest of the ranked squads in rebounding, with just 33.1 rebounds a contest, good for just 258th in the NCAA. The Buckeyes, meanwhile, get 36.9 a contest, good for 78th best.
3. Keeping the Buckeyes Contained: Michigan allows just 60.9 points a contest and are pretty tough defenders. But Ohio State scores 78.0 points a contest, 27th best in college basketball.
Keys for Ohio State:
1. Size Advantage: It isn’t as if the entire Buckeyes lineup is taller than their Wolverines counterpart—only Sullinger and Deshaun Thomas have a distinct advantage against their starter counterpoints—but if Ohio State gets too in love with their outside shooting instead of attacking the paint, they don’t deserve to win.
2. Ball Movement: Part of the reason that Ohio State scores so much is their excellent ball movement. Their 16.8 assists per contest is 15th best in the nation. Michigan’s defense forces their opponents into an average of 13 turnovers a contest.
3. Force Michigan to shoot from the outside: Despite the fact that the Wolverines basically start three guards, they average just 34.3% from downtown, just 163rd in the NCAA. If the Buckeyes defense can keep the guards from penetrating, they could stall Michigan’s offense and easily win the game.
Prediction: Ohio State has a big advantage being at home, and an even bigger advantage with Sullinger going up against a weak Wolverines big man core. The Buckeyes should win this game somewhat easily.
Ohio State 72, Michigan 59
Photo Credit: Jim Dedmon/Icon SMI