Ohio St.-Michigan Preview
The memory of another frustrating loss to rival Ohio State last
month remains vivid in the collective minds of the Michigan
With that defeat as motivation, the No. 17 Wolverines try to
avoid a seventh consecutive loss to the sixth-ranked Buckeyes on
Saturday night in a Big Ten matchup at Crisler Arena.
Michigan (19-7, 9-4) trailed by three at halftime at Ohio State
on Jan. 29, but the Buckeyes used a 14-2 run midway through the
second half to win 64-49. By the end of the game, Buckeye fans
added insult to the result by singing “We Don’t Give A Damn For the
Whole State of Michigan.”
“It goes both ways, but we’ll be looking forward to (the next
meeting),” Michigan coach John Beilein said after the game.
The rematch is here, in a prime-time setting and on a court
where the Wolverines have won 15 straight dating to last
“(Ohio State is a) really good basketball team, but we’ve worked
hard and we feel good about the direction we’ve gone this week to
get ready,” Beilein told Michigan’s official website. “It certainly
is advantageous to get a win.”
Michigan is one game behind Big Ten co-leaders Ohio State (22-4,
10-3) and Michigan State, but has lost 15 of 17 against the
Buckeyes. Though Ohio State’s only two losses during that stretch
have come over the last four games in Ann Arbor, the Buckeyes have
held the Wolverines to an average of 58.3 points on 41.7 percent
shooting during the six-game overall winning streak in the series
that dates to a 73-64 loss at Crisler on Jan. 3, 2010.
The Wolverines shot 35.8 percent at Ohio State last month.
“Their defense was really suffocating at times,” said Beilein,
whose team has won two in a row and three of four since that
Tim Hardaway Jr. had 15 points and star freshman Trey Burke
added 14 as the Wolverines went 23 of 46 from the field in Sunday’s
70-61 home victory over Illinois.
Hardaway has scored 15 points in each of the last three meetings
with Ohio State while Burke (14.0 points, 4.8 assists per game)
added 13 but also had five turnovers against the Buckeyes last
month. Despite Burke’s troubles handling the ball in his hometown
of Columbus, Buckeyes guard Aaron Craft knows he’ll likely be in
for a handful against the talented point guard this time.
“Trey’s a great player,” said Craft, who had seven points and
four assists versus Michigan last month. “You know he’s going to be
in attack mode all the whole game.”
Ohio State sophomore and Burke’s former high school teammate
Jared Sullinger managed 13 points while dealing with foul trouble
against the Wolverines in January, but fellow sophomore Lenzelle
Smith Jr. helped pick up the slack with 17 points and 12
Sullinger has averaged 20.5 points and 10.0 rebounds in four
games since that contest. He had 23 points and eight boards Tuesday
as the Buckeyes won 78-68 at Minnesota, bouncing back from a 58-48
home loss to seventh-ranked Michigan State three days prior.
William Buford, held to four points on 2-of-12 shooting against
the Spartans, finished with 24 points, eight rebounds and five
assists at Minnesota.
“We just need to get that element of toughness back and keep
playing hard,” Sullinger said. “Five guys together. When you do
that, you’re pretty hard to beat.”
Ohio State snapped a four-game road skid against Top 25
opponents with a 58-52 victory at then-No. 19 Wisconsin on Feb.