It’s a couple great rivalry games in the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament which gets kicked off with the March 13th Ohio State vs Michigan matchup that tips off at 1:00 PM ET. OSU already has two tough wins under their belts this weekend, beating Minnesota 79-75 and outlasting Purdue in OT 87-78 on Friday.
Will two emotionally and physically demanding games make the Buckeyes vulnerable for the meeting with the Wolverines? Michigan was down at times in their tourney opener against Maryland, but ratcheted up the defense for a relatively easy 79-66 win. UM won the only meeting of the season between the two, 97-82 in Columbus and is a -6.5 favorite in this tilt.
Will Ohio State Have Young?
The Buckeyes may have needed OT to finish off the Boilermakers on Friday, but that’s not indicative of how they played most of the game. OSU had built up an 18-point lead at one point, but lost their momentum after Kyle Young caught an inadvertent elbow from Trevion Williams and was KO’d for the game.
Young had 18 points in just 19 minutes vs. Purdue, so if he’s listed out because of concussion protocol for the March 13th Ohio State vs Michigan game that’s a huge loss for OSU. Give the team credit, other players stepped up including Duane Washington, Jr. with 20 and E.J. Liddell adding 17. Against Michigan though you want all hands on deck.
The 87-92 loss to Michigan on February 21st kicked off a snowball effect that led to four straight defeats to close out the regular season for the Buckeyes. They broke that streak thanks to 50% shooting from the field vs. Minnesota on Thursday, but also have a date with the #3 defense in the Big Ten on Saturday.
Can Michigan Push the Pace?
It’s little mystery that what Michigan wants to do in this semifinal matchup is push the pace against a Buckeyes team playing their 3rd game in the last 72 hours. This is the spot teams usually run out of gas, especially when the games have been somewhat close as the Buckeyes’ first two were.
What’s unfortunate for OSU is that the Wolverines do have the horses to run a fast tempo game. Mike Smith looked like a ball of lightning vs. Maryland on Friday, scoring 18 points and dishing out a Big Ten tournament record 15 assists. Isaiah Livers played only 15 minutes on Friday, but is an experienced Senior ball handler. Franz Wagner also does some of his best work in the transition game.
If the Buckeyes are successful in slowing the pace, Michigan just has the big bodies to bruise you in the half court game most notably 7’1″, 255 pound Hunter Dickinson. The freshman had 22 points and 9 boards when the teams met last month, but his defense against Liddell needed work as the Buckeyes force in the post had 23 points and 10 rebounds.
Free March 13th Ohio State vs Michigan Pick
Usually getting +6.5 points in a rivalry game would look like a gift, but there’s a lot of things working against OSU right now. The Buckeyes have played two close games the last couple days, and now the status of one of their best players is murky because of a concussion. Michigan is going to be fired up after coach Juwan Howard was ejected on Friday, and this looks like a massacre ready to ensue.
Michigan 85 – Ohio State 71
Free Pick: Michigan -6.5