The No. 19 Michigan Wolverines (18-10, 9-8 Big Ten) travel to Columbus, Ohio, to face the No. 23 Ohio State Buckeyes (19-9, 9-8 Big 10) on Sunday. Michigan and Ohio State sit in a tie for seventh place in the Big Ten Conference standings with three games remaining.
Ohio State won the first meeting between these two teams by three (61-58) back in early February. The conference tilt is set to tipoff at 4 pm EST inside Value City Arena. Ohio State is a four-point favorite.
What to Know – Michigan
Michigan is coming off a seven-point loss at home Thursday night to Wisconsin, snapping a five-game winning streak. The Wolverines have won their last four road conference contests after starting the season 0-5 away from home. Juwan Howard is in his first season as head coach of his alma mater.
The Wolverines showcase five players that average in double figures, led by junior forward Isaiah Livers (13.8 ppg) and senior guard Zavier Simpson (13.0 ppg). Simpson is coming off his career-best scoring output, netting 32 points on 14-for-22 shooting from the floor. Freshman guard Franz Wagner has 16.7 points over the last four contests, shooting 61% from the floor and 41% from beyond the arc.
Michigan averages 75.4 points per game offensively and are atop the conference in field goal percentage, shooting 46.2% from the field. Defensively, Michigan allows 67.8 per game. Michigan ranks 25th in the NCAA NET rankings system.
The Wolverines’ strength of schedule is ranked in the top-3 in all ranking systems (Sagarin, ESPN’s BPI, KenPom). It is unclear if Michigan’s starter Eli Brooks will suit up.
What to Know – Ohio State
The Buckeyes have won seven of their last nine games, including a current two-game winning streak. A win Sunday would give the Buckeyes their 30th season with 20 or more victories. OSU has a sparkling 14-2 record at home this season, including a 6-2 mark in conference play. Ohio State owns an overall 98-78 record all-time against Michigan.
Forward Kaleb Wesson (14.0 ppg, 9.6 rpg) paces the Buckeyes in points and rebounds. The junior was the spark that fueled OSU’s victory in the previous contest, behind 23 points and 12 rebounds. Wesson has tallied 11 double-doubles this season and 17 for his career.
Sophomore guard Duane Washington Jr. (11.0 ppg) and freshman guard D.J. Carton (10.4 ppg) also average in double figures for the Buckeyes.
Offensively, the Buckeyes average 72.0 points per game while allowing 62.3 per game on defense. Ohio State has scored above its season average in its last three contests. The Buckeyes rank 16th in the NET rankings.
The Pick is In
Ohio State has been very successful on its home floor this season, including perfect through February. The Buckeyes have also had favorable success as of late, stringing together a pair of victories. Eli Brooks’ uncertainty, paired with a mediocre road record, leads us to lean with the Buckeyes. We like the Buckeyes -4 in this one.