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This game may not be as intense as the football rivalry between these schools, but we can still expect a good matchup between these two. In the two games between these teams last year, the home team won both, by small margins.
Michigan is locked up with Michigan State for first place in the Big Ten at 9-2. Ohio State is out of the picture at 6-5, tied for fourth with Wisconsin. It doesn't get easier for the Wolverines as they get Wisconsin and MSU in their next two games. Since winning at Michigan State, Michigan has lost two straight on the road, at Indiana and Iowa.
Ohio State has had an interesting season so far. The Buckeyes started 15-0, but then lost five of their next six games including at Nebraska and home to Penn State. But as of late, they are back on the winning side with three straight including back-to-back road wins at Wisconsin and Iowa. While unpredictable, there's no doubt this team can fight with the best in the country.
It starts on the defensive end for OSU as that has been their only consistent this season. Aaron Craft and Shannon Scott form a potent defensive duo in the backcourt, and a slew of athletic forwards fill out the rest. However, even in the Big Ten, some kind of offense is needed to win games and the Buckeyes have been a question all year long on that end.
Craft does a lot for this team, but most of that doesn't come on the offensive end. LaQuinton Ross (14.2 PPG) and Lenzelle Smith Jr. (12 PPG) are the best of the bunch, both being lengthy players that can shoot the three and get to the hoop. The x-factors on this squad are Amir Williams and Sam Thompson. Both average less than 10 per game, but both have the ability to rack up points.
On the other end, it's going to be important for the young Michigan guards to stay composed on the road. In fact, it wouldn't be surprising to see Craft match up with Nik Stauskas (17 PPG) once in a while. While Stauskas has the height advantage, that doesn't always do it against Craft. Also of note, Stauskas hasn't been his normal self, averaging less than 10 points in the last three games. Point guard Derrick Walton Jr. has picked up his game this year, but this will be one of his tougher tasks.
Glenn Robinson III (13.1 PPG) is the other Wolverine to watch out for. After going for 23 points in the win against Nebraska, GRIII was only able to score two points in the loss at Iowa. He will probably match up with Smith Jr. in this game and that advantage may go to Robinson III.
Neither team has the greatest big men, but Michigan has struggled lately due to its poor presence in the paint. Jordan Morgan hasn't scored in the last two games, while you never know what you'll get from Jon Horford. The same can be said about Amir Williams, but at least he's someone you can't completely ignore in Ohio State's offense.
At home and with the way they are playing, the Buckeyes have the edge in this one. The Wolverines haven't lost two straight all season, but with the way they've looked on the road in their last two, it's hard to see a way they win. But of course if Stauskas goes off, you never know.
Predicted Score - Ohio State 68 Michigan 63
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