Ohio State travels to Michigan tomorrow afternoon to take on the Wolverines. This game may very well feature the coronation of new Michigan head man Brady Hoke at halftime. It will be interesting to hear what Hoke says and compare it to Tressel’s memorable words of ten years ago. But, for now, let’s focus on the game.
|School:||University of Michigan|
|Location:||Ann Arbor, Michigan|
|Head Coach:||John Beilein|
Michigan has had a surprisingly good season this year. An 11-5 record includes no spectacular wins (other than a 69-51 win over tough Oakland) but a number of “good” losses, if there can be such a thing. Michigan has given both Syracuse (53-50 L) and Kansas (67-60 L OT) everything they could handle and some, but were simply unable to seal the deal. It is possible, given that the Kansas game was only three days ago, that the Wolverine’s will be emotionally drained from the effort they put up against the Jayhawks. However, it’s equally likely that Michigan will come fully prepared to give the Buckeyes the fight of their lives.
Clearly the Wolverines got one good coach from West Virginia.
This is an extraordinarily young basketball team. There are no seniors on this squad, and only three juniors. The balance are primarily freshmen, and impressive freshmen they are. The biggest name is most certainly guard Tim Hardaway Junior (6-5, 185). Hardaway has already cemented himself as the second leading scorer on the team with 11.3 points per game. Combined with his 3.8 rebounds makes Hardaway a particularly versatile athlete. He has also started to make a name for himself as the Wolverine’s three point shooting specialist. Unfortunately, despite taking the most three point shots on the team (86) he’s only hit 26.7% of his attempts.
While the freshman class at Michigan is impressive, the best player on the team is by far and away sophomore guard Darius Morris (6-4, 190). Morris easily has the most impressive statline on the team. While he has played the most time, he has also picked up 15 points, 3 rebounds and 7 assists per game with only 3 turnovers per game. He also shoots a smoking 50.3% from the field, making him dangerous to leave unguarded for any amount of time.
|Tim Hardaway Jr.||16||26.9||11.3||3.8||1.6||0.8||0.2||1.1||0.354||0.815||0.267|
The primary frontcourt players for the Wolverines are freshman forwards Evan Smotrycz (6-9, 225) and Jordan Morgan (6-8, 240). These two will have their hands full with Jared Sullinger, but as we saw on Sunday Sullinger can be contained with an effective double team. If the OSU shooters can’t find open looks, or their shots don’t fall, this could end up being a problematic game. The Michigan starting five, along with a number of the bench players, include some fantastic defenders that could give the Buckeyes a headache.
All in all, this game actually scares me more than the Minnesota game did. With the recent news of Brady Hoke’s hire, and what will likely be a halftime show involving him, the Michigan faithful should turn out in droves. With the Buckeyes seemingly struggling against the more substantial talent in the conference, and with the Big Ten coaches figuring out ways to eliminate OSU’s advantages on offense, this game could get tense pretty quick. Crisler arena has not treated the Buckeyes well during it’s lifetime, and I do not believe that streak will end easily.
The game will be played in Crisler Arena on Wednesday, January 12th at 6:30 PM Eastern Time. You’ll be able to see the game on the Big Ten Network.
Don’t forget to join us for our LiveBlog of the game, starting around 6 PM Eastern Time!