Day 2 of the Big Ten Tournament brought a close call for the Bucks, but after pulling out the win over Northwestern, Ohio State now turns its attention to the Wolverines of Michigan. Going into Day 3 of the tournament, Ohio State should be back in rhythm and ready to go.  It will be important to get going early against Michigan, who likely solidified their entrance into the NCAA Tournament with their win today over Illinois (while in all probability also ending the Illini’s chances of making the NCAA’s).  Good job Michigan!  Oh, by the way…

 

Michigan won’t be as forgiving as Northwestern if Ohio State comes out of the gate with abysmal shooting once again.  The truly good news for the Buckeyes from today’s game was that despite their poor shooting from the floor, they were knocking down the free throw’s with consistency.  A really good formula for improving their field goal percentage for their game against Michigan would be to get back to the free throw line.  By picking up fouls early (particularly by pounding it inside to Sullinger), Ohio State should be in good shape to both get the Wolverine big men in foul trouble and find their shooting touch in the first half.  

Speaking of Sullinger (now with shaved head), tomorrow’s game could quickly turn into a back-and-forth match between the teams’ respective stars if Darius Morris brings his best, as expected.  At times a game can turn into a two-man contest, with the players trading offensive punches back and forth.  It’s entirely possible that such a display will occur tomorrow between Sullinger and Morris, and this game may turn into one of the more memorable contests of the Big Ten Tournament.  Although, it would be hard to beat this memory…

 

Interestingly, Ohio State last played Michigan following a close game against Northwestern.  In that game against the Wolverines it was defense that made the difference.  Committing to the defensive end and letting the offense come naturally would serve the Buckeyes well.  Given the prior two contests against Michigan this year, the game will be a battle the whole way.  Here’s a few more points to look for tomorrow:

  • Morris….and Co.?  While it’s a safe bet that Michigan will rely heavily on Darius Morris to carry the day, it will be interesting to see if John Beilein essentially puts the ball in Morris’ hands from the start, or if he’ll have his team run their offense and then gravitate toward Morris over the course of the game.  In either case, Ohio State will need to negate the impact of the role players like Hardaway, Jr. and Novak to avoid the upset.
  • A new ‘do?  Now that we’re into tournament time, and teams are playing for higher stakes, will we see something new from our Buckeye team other than Sullinger’s clean-cut look?  Some may say that it would be inappropriate at this point to shake things up for fear of disrupting the balance.  If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  On the other hand, having faced a team twice already and looking for any edge you can get, maybe something new would be just what the doctor ordered to bring renewed energy and put the opponent on their heels.  This could be a slightly different offensive strategy, such as posting up Lighty and Buford against smaller guards, switching to a zone defense in spurts, or running a surprise press.
  • Jared Sullinger’s butt.  If you haven’t noticed, it’s all the rage.  Pat Forde credited it for the win over Northwestern today.

The game against the Wolverines is set for 1:40pm EST tomorrow and will be on the Big Ten Network.  Let’s go Buckeyes!

Comment On Article