For most fans, all that matters is beating Michigan on the gridiron. These days, things have changed as Michigan has actually been able to become a true challenge the past few seasons. Of course, it took recruiting out of state to get to the top, but the Wolverines have arrived.
Now the only question is can they beat the best.
School: University of Michigan
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Student Population: 41,674
School Type: Public
Conference: Big Ten Conference
Head Coach: Jon Beilein
Previewing the Wolverines:
As Eric stated on Friday, Michigan’s season has been up to par with what we have expected. Despite dropping some games that they shouldn’t have, the Wolverines have started a lotthanks to some great play all around. Freshman point guard Trey Burke has really come out of the gates firing, giving the Wolverines a true floor general on the court. His 5 assists per game have really been the difference in how this offense has progressed. He is the second leading scorer at 14 points per game, but his ability to distribute the basketball has been the major key in this team starting off strong compared to last season.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Tim Hardaway Jr. has continued to mature on the court as well. The sophomore is averaging 15 points per game, bringing down three rebounds and upped his assists to nearly three per contest. The key in this one will be the play of those guards.
Can Trey Burke remain composed while covered by Aaron Craft? Can the Buckeyes hold back Tim Hardaway jr. with Lenzelle Smith Jr. defending him?
The true question is can red-shirt sophomore Jordan Morgan keep Jared Sullinger in check throughout the afternoon. Morgan has really come around in his second year on the court. His play has been more physical this season despite a slow start. He has put together back to back solid performances, including a tied season high of 16 points against Arkansas and a 12 points 7 rebound performance against Purdue last time out.
The key scoring for the team up north will come from Stu Douglass and Zack Novak. Both ill be honed in on the mid range jumper and landing from downtown. If they can get involved on the floor by distributing it or creating second chance points they will give Michigan a chance. If they also get space to shoot the jump shot, Ohio State could be in trouble.
The Story Line:
There will always be the bad blood line to follow any time these two schools meet in athletics. As you’ve probably noticed through Ohio media today though, the story of former teammates J.D. Weatherspoon, Jared Sullinger and Trey Burke make this game even more exciting and even adds to the rivalry.
Burke was last season’s Mr. Basketball in the state, and his best offer came from Michigan. The three star recruit was wanted by the likes of Northwestern, Penn State, and Iowa — but ultimately made the right decision by going to an up and coming program with the best possibility of him to see the floor right away.
Hopefully the connection between these three will put a fire back into a rivalry that has been rather dead in the last few seasons despite competitive basketball.
The Four Factors:
As you can see, a huge factor is this one will be second chance points. Ohio State does it better on a nightly basis, but they have had their nights were rebounding almost seems secondary. If you know the Michigan system, rebounding is secondary to hoisting up shots. The Buckeyes have to get to the line, use their rebounding advantage to control the pace, and hit wide open shots in order to win. At the Value City Arena, we’ll see a great basketball game for a half.
Ohio State should take care of things in the second though.