For the first time ever the top four seeds of the Big Ten tournament have advanced to the semi-finals. The three co-champions are still in, and still have an opportunity to prove that they are indeed the best team in the Big Ten.
Ohio State and Michigan get to prove it on the court today.
Today is the rubber game in this season’s series. Both teams split the regular season meetings, with the Buckeyes taking a 64-49 win at home, while Michigan emerged victorious in Ann Arbor 56-51.
But this game has even more historical significance. The Buckeyes and Wolverines have encountered each other repeatedly over the last several years in the Big Ten Tournament. Last season, the Bucks handled Michigan in the semi-finals 68-61 by opening up a significant lead halfway through the second half and coasting to the win. The year before saw Evan Turner’s last second buzzer beater sink Michigan’s hopes of upsetting the #1 seed in the quarterfinals, ending a fairly close game 69-68.
The Wolverines welcomed the Buckeyes into the Crisler center this weekend, and sent the Buckeyes packing with their fifth loss of the season by a score of 56-51. The Buckeyes struggled shooting the whole night but had several chances to tie it up late in the second. Unfortunately, Michigan did just enough to keep Ohio State from ever gaining the lead. DeShaun Thomas had a huge game for the Buckeyes picking up a double double by scoring 25 points on 8-13 shooting, including 3-6 from three, and grabbing 13 rebounds. Trey Burke lead the Wolverines with 17 points and 5 assists for the game.
The Michigan defense came to play early in this one. Ohio State’s offense needed several trips before they finally found their first bucket from the left elbow from DeShaun Thomas – a shot he repeated on the subsequent trip down. The Wolverines weren’t going to let such a golden opportunity escape them, putting down 8 points before the first TV timeout and getting the crowd into the game in a big way.
The offensive explosion from the guys in maize was particularly impressive as they spread the scoring out evenly amongst the starters. Trey Burke had a nice dribble drive with several spin moves to get a good close range shot, while Tim Hardaway had an excellent 18 footer from the left wing. Morgan and Novak also hit a couple easy baskets to help out the run.
Hardaway came to play in this one and dropped several big shots from the outside. Having disappeared for several straight games, his presence was much needed for this Michigan team to have success. With his shots falling from the outside, especially with Buford going cold for most of the night, it was a very bad sign for the Bucks on the road.
The Buckeyes are in the AA this evening for their second shooty hoops battle with the Michigan Wolverines! The game tips at 9:00 PM EST on ESPN.
While you wait, go checkout our friends in the Buckeye Bloggers Network! the Buckeye Blog, OSU Silver Bullet, Buckeye House Call, Our Honor Defend, and Men of the Scarlet and Gray. Fox Sports Ohio also joins us as usual. The liveblog will kickoff at 8:30 PM EST.
The Buckeyes, having recovered from their loss to the little brothers with a solid win over the Golden Gophers, now have to travel to Ann Arbor to face the plucky Wolverines for the second time this season.
Michigan, currently ranked #17 in the AP Poll, has absolutely earned that ranking the last couple of weeks. While they are only 3-2 through their last five games, their two losses have come at Ohio State (64-49) and at Michigan State (64-54). In turn, they’ve picked up impressive wins against #20 Indiana, and Illinois, and also picked up a nice (but not necessarily quality) win at Nebraska.
Michigan’s sophomores struggled at times during the slump. Tim Hardaway Jr. (6-6, 200) in particular struggled to hit his shot in their games against Michigan State and Nebraska, scoring a combined 10 points in those outings. For reference, recall that he scored 15 against the Buckeyes in a general rout. Hardaway is an important cog in the Wolverine’s offense, so it was critical to their postseason outlook that he managed to emerge against Illinois this week and score 15.
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. Read More