Wolverines, Buckeyes clash
January 13, 2013
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MICHIGAN WOLVERINES (16-0) at OHIO STATE BUCKEYES (12-3)
Sportsbook.ag Line: Ohio State -1.5
No. 2 Michigan tries to stay unbeaten Sunday when it faces its toughest test of the season, a trip to its biggest rival, No. 15 Ohio State.
The Wolverines are 10-5 ATS, but they have played just two true road games all season, at Bradley and at Northwestern. Ohio State's three defeats have all come versus top teams, with losses to No. 1 Duke, No. 6 Kansas and No. 12 Illinois.
The Buckeyes are 9-1 SU at home, but just 5-3 ATS in Columbus. Ohio State has dominated this rivalry since 2005, going 16-3 SU, but Michigan has kept the scores tight, going 7-2 ATS in the past nine meetings. Although Michigan's offense is as good as any in the nation, OSU usually plays extremely tough defense at Value City Arena, allowing a paltry 53.7 PPG at home this season. Granted, the Wolverines are better than they were last year, but they went 5-6 SU on the road during the 2011-12 campaign with a meager 63.0 PPG. Also, the Buckeyes have outshot Michigan in seven of the past eight meetings.
Michigan scores 80.8 PPG this season, good for 10th in the nation. The Wolverines also shoot 51.4% from the floor (4th in D-I) and 41.1% from three-point land (11th in nation). PG Trey Burke has done an amazing job in all facets of the game, with a team-best 18.2 PPG on 53.3% FG (39.2% threes) and 78% FT. But even more impressive is his 4.0 Ast/TO ratio with 116 assists (7.3 APG) and just 29 turnovers (1.8 TOPG). In his past four games -- three versus Big Ten opponents -- Burke has 20.5 PPG, 31 assists and just five turnovers. Burke's backcourt mate, SG Tim Hardaway Jr., has also been outstanding with 16.3 PPG on 48% FG and 38.4% threes this season.
This dynamic duo will be looking for some redemption though, as they combined to make just 4-of-21 shots in Michigan's 77-55 loss to Ohio State in the 2012 Big Ten Tournament. The Wolverines are much more than a two-man team though, as SF Nik Stauskas (13.5 PPG) is tied for 11th in the nation in three-point shooting (52.3%) and also makes 85% of his free throws. Forwards Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary do the dirty work inside with 6.1 RPG apiece. Robinson is currently on a five-game streak of 10+ points, averaging 15.4 PPG on a blistering 72.1% FG during this ride.
Ohio State's offense is also strong with 75.9 PPG on 46.2% FG, but only two players have been reliable scorers on a nightly basis, F Deshaun Thomas and SG Lenzelle Smith, Jr. Thomas (20.3 PPG, 6.8 RPG) shoots 47.2% FG, 40.4% threes and 78.3% FT this season, scoring at least 14 points in every game, including 22.7 PPG on 52% FG during a three-game streak of 20+ points. Thomas also scored 22 points (10-of-15 FG) in his team's 22-point rout of Michigan in the last meeting. Smith has been more erratic with his shot, scoring 15.0 PPG on 57% FG in his past two home games followed by a pathetic 5.0 PPG on 27% FG in two January games, both on the road. Smith scored 17 points and pulled down 12 boards in a 64-49 home win over Michigan last season, but managed just five points on 1-of-5 FG in his other two meetings with the rival Wolverines.
PG Aaron Craft (8.9 PPG, 4.7 APG) continues to be an offensive disappointment this season as his 39.8% FG is considerably lower than his 50.0% FG from last season. But his turnovers are also way down (from 2.2 to 1.4 TOPG), and he's committed just four miscues over the past four games combined. Craft also made 6-of-7 shots in a 15-point effort in Tuesday's 74-64 win at Purdue. Backup PG Shannon Scott has also done a phenomenal job taking care of the basketball with 69 assists and just 14 turnovers this season (4.93 Ast/TO ratio).