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Michigan vs. Ohio State Basketball Game Preview

The Wolverines seek revenge against the Buckeyes after a controversial ending to last month’s matchup.

NCAA Basketball: Ohio State at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

It’s very rare for a team to go to Mackey Arena, home of the Purdue Boilermarkers, and win. And while the Wolverines won the game, they suffered a loss when Eli Brooks left the game with a broken nose. He carried a questionable designation into last Thursday’s game against Wisconsin and ended up not playing.

If you wondered before what Brooks brought this team, you got your answer: Three-point shooting and perimeter defense. Without him, the Wolverines made only three triples and were absolutely torched from the outside by the Badgers.

His status for tomorrow is still up in the air. He will likely be a game-time decision. The Wolverines could really use him for a road matchup with an Ohio State team that shoots well from deep.

What to Watch:

Help, but don’t overhelp: The last time these two teams met was about a month ago in Ann Arbor. Kaleb Wesson shot 9-of-14 from the field, including three 3-pointers en route to a 23 point performance. Coach Juwan Howard has been opposed to doubling the post for most of the season. It would be wise for some of Michigan’s wing defenders to “dig” down on the ball, which would force Wesson to give the ball up. There’s a fine line to be walked here though, because overhelping will result in open looks for Ohio State’s shooters. Michigan can’t afford to give up 11 made 3-pointers like they did on Thursday.

Balanced offensive attack: Zavier Simpson was great offensively Thursday. He scored a career-high 32 points, doing everything in his power to keep his team in the game. In the end, it wasn’t enough. Franz Wagner in the second half was about the only help that Simpson had on the offensive end. Simpson is much more of a creator and facilitator than scorer and Michigan is usually a better team when he’s penetrating and passing. In order for him to do this, his supporting cast has to step up and make some shots. Getting multiple guys into double digits will bode well for Michigan rather than relying on one guy to try to play hero ball.

Minute distribution at the five: Austin Davis has carved out a role for this team off the bench through his hard work and gritty effort. Meanwhile, Jon Teske hasn’t quite maintained the same level of play we saw from him very early in the year. Interestingly enough though, it was Brandon Johns Jr. who played the center spot for the Wolverines down the stretch against Wisconsin. Whether this is a sign of things to come is to be determined. Johns Jr. started in place of Eli Brooks and the large lineup didn’t end up paying off, possibly contributing to why the perimeter defense struggled mightily. Coach Howard may have been trying to make the correct adjustment by playing small to match Wisconsin’s size. Regardless, at this point all three big men will have roles moving forward.


I think Michigan will compete in this game, with or without Eli Brooks. If I knew he was going to play, I would pick Michigan; however, Ohio State hasn’t lost at home since January though and I’m not convinced Michigan can contain Wesson and the three-point shooting of the Buckeyes enough to win. Ohio State 73-69.

Game Info:

Teams: #19 Michigan Wolverines (18-10, 9-8) at #23 Ohio State Buckeyes (19-9, 9-8)

Date: Sunday, March 1, 2020

Location: Value City Arena, Columbus, Ohio

Time: 4:00 p.m. EST

Television/Streaming: CBS/CBS All-Access