When Ohio State travels to Michigan this evening at 6:30 on the Big Ten Network, it'll be a case of opposites colliding.
The No. 2 ranked Buckeyes with veteran mainstays like David Lighty and Wiliam Burford will meet a talented but young Michigan team led by names like Darius Morris and Tim Hardaway Jr. Not surprisingly, the veteran Ohio State squad is having a great season while Michigan is still experiencing growing pains.
The Buckeyes will be looking for their 17th straight win to open the season after talking out Minnesota at home on Sunday. Led by freshman Jared Sullinger and the aforementioned upperclassmen, the Buckeyes have run through their schedule with relative ease.
On the other side of the coin, though, Michigan has had an inconsistent season. At 11-5, the Wolverines have shown a lot of promise at times, but have disappointed in others. They almost took down No. 3 Kansas in overtime their last time out, but also struggled offensively in a loss to Wisconsin.
Should be interesting to see which team wins the battle of old vs. new.
Keys to the game after the jump.
When Michigan Has The Ball
- The Wolverines should try to get Hardaway and Morris going early. They went for 19 and 16 points against Kansas respectively, and kept Michigan in the game against a tough team. If they can get going again, maybe the results will be different this time around.
- Kansas did a good job controlling the lane against Michigan. With Sullinger in the middle, Ohio State has a good chance to do that, too, and if it can, then the Buckeyes will have much less area on the court to worry about defending.
When Ohio State Has The Ball
- Sullinger is dangerous not only for his scoring, but his rebounding as he averages a double-double. Michigan should try to focus on taking one of those elements away defensively rather than burn itself out trying to cover for both.
- Zack Novak has averaged double figures for Michigan the past three games. He's establishing some consistency, and the Wolverines will need him to keep it going to have a chance to win.
Ohio State is playing great basketball right now and Michigan may have a letdown after playing Kansas so hard the other night. Someday soon, if these young Michigan players continue to develop, Michigan-Ohio State could get as heated on the hardwood as it is outside, but for now, the Buckeyes probably have the stronger team.