(4) Michigan vs. (13) Ohio: Midwest Region
Michigan 24-9, 13-5 Big Ten (Regular-season 3 Way-Conference Champs; At large)
Ohio 27-7, 11-5 MAC (Conference Tournament Champions)
Time: 7:20 p.m. Friday
Location: Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn.
Winner will face: (8) Memphis or (9) Saint Louis, Sunday
Michigan No. 13 AP; No. 14 ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll
Line: Michigan -6 (O/U 125½)
Players to Watch
Michigan: G Trey Burke, 5-11 Fr. (14.8 ppg, 4.6 apg, 3.5 rpg); G Tim Hardaway Jr., 6-6 So. (14.6 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 2.1 apg); F Jordan Morgan, 6-8 So. (7.3 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 62% FG). Burke was named Co-Freshman of the Year and second-team All-Big Ten by Big Ten coaches while leading the Wolverines in scoring, assists and steals.
Ohio: G D.J. Cooper, 5-11 Jr. (14.6 ppg, 5.7 apg, 2.4 spg); G Walter Offutt, 6-3 Jr. (11.7 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 1.5 spg); F Reggie Keely, 6-8 Jr. (9.2 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 53% FG). Cooper is the star, but Keely was the difference in the MAC Tournament with 35 points (on 12-of-20 from the field) and 20 rebounds in the 3-game tourney run.
Why Each Team Dangerous
Michigan: This team lost just one player – PG Darius Morris – from last year’s team that destroyed Tennessee and nearly beat Duke in the NCAA Tournament. And as it turns out, Burke is at least on the same level as Morris. The Big Ten champions aren’t a great shooting teams, but they have a lot of players who can hit shots from anywhere on the floor. They score 36.8 percent of their points from the 3-point line. Burke and Hardaway are an excellent 1-2 punch and six different Wolverines average at least 7.3 points. Michigan turns the ball over just 10.9 times per contest.
Ohio: The Bobcats had some head-scratching losses, but they won their last four games and eight of their last night, including two wins over MAC regular-season champion Akron. Cooper is one of the best players in this tournament and led Ohio to a first-round upset of Georgetown in the 2010 NCAA Tournament. Ohio wins with defense. The Bobcats have held opponents 62.4 points per game, to 41.2 percent from the field and 29.6 from beyond the 3-point line. They average an astounding 9.4 steals per game and force a lofty 17.6 turnovers.
Why Each Team is Vulnerable
Michigan: The Wolverines sometimes struggle to score. They scored 64 points or less in regulation 17 times in 33 games. Michigan only goes six or seven deep, so foul trouble could be an issue. The Wolverines were out-rebounded by their opponents this season and their opponents got to the foul line more often than they did. Michigan’s 492 free throw attempts was 324th in the country.
Ohio: Ohio’s offensive has been explosive at times, but it is not a good shooting team. It is shooting 42.9 percent from the field, 33.8 percent from the 3-point line and 68.1 percent from the foul line. The Bobcats were out-rebounded by their opponents and they had more turnovers than assists.
The Bottom Line: If Michigan gets out and runs, it can bury Ohio. They’ll probably stick with their usual gameplan, though, giving the Bobcats a chance to cover.
The Pick: Michigan 68, Ohio 63
Greg Against the Spread This Season: 198-150-6 (Through Tuesday, March 14)