Preview: Michigan at Ohio State
Ohio State attempts to continue its recent turnaround and No. 18 Michigan seeks to rebound from a bad loss when the No. 20 Buckeyes visit the Wolverines in Big Ten play on Tuesday. Ohio State has strung together three straight victories after a stretch during which it lost five of six games and is tied for fourth place in the conference. Michigan is tied for first with Michigan State but never was in the contest while being routed 85-67 by Iowa on Saturday.
Buckeyes point guard Aaron Craft was named Big Ten Player of the Week after helping lead the resurgence, but coach Thad Matta remains cautious after the January plunge. âYou like to feel good, but right now one bad segment can cost you the game,â Matta said after Saturdayâs win over Purdue. âI hope our guys are feeling better about what weâre doing, why were doing it and how weâre doing it.â The Wolverinesâ margin of defeat against Iowa was their largest since also losing by 18 to Wisconsin during the 2009-10 campaign.
ABOUT MICHIGAN (17-6, 9-2 Big Ten): Guard Caris LeVert has been the squadâs most reliable player of late with five straight double-digit performances to raise his season mark to 12.6, third on the team behind guard Nik Stauskas (17) and forward Glenn Robinson III (13.1). LeVert is averaging 16.2 points and 6.8 rebounds during the stretch, and his 22-point effort against Iowa was his fifth 20-point outing of the campaign. Backup guard Zak Irvin (7.5) also is playing well as he knocked down four 3-pointers in each of the last two games while averaging 17.5 points.
ABOUT OHIO STATE (19-5, 6-5): Guard Lenzelle Smith Jr. made four 3-pointers while scoring 16 points against Purdue and has made 14 of his team-best 41 3-pointers over the last six games. He ranks second on the squad in scoring (12) behind forward LaQuinton Ross (14.2), and the Buckeyes are 7-0 this season when he makes three or more 3-pointers. âIt feels great because if I can show my team I can make 3-pointers, I know they are going to look for me,â Smith said. âI donât have to worry about anything but getting my feet set and shooting the ball.â
1. Ohio State has won eight of the last 10 meetings.
2. Stauskas is averaging just 8.3 points on 5-of-15 shooting over the last three games.
3. Craft ranks seventh all-time in Big Ten history with 646 career assists after passing former Michigan State star Scott Skiles on Saturday.
PREDICTION: Ohio State 67, Michigan 65