Big Ten Tournament Semifinals
4:00 PM Eastern on CBS
NCAA Basketball Spread: Off
Michigan and Ohio State split the season series at one a piece. The rivals will meet again Saturday afternoon in the semifinals of the Big Ten Conference Tournament. Each team won on their home floor, and now they’ll get a rubber match on a neutral court in Indianapolis. This matchup will be key to determining where these two teams are seeded in the NCAA Tournament. Expect both teams to give their best effort in this one.
Before the season started Michigan fans worried about the point guard spot. Darius Morris was a very talented guard, but he stunned fans when he decided to go to the NBA after last season. It turns out the point guard spot is filled nicely by a star freshman. Trey Burke has been the Wolverines best player this year. Minnesota seemingly had the Wolverines down and out yesterday evening, but Burke spearheaded a late comeback that pushed the game into overtime. Michigan went on to outlast the Golden Gophers 73-69. Burke scorched the nets for 30 points, and many of them came in crucial moments.
The Wolverines offense relies heavily on outside shooting. Zack Novak shoots 41% from beyond the arc. Novak is a scrappy senior guard who does everything it takes to win. Evan Smotrycz is a big man who can step out and bury the long ball. He shoots 44% from three-point range. Tim Hardaway Jr. has been off with his shot most of the year, but he is capable of lighting it up with his tremendous skill set. Michigan allows only 60.9 points per game.
Ohio State was in a tough battle for most of the game last night against Purdue, but a late 16-2 run burst the game open and the Buckeyes won 88-71. Jared Sullinger had what might have been his best game of the season. He put up 30 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. Ohio State shot 60% from the floor as a team. Aaron Craft had ten points, seven assists, and six rebounds in the win. Craft is the floor general at point guard, and he will be given the task of trying to shut down Burke in this matchup. Craft is one of the best on-the-ball defenders in the nation, so it should be a great show.
Ohio State seems to be at their best when they are out in transition. They will need to try to push the tempo and not allow Michigan to make this a game played in the 50’s. William Buford is a senior guard who is capable of scoring 25 or 30 points on a consistent basis, but he has been off with his shot most of the season. If Buford can get hot in March, the Buckeyes chances of going deep in the tournament are much higher. Ohio State’s defense is very good. Opponents shoot just 40.7% from the floor against the Buckeyes.
Look for a tough battle all the way here. In the end, I think the Buckeyes get the job done because of their big advantage on the inside.
Prediction: Ohio State 66 Michigan 60
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