MICHIGAN WOLVERINES (16-0)
at OHIO STATE BUCKEYES (12-3)
Tip-off: Sunday, 1:30 p.m. ET
Line: Ohio State -2, Total: 140
No. 2 Michigan tries to stay unbeaten Sunday when it faces its toughest test of the season, a trip to its biggest rival, No. 15 Ohio State.
The Wolverines are 10-5 ATS, but they have played just two true road games all season, at Bradley and at Northwestern. Ohio State's three defeats have all come versus top teams, with losses to No. 1 Duke, No. 6 Kansas and No. 12 Illinois. The Buckeyes are 9-1 SU at home, but just 5-3 ATS in Columbus. Ohio State has dominated this rivalry since 2005, going 16-3 SU, but Michigan has kept the scores tight, going 7-2 ATS in the past nine meetings.
Can Ohio State hand the rival Michigan its first loss of the season? The StatFox experts have a collective 19-14 ATS (58%) mark in the past four days, boosting them to 53% ATS (219-198-8) in college basketball Best Bets for the season, led by StatFox Gary, who sits at 58.1% ATS (50-34) for the season, while StatFox Dave is at 54.1% ATS (80-68-3) on the year. Dave is also 5-1-1 ATS (83%) since Nov. 24 when he mentions the word "hammer" in his analysis, including 3-1 ATS when he uses the term "Hammertime" for a favorite covering a large spread. StatFox Scott is 51.1% ATS for the season, after going 7-3 ATS since Monday.
Michigan scores 80.8 PPG this season, good for 10th in the nation. The Wolverines also shoot 51.4% from the floor (4th in D-I) and 41.1% from three-point land (11th in nation). PG Trey Burke has done an amazing job in all facets of the game, with a team-best 18.2 PPG on 53.3% FG (39.2% threes) and 78% FT. But even more impressive is his 4.0 Ast/TO ratio with 116 assists (7.3 APG) and just 29 turnovers (1.8 TOPG). In his past four games -- three versus Big Ten opponents -- Burke has 20.5 PPG, 31 assists and just five turnovers. Burke's backcourt mate, SG Tim Hardaway Jr., has also been outstanding with 16.3 PPG on 48% FG and 38.4% threes this season. This dynamic duo will be looking for some redemption though, as they combined to make just 4-of-21 shots in Michigan's 77-55 loss to Ohio State in the 2012 Big Ten Tournament. The Wolverines are much more than a two-man team though, as SF Nik Stauskas (13.5 PPG) is tied for 11th in the nation in three-point shooting (52.3%) and also makes 85% of his free throws. Forwards Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary do the dirty work inside with 6.1 RPG apiece. Robinson is currently on a five-game streak of 10+ points, averaging 15.4 PPG on a blistering 72.1% FG during this ride.
Ohio State's offense is also strong with 75.9 PPG on 46.2% FG, but only two players have been reliable scorers on a nightly basis, F Deshaun Thomas and SG Lenzelle Smith, Jr. Thomas (20.3 PPG, 6.8 RPG) shoots 47.2% FG, 40.4% threes and 78.3% FT this season, scoring at least 14 points in every game, including 22.7 PPG on 52% FG during a three-game streak of 20+ points. Thomas also scored 22 points (10-of-15 FG) in his team's 22-point rout of Michigan in the last meeting. Smith has been more erratic with his shot, scoring 15.0 PPG on 57% FG in his past two home games followed by a pathetic 5.0 PPG on 27% FG in two January games, both on the road. Smith scored 17 points and pulled down 12 boards in a 64-49 home win over Michigan last season, but managed just five points on 1-of-5 FG in his other two meetings with the rival Wolverines. PG Aaron Craft (8.9 PPG, 4.7 APG) continues to be an offensive disappointment this season as his 39.8% FG is considerably lower than his 50.0% FG from last season. But his turnovers are also way down (from 2.2 to 1.4 TOPG), and he's committed just four miscues over the past four games combined. Craft also made 6-of-7 shots in a 15-point effort in Tuesday's 74-64 win at Purdue. Backup PG Shannon Scott has also done a phenomenal job taking care of the basketball with 69 assists and just 14 turnovers this season (4.93 Ast/TO ratio).