Greetings Hoops Fans! This is Dave Horning for HoopsOnLane.com Fan Podcast with a preview of the upcoming Ohio State Buckeyes Men’s Basketball game against the Michigan Wolverines to be played on Sunday, February 18th at the Crisler Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Tip-Off is 1:00pm. The game will be broadcast on radio on The Fan 97.1FM, and televised on CBS.

In the Team Rankings website of all 351 Division1 Men’s Basketball programs, Ohio State is now ranked Number 20 and Michigan is ranked Number 40. In the AP Poll, Ohio State is ranked 8th and Michigan is ranked 22nd – that poll changes on Mondays, so it does not reflect the Ohio State loss at Penn State.

However, ESPN’s Braketology expert, Joe Lunardi, has Michigan listed among the “First 4 Out” – not making the NCAA tournament. How can that be for a team ranked 22nd in the AP Poll? Since there are 32 conferences, including the Big Ten, there are only 36 at-large bids for the field of 68. According to Lunardi, Michigan is not one of those 36 best at-large teams – even though they stand alone in 5th place in the Big Ten with a record of 10 wins and 5 losses and a season long record of 21 wins against 7 losses.

Michigan is playing hungry, like Penn State, because they have a possible NCAA invitation riding on the outcome of the game while the Buckeyes are almost assured of an invitation.

Michigan played last on Valentine’s Day – February 14th – a home game victory over Iowa by the score of 74-59. In that game, Number 22, 6-8 Senior Guard Duncan Robinson, came off the bench for Michigan to score 18 points, making 6 of 8 3-point shots, while the rest of the Wolverines made only 6 of 25. Even if he doesn’t start, look for Number 22 – Duncan Robinson – to come off the bench and try to light it up. Ohio State must defend Duncan Robinson’s 3-point shots, something we did not do at Penn State against Shep Garner and Tony Carr.

For the entire season, Michigan has made 36% of their 3-point shots, while Ohio State has made 35% – so neither team is great in this area – but the team that has a good shooting night shooting the 3’s will definitely have an advantage on Sunday. That is a big key to this game.

The other key to the game is rebounding – Michigan has a tall line-up – especially when 6-8 Duncan Robinson is in the game at guard, but they don’t dominate opponents on the boards. In their two games against Northwestern, they were out-rebounded by Northwestern and also against Ohio State in December – the Buckeyes won that battle 35 to 32.

The other key to the game will be fouls called and free throws shot – Ohio State shot 29 free throws in Columbus compared to just 14 for Michigan.

There is some concern that Kaleb Wesson and Keita Bates-Diop might not be 100% due to injuries (see the article in the Columbus Dispatch by Adam Jardy), so their ability to play, collect fouls and score will be an important key.

Michigan’s Starting Lineup will include:
Number 13 – 6-11 Junior Forward Mo Wagner
Number 4 – 6-7 Freshman Forward Isaiah Livers
Number 1 – 6-6 Junior Guard Charles Matthews
and then, either Number 22 – 6-8 Senior Guard Duncan Robinson,
or Number 3 – 6-Foot Sophomore Guard Zavier Simpson,
and finally, Number 12 – 6-4 Senior Guard Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman

Ohio State’s Starting Lineup will probably be:
Number 34 – 6-9 Freshman Center Kaleb Wesson
Number 33 – 6-7 Junior Power Forward Keita Bates-Diop,
and, then either Number 24 – 6-6 Sophomore Forward Andre Wesson, or Number 15 – 6-2 Senior Shooting Guard Kam Williams,
Number 3 – 6-1 Junior Shooting Guard or Point Guard CJ Jackson,
and finally, Number 1 – 6-4 Senior Jae’Sean Tate, Point Guard or Small Forward
Ohio State is coached by Chris Holtmann, in his first year.
Will the Buckeyes be able to shake off that terrible loss at Penn State, re-ignite the offense, and retrieve that great defensive skill set that allowed the Buckeyes to hold Purdue to 63 points?

Maybe Kam Williams will get more playing time and give the Buckeyes the needed boost on offense, whether he starts or not.

Last December, the Buckeyes let Michigan build a 20-point lead in the first half before coming back based on long periods of no scoring for Michigan. I do not expect those things to happen in Ann Arbor. The Buckeyes must come out strong early and score consistently throughout the game. If the Buckeyes can win at Purdue with that loud crowd, then the Buckeyes can win at Crisler Center on Sunday. Can Coach Holtmann rally the Buckeyes?

This is Dave Horning for HoopsOnLane.com Fan Podcast. Go Bucks! Beat Michigan!!