The Wolverines and the Buckeyes have played each other 129 times in the history of their program. However, this will be the first time that both schools have faced each other while ranked in the top-five in the AP Poll.
This game could very likely be a sneak peek to a potential Final Four matchup. If the season were to end today, both teams would be given a number one seed for the March Madness tournament.
Fixture: Michigan Wolverines vs Ohio State Buckeyes - NCAA Men's Basketball
Date and Time: Sunday, February 21, 1:00 PM ET
Venue: Value City Arena, Columbus, Ohio
Michigan Wolverines Preview
The Michigan Wolverines picked up right where they left off. They won back-to-back games after having to go on a full program pause due to a COVID-19 breakout that lasted three weeks.
In the Wolverines' latest game against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, they pulled off a 71-64 victory, despite struggling offensively. There was a stretch where they went over six minutes without converting on a field goal, but they never lost control of the game.
Here is what head coach Juwan Howard had to say after the win, via Detroit Free Press:
"There was a time when we went through a tough stretch where we didn’t score, but we didn’t stop defending on the other end. And that’s a sign, in my opinion of a team that’s growing, doing whatever they can to compete."
The win advanced the Michigan Wolverines to a 10-1 record in the Big Ten. It is their best start in conference play since the 1976-77 season, via Fox College Hoops.
Key Player - Hunter Dickinson
Hunter Dickinson received his sixth Big Ten Freshman of the Week award on Monday after his recording fourth career double-double, with 11 points and a career-high 15 against the Wisconsin Badgers.
The 7'1" freshman center has been a nightmare for opponents in the post. He is shooting 64.6% from the field and has great court awareness, allowing him to find open teammates on the perimeter if teams try to double.
Dickinson is also an improved free-throw shooter, removing the option for teams to attempt a hack-a-Shaq strategy. Over the last two games, the John Wooden Award nominee has converted 91.7% of his attempts from the charity stripe.
Michigan Wolverines' Predicted Lineup
F Isaiah Livers, C Hunter Dickinson, G Mike Smith, G Eli Brooks, G Franz Wagner
Ohio State Buckeyes Preview
The Ohio State Buckeyes are on a four-game winning streak. They get a majority of their scoring from their upper-classmen players.
CJ Walker, E.J. Liddell, Justice Sueing, and Kyle Young have accounted for 52% of the team's scoring this season.
What separates the Ohio State Buckeyes from the pack this season has been their ability to take care of the basketball. According to APnews.com, the Buckeyes are only turning the ball over on 15.5% of their possessions, the 16th-lowest in Division I.
The Michigan Wolverines are only forcing turnovers from their opponents on 14.9% of their possession, which ranks them 340th.
Key Player - E.J. Liddell
E.J. Liddell does it all for the Ohio State Buckeyes. He leads the team in three statistical categories with 15.5 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game.
The sophomore forward has significantly improved his ability to shoot from behind the arc. He has converted 34.1% of his 44 three this season, a 5.5 percent increase from his freshman year.
Liddell's ability to stretch the floor will force the Michigan Wolverines to stay alert defensively.
Ohio State Buckeyes' Predicted Lineup
F Kyle Young, F Justice Sueing, F Justin Ahrens, F E.J. Liddell, G Duane Washington Jr.
Michigan vs Ohio State Match Prediction
Both the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Michigan Wolverines are genuine contenders for the national championship trophy at the end of the year, so expect a closely contested game.
This game will most likely be decided by who wins the matchup between E.J. Liddell and Hunter Dickinson. Whoever can control the boards and allow their team to play inside out will have the edge.
According to ESPN's Basketball Power Index, the Ohio State Buckeyes have a 53.3% chance of beating the Michigan Wolverines this weekend. The Wolverines have not beaten the Buckeyes at the Value City Arena since 2014.
Where to watch Michigan vs Ohio State
The game will be broadcast live on CBS.