2013 College Basketball Picks: Ohio St @ Michigan Vegas Odds and Predictions – Free NCAA Basketball Picks 2/5/2013: The Big Ten is absolutely loaded this season, and four teams are ranked in the top 12 in the latest polls. Two of those teams will go head to head Tuesday night when the 10th-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes (17-4, 7-2 Big Ten) travel to Ann Arbor to face the third-ranked Michigan Wolverines (20-2, 7-2 Big Ten) in one of the most-heated rivalries in college sports. Both teams are currently one-game back in the conference standings, but the loser will be facing a serious uphill battle the rest of the way. The game is also a rematch of a January 13 meeting in Columbus when the Buckeyes handed the Wolverines their first loss of the year. This time around, Michigan will have the crowd on its side, and the Wolverines are 7 ½-point favorites.
For Ohio State, the offense starts and ends with small forward Deshaun Thomas. The junior leads the team in scoring at 20.0 points per game, and his versatile game includes back-to-the-basket moves and a sweet mid-range jumper. That being said, OSU’s second-leading scorer is averaging just 10.5 points per game, and the Buckeyes rank just 81st in the country in scoring overall. On the flip side, this team is loaded with athletic defenders, including point guard Aaron Craft. Craft may be the best perimeter defender in the nation, and the Buckeyes’ stingy team defense has allowed them make up for their one-dimensional offense.
Michigan’s resurgence has been fueled by one of the bets backcourts in the country. Point guard Trey Burke leads the team in scoring and assists, and he has established himself among the frontrunners for the Wooden Award thanks to his clutch shot making and ability to find open looks for his teammates. Two of those teammates are fellow guards Tim Hardaway Jr. and Nik Stauskas, and with the perimeter firepower both provide has helped Michigan rank 16th in scoring and third in field goal percentage. On the flip side, the Wolverines are a bit undersized and inexperienced in the frontcourt, but freshmen Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary have been improving throughout the year, and the smaller, athletic big men fit Michigan’s up-tempo style anyway.
The Buckeyes Win If:
When these two teams met last month, the Buckeyes completely controlled the pace of the game, ultimately winning 56-53. If OSU is going to make it two-for-two against its rival, the Buckeyes have to make the game a low-scoring, defensive-minded battle. Craft in particular will have to make life miserable for Burke just as he did in January when the Michigan star made just four of his 13 shot attempts. Offensively, Thomas will have to have a strong game and get 20-plus point in an efficient manner. The first time around, The Buckeyes used a strong defensive effort and solid showing from Thomas to upset the Wolverines at home. They will need an equally impressive effort from their defense and star player to do the same in Ann Arbor.
The Wolverines Win If:
After letting OSU dictate the tempo in the first meeting, the Wolverines have to flip the script if they want to win the rematch. Burke has to do a better job of beating Craft off the dribble in order to create quality looks for himself and his teammates, and if he gets rolling, the Michigan offense should look like the high-powered machine it has been for most of the year. Defensively, Michigan has to make Thomas work for his points and become an inefficient scorer. If he needs 20-plus shot to reach his scoring average, the Wolverines are going to be in great shape. At the end of the day, Michigan has far more weapons on offense, especially on the perimeter. As long as the Wolverines’ offense is pushing the pace, Thomas and company won’t be able to keep up in a high-scoring game.
The Bottom Line:
Although the Buckeyes did upset the Wolverines in Columbus, the victory has been the exception and not the norm. Ohio State is just 1-4 against ranked opponents this year, including 0-3 on the road. More importantly, Michigan has been better on both ends of the court at home, and that is bad news for an OSU team that has to keep the score low to have a shot at winning. Granted, Craft shut down Burke earlier this year, but Burke is the type of special player that will make adjustments and figure out to be more effective this time around. Plain and simple, the Wolverines had their worst shooting performance of the year in the loss in January, and they still only lost by three. In front of their home crowd, Burke and company will overwhelm Ohio State with their offensive firepower.
Prediction: Michigan Wolverines (-7 ½) Cover the Spread
Ohio St @ Michigan
Line: Michigan -7.5
Total: Over/Under 132.5
Time: 9:00 PM EST on ESPN
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