NCAA-Basketball-Odds-and-Picks2014 College Basketball Picks: Michigan @ Ohio State Odds and Predictions – Free College Basketball Picks 2/11/14: A pair of Big Ten rivals will square off Tuesday night when the 15th-ranked Michigan Wolverines (17-6, 9-2 Big Ten) head to Columbus to take on the 22nd-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes (19-5, 6-5 Big Ten). After a 15-0 start, the Buckeyes have struggled a bit to start conference play, but they do enter Tuesday’s matchup riding a three-game winning straight that includes road victories over two ranked opponents. The Wolverines on the other hand have battled through injuries and currently sit tied for first in the Big Ten thanks in large part to an 8-0 start in conference play. Playing at home, the Buckeyes are 4-point favorites.

Despite losing talented center Mitch McGary for the year, Michigan has remained a solid offensive team this season. Shooting guard Nik Stauskas leads the team in scoring with 17.0 points per game and has been deadly from beyond the arc. Sophomore forward Glenn Robinson III and sophomore guard Caris LeVert have stepped up, averaging a combined 25.7 points per game. Overall, the Wolverines are averaging more than 75 points per game, ranking in the top 50 nationally in assists and top 20 in field goal percentage.

The Buckeyes have been winning with defense all season, and heading into Tuesday’s matchup, they rank eighth in the country in points allowed and are averaging more than 8 steals per game. Point guard Aaron Craft leads is a big part of the defense’s success, and in addition to his 2.6 steals per game, he is regarded as one of the best perimeter defenders in the country. On the flip side, OSU has struggled on the offensive end, ranking 164th in scoring and 114th in field goal percentage. LaQuinton Ross and Lenzelle Smith Jr. are the only players currently average double figures.

The Wolverines Win If:

If the Wolverines are going to win the game, Robinson is going to have to have a solid game on the offensive end. With Craft likely checking Stauskas, the Wolverines are going to need someone else to provide some scoring, and Robinson is the most equipped to shoulder the load. The play of freshman point guard Derrick Walton Jr. will also be crucial, and if he can avoid making turnovers against a tough OSU defense, Michigan should be able to get the type of quality looks that will prevent the Buckeyes from getting out in transition. Defensively, the Wolverines need to stop Craft and the other Ohio State guards from penetrating and finding open perimeter shooters. If Michigan forces the Buckeyes into taking contested jumpers on a routine basis, the Wolverines are going to be in great shape.

The Buckeyes Win If:

For the Buckeyes to win the game, they have to control the pace and create a defensive-minded game. Craft keeping Stauskas in check will go a long way to making that happen since the Wolverines have struggled at times to find a reliable No. 2 scorer. Ohio State also needs to use its defense to create easy scores for its modest offense, and pressuring Michigan’s freshman point guard into frequent mistakes is a perfect way to do just that. Offensively, the Buckeyes need big games from their leading scorers Ross and Smith, and a decent shooting game on the part of Craft would tip the scales in favor of OSU.

The Bottom Line:

Although injuries have left Michigan thin up front, a lack of size shouldn’t present many issues against an Ohio State team that has failed to get reliable production from its big men most of the year. This game is going to come down to whether or not Ohio State can find enough offense to support its stingy defense, and the Wolverines’ efficiency on offense is going to make that a tall order for the Buckeyes. Keep in mind that Michigan ranks in the top 20 nationally in field goal percentage while its two primary ball-handlers both average fewer than 2 turnovers per game. As a result, the Buckeyes will likely have to manufacture most of their points in the half court, and even though Michigan will have to do the same, the Wolverines’ superior offense is better equipped to come out on top.

Prediction: Michigan Wolverines (+4) Cover the Spread

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