#42 Michigan (7-2) at
#61 Ohio State (6-3)
Value City Arena
|WHEN||6:31 pm ET, Monday|
OSU -1 (KenPom)
OSU -2 (Bovada)
PBP: Tim Brando
Analyst: Jim Jackson
Right: You're the Them now. [Patrick Barron]
Michigan gets a two-day turnaround with a road trip to face an Ohio State team also coming off a two-day turnaround with a road trip. The condensed Big Ten schedule with early-December conference games is already impacting the coaches. When asked about Ohio State after the Indiana game, John Beilein said this: "I have no idea what Ohio State's doing. I have no idea."
The good news is Buckeye coach Chris Holtmann, freshly imported from Butler, is probably in the same boat two days after a trip to the Kohl Center. While Michigan essentially cut their rotation to nine players for Saturday's Indiana game, Beilein wouldn't commit to sticking to that group—Jaaron Simmons is still in the mix for minutes and we could see some Ibi Watson if Jordan Poole is a little gassed after essentially doubling his season minute total. Perhaps we'll get more clarity on the rotation tonight; we could also see it expand a bit given the short rest.
Speaking of the Indiana game, I've got a set of gfycats for you to peruse.
THE LINEUP CARD
Projected starters are in bold. Hover over headers for stat explanations. The "Should I Be Mad If He Hits A Three" methodology: we're mad if a guy who's not good at shooting somehow hits one. Yes, you're still allowed to be unhappy if a proven shooter is left open. It's a free country.
|G||15||Kam Williams||Sr.||6'2, 185||49||16||99||No|
|39% career three-point shooter off to slow start. Not a PG.|
|G||2||Musa Jallow||Fr.||6'5, 200||59||13||100||Yes|
|Low usage, good finisher, struggling with outside shot.|
|F||1||Jae'Sean Tate||Sr.||6'4, 230||74||24||103||Yes|
|Power forward stuck in shorter Charles Barkley's body. Good passer.|
|F||33||Keita Bates-Diop||Jr.||6'7, 235||80||23||117||Not At All|
|Doing it all: scoring inside and out, rebounding, blocking shots.|
|C||34||Kaleb Wesson||Fr.||6'9, 270||49||22||128||Very|
|Excellent post scorer, good offensive rebounder, turnover-prone.|
|G||3||CJ Jackson||Jr.||6'1, 175||74||25||101||No|
|Better shooter than finisher. Turnover-prone for PG.|
|G||13||Andrew Dakich||Sr.||6'2, 190||35||14||103||Kinda|
|Seriously. Tiny usage, doesn't shoot often, sky-high turnover rate.|
|F||24||Andre Wesson||So.||6'6, 200||31||21||64||Yes|
|35% three-point shooter last year off to awful start.|
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]
After the disastrous end to the Thad Matta era, Ohio State is mostly starting anew under Chris Holtmann. Starters Marc Loving, JaQuan Lyle, and Trevor Thompson are gone—only Loving had exhausted his eligibility—and a decent chunk of the bench left with them. Unsurprisingly, the Buckeyes got off to an uneven start this year, getting blown out by Gonzaga, losing a late double-digit lead to Butler (Holtmann's former team), and falling at home to Clemson before bouncing back on Saturday with an unexpected shellacking of Wisconsin at the Kohl Center.
There are still a few familiar faces hanging around Columbus. After injury derailed last season, forward Keita Bates-Diop is delivering on the potential that made him a coveted recruit, including by Michigan. Bates-Diop is a deadeye spot-up shooter who can also operate as a screener and post-up option; on the other end, he's a solid shot-blocker and excellent rebounder.
Jae'Sean Tate is maybe the most unusual player in the conference. At 6'4", 230, he's an interior-oriented scorer and rebounder who lacks a refined outside shot. I'd describe him as a plus garbage guy, except on an OSU team looking for a point guard, he's also become one of the team's primary passers—he acted as the starting point against Wisconsin. He's not wildly efficient as a distributor—his assist and turnover rates are nearly level—but OSU doesn't have a lot of options there, as you'll see.
The other main returner is Kam Williams, an undersized two-guard shooting specialist. He's off to a 9-for-27 start from three but he's a career 40% shooter from downtown. He's been splitting time with freshman Musa Jallow, who gives the team more size and the ability to score at the basket; he hasn't found his shot yet this year, though.
Of late, Jallow has been a fixture in the starting lineup, while Williams has gone back-and-forth with point guard CJ Jackson. Jackson is a good shooter and has the athleticism to get to the hoop, but hasn't finished well there and has a turnover rate right up there with his assist rate. The other option at the point is one Andrew Dakich, who's on scholarship for his final year of eligibility. Dakich has a microscopic usage for a point guard, almost never shoots, and turns the ball over on 40% of his possessions. You can bet his former teammates are looking to make plays on him, too.
Up front, 270-pound freshman Kaleb Wesson is going to be another challenge for Moe Wagner in the post. He's grading out in the 87th percentile as a post scorer, per Synergy, and he's drawing a whopping 8.2 fouls per 40 minutes while canning 71% of his free throws. The good news for Michigan is Wesson has a hard time staying out of foul trouble himself and he's the only true big man in the rotation. 6'8", 205-pound freshman Kyle Young will get some time but isn't exactly a post player; with Micah Potter injured, OSU is more likely to go small with Bates-Diop and Tate operating out of the post.
Small sample size caveats apply.
Ohio State hasn't been a very good halfcourt offensive team, so they're going to look to run out in transition, where they can better take advantage of their athleticism. Unfortunately for the Buckeyes, Michigan doesn't cede many transition opportunties, and per Synergy they're grading out as one of the very best transition defenses in the nation (97th percentile). Meanwhile, the Buckeyes could allow Michigan to get out on the run, as they're well into the bottom half of the country in turnover rate.
On defense, the Buckeyes do a solid job defending inside the arc and a great job of clearing the boards, but they're allowing a ton of three-point looks. If Michigan can drive and kick like they did against Indiana, or get out on the run as often, they could put up a big point total.
Slow the post offense. Moe Wagner had a really rough defensive game on Saturday against Juwan Morgan and gets another tough matchup with Kaleb Wesson, the type of skilled large post player who can get Wagner into foul trouble. There's two ways for Michigan to get around this matchup: give Wagner more help and try to force the pass-averse Wesson to make shots over two players and/or attack Wesson enough with Wagner on the other end enough to get the freshman into foul trouble. If Wesson is on the bench, OSU has to go small, and that means Wagner (or Teske) can feast inside while Charles Matthews attacks the rim without fear.
Control the tempo. Ohio State needs to get out in transition to be an efficient offensive team. Michigan makes it really difficult to do that by controlling the pace in the halfcourt, taking great care of the ball, and eschewing offensive rebound attempts to get back on defense. That approach shouldn't change, and it should give Michigan an advantage. Meanwhile, Buckeye turnovers should lead to three-point opportunities for the likes of Duncan Robinson and Jordan Poole; Michigan should look to push the pace on offense when given the opportunity, especially since OSU boasts a stingy interior defense.
Put Dakich on a poster. This is all I ask.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Ohio State by 1.
While I like most of the matchups for Michigan, Bates-Diop is going to be tough to slow down, and Wesson could have a huge game against Wagner if Michigan's interior defense doesn't improve a whole lot from where it was on Sunday. If Wagner can't stay out of foul trouble, a road win will be tough to come by.