NCAA Basketball Picks: Ohio State vs. Michigan

Darin Zank

Sunday, February 22, 2015 11:57 AM UTC

Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015 11:57 AM UTC

Ohio State is trying to ice down a spot in the upcoming NCAA tournament, while Michigan is just trying to finish the season without embarrassing itself any further. Here's our take on Sunday afternoon's Buckeyes-Wolverines battle in Ann Arbor, with our free NCAAB pick for good measure.

Buckeyes-Wolverines Betting Odds
The posted NCAA basketball odds opened Ohio State at as low as -6 for this game, some as high as -8. As of early Sunday morning most of the college basketball betting market was chalking the Buckeyes at either -7.5 or -8.


Buckeyes-Wolverines: Background
Ohio State started 11-2 this season, playing a weak non-conference schedule. The Buckeyes lost early games to Louisville and North Carolina, and beat a string of teams like Campbell, James Madison, Miami (Ohio) and Wright State. OSU then split its first six Big Ten contests, and looked a little dead. But the Buckeyes then got rolling a bit and won five of their next six games to ensconce themselves within the upper division of the Big Ten. Last time out, though, eight days ago, Ohio State lost at Michigan State 59-56 on a three-pointer with three seconds left in the game. The Buckeyes trailed the Spartans by nine at the half, rallied to tie the game in the final minute, only to lose at the end.

Ohio State only shot 44 percent from the floor that night, while allowing Michigan State to shoot 48 percent.

At 19-7 overall and 8-5 in conference play the Buckeyes are in fifth place in the Big Ten, and appear headed back to the NCAA Tournament for the sixth straight season.

Michigan started just 7-5 through non-conference play this season, with wins over Oregon and Syracuse but losses to, among others, New Jersey Tech and Eastern Michigan. The Wolverines then started 6-3 in Big Ten play, after a victory over Nebraska a month ago. But injuries began to take a toll, and Michigan has lost its last five games in a row, to fall out of contention for anything.

Last time out, Tuesday night, the Wolverines lost at home to Michigan State 80-67, whiffing on the spread as five-point home dogs. Michigan trailed by 13 points early, and never got closer than 10 points after that.

For the game the Wolverines shot just 40 percent from the floor, while allowing the Spartans to shoot a blazing 62 percent.

At 13-13 overall and 6-8 in conference play the Wolverines, barring a run through the Big Ten Tournament, appear as if they're going to miss the Big Dance for the first time in four seasons.


Buckeyes-Wolverines Recent History
Michigan had beaten Ohio State three times in a row, including twice last season, but the Buckeyes won the first meeting between the teams this season back in January 71-52 in Columbus. OSU led that game by 17 points late in the first half, bumped that advantage to 28 early in the second half, allowed the Wolves to get within 14 with about three minutes to go but closed it out from there, securing the cover as a nine-point favorite.

The Buckeyes shot 49 percent from the floor that night, while holding Michigan to just 34 percent shooting. That game played UNDER its total of 129.


Buckeyes-Wolverines By the Numbers
Ohio State is shooting 50 percent from the field this season, which ranks third in the nation, 38 percent from 3-point range and 68 percent from the free-throw line. At the other end of the court the Buckeyes are holding opponents to just 39 percent FG shooting.

Michigan is shooting just 42 percent from the floor, 35 percent from long range but 75 percent from the line, while allowing foes to shoot 45 percent.


Buckeyes-Wolverines Betting Trends
Ohio State is 12-11 on the totals this season, as Buckeyes games have averaged 139 points. But they've played four UNDERS in their last five games, mainly because they've held each of their last five opponents to 60 points or less.

Michigan is 10-13 on the totals, as Wolverines games have averaged 127 points.


Injury Update
Michigan guards Derrick Walton and Caris LeVert, who combined are averaging 26 points and 10 boards per game this season, are both out with various injuries. Their recent absences probably have something to do with the Wolverines' recent losing streak.


Buckeyes-Wolverines Free Pick
Ohio State is still playing to secure an invitation to the Big Dance, while Michigan is just playing out the string. Also, the Buckeyes just defeated the Wolverines rather handily a month ago, and Michigan hasn't gotten any better since then. So we'll go with OSU in this spot, and give the points with your college basketball picks.

Free College Basketball Pick: Ohio State -8 at Bookmaker

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