Good For Michigan, Bad For Ohio State
* If you're Michigan, you've got to like how three of the four seniors went
out on a high note, even in defeat. Seniors Dion Harris, Courtney Sims and
especially Brent Petway played with a lot of emotion and energy on Saturday in
their last regular season game at Crisler Arena.
* Speaking of Petway, his length and athleticism was tough for Ohio State to
overcome, especially when Greg Oden was on the bench. Petway's ability to "get
up," made it difficult for Oden to block shots and even tougher for Ohio State
to keep him off the glass. Petway was flawless inside of eight feet, scoring 11
points and grabbing eight boards.
* It was a predictable but flat beginning for the Buckeyes Saturday. Much
like UCLA against Washington, Ohio State let down it's guard against a jacked up
basketball team. Sure, Ohio State had little to play for having already clinched
the Big Ten Championship and No. 1-seed in the conference tournament, but with a
No. 1-seed in the big dance hanging in the balance even still, one would think
it would take less than 36 minutes to wake up and smell the coffee. Still,
credit Michigan for playing with such emotion.
* It was a classic case of Dr. Jekkyl and Mr. Hyde for the Wolverines from
their guards. Jerret Smith played one of his best games in many ways, scoring 10
points and dishing out seven assists. The bad? He had six turnovers, many of
which were late in the game. Smith and Harris combined on 10 of Michigan's
13 turnovers Saturday. Harris alone accounted for 19 points and four assists,
but four turnovers were crucial in the Ohio State comeback effort.
* Credit Michigan for staying true to their gameplan for 40 minutes. When
Oden was in the game, Michigan attacked him and tried drawing fouls -
successfully. When he left the floor, Michigan was even more relentless by
taking advantage of matchup issues when Ohio State had Matt Terwilliger
defending Sims or Petway.
* Ohio State's ball movement was lackluster at best in the first half. Not
only did Oden get but four or five touches, the Buckeyes were settling for
* On the other end, especially early in the game, Ohio State's 2-3 zone,
which has been much improved over the last several weeks of the season, was
stale and stagnant. There was little activity along the wings and often, Harris
or other Michigan shooters were given too much freedom to take a shot.
* While freshman David Lighty has been such a lift all season defensively for
the Buckeyes, his offense has been somewhat of a disappointment for Ohio State.
His lack of outside shot and confidence in doing so has made him a
one-dimensional player on the offensive end. However, Lighty remains a key
ingredient to any success in the Big Ten Tournament and NCAA Tournament due not
only to his defensive prowess, but because of fatigue and potential foul
problems with the Buckeye perimeter players.
Good For Ohio State, Bad For Michigan
* Turnovers killed Michigan, who shot a respectable 20-of-44 from the field,
5-of-13 from three-point range and 16-of-22 from the charity stripe. More
important to Ohio State than the fact they only committed eight turnovers in
their own right is that the Buckeyes made Michigan pay for their mistakes.
* Point guard Mike Conley was just 1-of-5 from behind the arc Saturday, below
his season average of 32 percent from three-point range. A testament, however,
to his importance is the sequence where he drained an open three-pointer from
the top of the key to tie the game at 61, and then come up with a steal and
dished to Jamar Butler for a layup giving Ohio State a lead. Conley often scores
at-will off the dribble and a strong case can be made that he, not Oden, is the
* When Michigan was having their way with Ohio State in the first half, it
was Ron Lewis and Othello Hunter that bailed out the Buckeyes. Ohio State
trailed by as much as eight points in the first half and Lewis made two critical
baskets on back-to-back possessions late in the first half, closing Ohio State
to within 31-29. Hunter, on the other hand, also had a lot of damage before
picking up a third first-half foul. Hunter finished the game with eight points
and a pair of rebounds.
* The Oden effect largely dictated the last four minutes for Ohio State.
Defensively he altered a few shots, but more decisively, he scored in
crunch-time for the Buckeyes. A good sign for Ohio State down the stretch is
that Oden is using his right hand for free throws - meaning he's comfortable to
begin utilizing his strong hand at full capacity.
On one hand, Ohio State shot just 4-of-19 from three-point range. Butler and
Daequan Cook were a combined 2-of-15 from the floor. The Buckeyes were
out-rebounded, out-hustled (for much of the game), out-manned (by foul problems)
and looked flat on the road in a somewhat meaningless game for their tournament
resume. That's the bad news for Ohio State.
The good news for the Buckeyes is despite all of that, playing in front of a
pumped-up home crowd against a group of motivated seniors and being down most of
the game against an NCAA Tournament-hungry club, Ohio State still managed to
find a way to win.
Some may say Michigan simply blew the lead. Others may say Ohio State closed
out the game like a No. 1-team should.
Regardless of semantics, Ohio State won another game despite playing less
than perfectly. It's true Ohio State often doesn't play as well as a No.
1-ranked team should play. However, unlike UCLA, Kansas, Wisconsin, North Carolina or Florida, the Buckeyes also have not lost any games they should not
have lost on paper. That's the biggest difference.
As for Michigan, you've got to like the effort they gave this week. Michigan
came up with a key home victory against in-state rival Michigan State and were
within a few sloppy possessions of possibly closing out victory against the top
team in the land. Michigan will be in a holding pattern in the coming weeks
awaiting the future of head coach Tommy Amaker.
Will he stay or will he go?
Moral victories will not cut it any longer for Michigan fans. Despite giving
a great effort against Ohio State, that's the crux of the problem - it's time
The bottom line works for everyone - a win is a win, especially in March.
Sure, Ohio State is very talented. But if there is any better example of
parity in college basketball and how very little a difference there is in
winning and losing, look no further than the last four minutes of the game on
Saturday. One team made plays down the stretch another team made mistakes. It's
a very fine line.