Busting Brackets

Michigan vs. Ohio State: 2021 Big Ten Semifinal game preview, TV schedule

COLUMBUS, OH - FEBRUARY 21: CJ Walker #13 of the Ohio State Buckeyes in action against the Michigan Wolverines at Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio on February 21, 2021. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - FEBRUARY 21: CJ Walker #13 of the Ohio State Buckeyes in action against the Michigan Wolverines at Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio on February 21, 2021. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images) /

TV schedule: Saturday, March 13, 1:00 pm ET. CBS

Arena: Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana

After competitive tilts in the Big Ten quarterfinals, the Michigan Wolverines and Ohio State Buckeyes will clash in a long-awaited rematch in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals on Saturday afternoon.

The Wolverines (20-3) edged past a Maryland squad in what was one of the fiercest and heated showdowns yet this March, in a 79-66 romp for Michigan.  After trailing by as much as 12 (36-24) with four and a half minutes remaining in the first half, the Wolverines ended the opening stanza on a 16-2 run to head into halftime with a two-point lead – and then extended that run to 33-11 to take a 10-point lead with 11 minutes left in the game.

Chaos subsequently ensued, spurred by a verbal altercation between Michigan’s Juwan Howard and Maryland’s Mark Turgeon that led to the typically-laidback Howard being ejected.  For a while, it appeared as if the Terrapins would gain some momentum from the situation, trimming Michigan’s lead to five – but a quick 8-0 run by the Wolverines quickly dashed much of Maryland’s hopes, initiated by an Eli Brooks three-pointer on a Mike Smith assist.

That duo was deadly for Michigan, to say the least.  Smith led the Wolverines in scoring with 18 – all the while breaking the Big Ten Tournament record for assists with 15 while committing zero turnovers.  Brooks scored 16 points, with nine of them coming in the final nine minutes, whereas both Franz Wagner (16) and Chaundee Brown (10) hit double-digits, as well.

Michigan will now meet an Ohio State squad that escaped a furious comeback by Purdue in overtime, 87-78, in the Big Ten quarterfinals.  The Buckeyes (19-8) – now winners of two-straight after finishing the regular season with four-straight losses – appeared primed to coast to victory over the Boilermakers, maintaining a dominant 49-31 lead heading into the intermission, made possible by a blistering 18-point first-half performance from Kyle Young – as well as 13 points from Duane Washington Jr.

But a second-half injury to Young, Purdue’s post play, and a stellar defensive stretch by the Boilermakers that saw the Buckeyes be held scoreless from the floor for over eight minutes as Purdue chipped Ohio State’s lead to single-digits.  Three-straight field goals by Purdue’s Trevion Williams was enough to send the game to overtime – but the heroics of Seth Towns and Washington Jr. were enough to propel Ohio State to an insurmountable lead in the extra period.

Five different Buckeyes reached double-digits in the win, with Washington Jr. finishing with a team-high 20 points.  Young finished with 18 prior to his injury, but the double-figure efforts from EJ Liddell (17, five assists), Seth Towns (11), and CJ Walker (10, seven assists, and four steals) were enough to overcome Purdue and Williams’ 26-point, 14-rebound double-double.

Both teams will now meet for the first time since the highly-anticipated February 21st showdown, which produced, arguably, the best game of the season in a 92-87 victory for Michigan at Ohio State.  Like that tilt, both teams were wildly efficient on the offensive end in their quarterfinal matchups – the Wolverines averaged 1.25 points per possession while the Buckeyes were just slightly worse at 1.23.

That game saw Michigan win from the free-throw line – an area where they were just 7-7 from against Maryland.  Additionally, Hunter Dickinson led the Wolverines in that game with 22 points, leading to Michigan’s 36-34 edge in points in the paint – and they will need him to step up after posting just six points in the win over the Terrapins.  The same goes for Isaiah Livers, as well – the senior scored 12 against the Buckeyes, but was held scoreless by Maryland.

More than likely, this game will come down to inside play – and that could favor the Wolverines.  Both teams finished in double-digits in three-pointers made in their respective quarterfinal games, but the Wolverines enjoyed their greatest success in the paint (38-32) and on second-chance opportunities (15-0) off of offensive rebounds.  Contrarily, the Buckeyes struggled in those areas, being outscored in the paint (30-22) and in second-chance (14-8).

Ohio State’s key to victory is valuing the basketball and not allowing a highly-efficient Michigan offense unearned opportunities.  The Buckeyes turned the ball over just 10 times against Purdue – but were outscored significantly in points off turnovers, 17-3.  This is not an area Michigan thrived much off of in the team’s prior meeting, nor did the Wolverines hold the edge in this category against the Terrapins.

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What may be the most worrisome – and, ultimately, deciding factor in this game – is Ohio State’s tendency to go through long stretches without much, if any, offense.  They showed exactly that in the eight-minute span against Purdue – and that could be deadly against a Michigan squad that went on dominant 16-2, 8-0, and 12-3 runs over different points in the game to shut Maryland down.

Prediction: Michigan 88 – Ohio State 81