Michigan (20-10, 8-7 Big Ten) hosts Big Ten Champion Ohio State (26-3, 14-1 Big Ten) today at 4 PM in a final regular season opportunity to earn an NCAA at-large berth. The Wolverines will be playing their final home game, excluding a possible NIT appearance, for seniors Dion Harris, Lester Abram, Courtney Sims and Brent Petway.
While No. 1-ranked Ohio State is riding high from a gutsy 49-48 battle against Wisconsin this past Sunday, the Wolverines are also looking to carry momentum from a 67-56 win at Crisler Arena when Michigan State came to town on Tuesday.
Harris is hoping to duplicate his effort earlier in the week when he scored 24 points. On Feb. 6, Harris scored 14 points on 6-of-11 shooting in his first encounter against the Buckeyes. Harris, Sims and Ekpe Udoh combined on 21-of-35 for 60 percent. It was a warm evening for the Wolverines in the middle of a snow storm outside the Schottenstein Center.
Ohio State escaped for a 76-63 victory despite the Michigan shooting.
Sitting at an elusive No. 48 in the RPI, Michigan could cement a better NCAA Tournament profile by beating the Buckeyes this afternoon. The Wolverines has not been included in Selection Sunday festivities in nine seasons. Getting a bid could get the heat off head coach Tommy Amaker who has not participated in the NCAA Tournament since 2000, when Seton Hall finished 22-10 and made the sweet sixteen.
For the Buckeyes, the chance to end the regular season with 14 consecutive victories would likely give them a No. 1-seed in the tournament for the first time since back-to-back top seeds in 1991 and 1992. The Buckeyes lost to Michigan in the elite eight that season, sending the Wolverines to the Final Four along with the "Fab Five."
Ohio State's "Thad Five," has already won a Big Ten Championship, something the former Michigan legacy never accomplished. However, the Buckeyes would like to hit a high note heading into the Big Ten tournament in Chicago which begins Thursday. Michigan could endanger Ohio State's chances for a 1-seed by helping their own cause.
With victories against Michigan State and Minnesota before that, Michigan is looking for a third straight win. The Wolverines haven't won at least three straight since completing a four-game win streak on Dec. 16 against Northern Illinois.
The game between these two clubs in February gave Ohio State a fourth consecutive win in the series. Ohio State was led that game by freshmen point guard Mike Conley, who scored a career-high 23 points and dished out six assists.
Fellow freshman Greg Oden, a 7-1 center from Indianapolis Lawrence North added 17 points and grabbed seven rebounds in the victory. Oden was named one of six Oscar Robertson finalists earlier this week for National Player of the Year by the USBWA.
While it's the Ohio State freshmen and junior college transfer Othello Hunter grabbing many of the headlines in Columbus, it's the Wolverine seniors hoping to steal the show on Senior Day in Ann Arbor.
Harris has averaged 13.4 points a game in this, his final season of a tumultuous career at Michigan. Michigan has just one other player - Sims, averaging in double-figures. The 6-11 center, who scored a team-high 17 points against Oden in their first meeting, averages 12.1 points and 6.2 rebounds a game for the Wolverines.
Abram is adding 9.7 points and Petway 6.7 points and 5.7 rebounds per game for Michigan, looking for a second victory against a ranked team this season (Indiana).
What: Ohio State (26-3, 14-1) vs. Michigan (20-10, 8-7)
Where: Crisler Arena; Ann Arbor, Mich.
When: Today, 4 PM ET
TV: CBS Sports (Dick Enberg and Dan Bonner)
Series: Ohio State leads 88-70 (Won last four meetings)
PG Jerret Smith (6-3 Soph.) - 4.9 PPG, 3.3 APG
SG Dion Harris (6-5 Sr.) - 13.4 PPG, 3.8 APG
SF Lester Abram (6-6 Sr.) - 9.1 PPG, 3.7 RPG
PF Brent Petway (6-8 Sr.) - 6.7 PPG, 5.7 RPG
C Courtney Sims (6-11 Sr.) - 12.1 PPG, 6.2 RPG
PG Mike Conley (6-1 Fr.) - 10.1 PPG, 6.4 APG
SG Jamar Butler (6-2 Jr.) - 8.7 PPG, 3.7 APG
SF Ron Lewis (6-5 Sr.) - 11.2 PPG, 3.6 RPG
PF Ivan Harris (6-8 Sr.) - 8.6 PPG, 3.4 RPG
C Greg Oden (7-1 Fr.) - 15.3 PPG, 9.5 RPG