Friday in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament, Ohio State (28-3) decided to turn it on a little bit earlier.
The Buckeyes took an 8-6 lead just four minutes into Friday's 72-62 victory and never looked back. Michigan made several runs through the course of the second half but despite getting to within 52-49, never got over the hump.
"Obviously they're very talented, very deep," said Michigan head coach Tommy Amaker in the postgame press conference, "and I think every time in the game we got into position to put some pressure on them, they certainly had an answer."
Ohio State freshman Greg Oden, who was plagued with foul trouble for much of the season finale in Ann Arbor, took control for the Buckeyes. The 7-1 center scored 22 points, grabbed eight rebounds and blocked four shots against Michigan, who elected not to double-team him as they've decide not to do in the previous two meetings.
Michigan had some momentum with a one-and-one with just 17 seconds before halftime, down 32-29. However, DeShawn Sims missed the front end and Ohio State's Mike Conley scored a running floater at the buzzer giving the Buckeyes a five-point lead at half.
For Ohio State, it was a precious lead overcoming a 13-rebound deficit at half, despite just two turnovers offensively.
"Our talk at halftime was rebounding and defense," added OSU head coach Thad Matta. "Rebounding and defense."
On three occasions, the Buckeyes extended a second-half lead to at least 10 points. However, Michigan refused to go away despite 15 turnovers and shooting just 33 percent from the field.
Behind Oden, who was 8-of-12 from the field, Ohio State slowly pulled away late and survived the Michigan spurts.
"I've got to give Michigan some credit," Matta added. "They were relentless on the boards."
It was the debut of new jerseys for Ohio State, who sported a LeBron James logo on their custom-form apparrel.
The new digs are being sported in the postseason by Syracuse, Florida and Ohio State. The idea was made by King James himself.
"For LeBron to take a special interest in our program is amazing," Matta said. "In talking a lot with him this summer and his people, he's a Buckeye."
In addition to the efforts of Oden inside, freshman point guard Conley also was a thorn in Michigan's side. After taking control Saturday late in the game, Conley followed it up with another 13 points and six assists.
Ohio State showed signs of slowly improving heading into the NCAA Tournament.
"I hope the (learning) curve is over," Matta noted. "We're in the postseason. I think the games we played without a doubt have prepared us for these types of situations."
The Buckeyes will await the winner of Purdue and Iowa. That game will begin Saturday at 1:40 PM eastern time on CBS Sports.
While Ohio State is still alive in the Big Ten Tournament, Michigan will learn their fate Sunday for the NCAA Tournament Selection Show.
When senior Dion Harris was asked about likely missing the tournament again in his last season, a disappointed Amaker intervened.
"I don't think it's appropriate to talk about something we haven't been told about," he said. "We don't know we're not in the tournament. No one has told us that."
Senior Lester Abram led Michigan with 13 points. Sophomore point guard Jerret Smith added 12 points and dished out three assists. Harris, who scored 17 points last week, added just 9 points and had five turnovers on 1-of-13 shooting.
Ron Lewis had a quiet 16 points on 5-of-8 shooting for Ohio State. The Buckeyes were crisp offensively, shooting 50 percent from the field and had just five turnovers.