There are 32 games on Thursday and Friday, one of the most exciting 48-hour segments on the sports calendar.
We won’t be able to get individual previews up for every game, but we’ll cherry pick some of the more compelling matchups during the tournament’s “second” round.
In this post, we preview the Midwest Region’s 4-13 matchup between regular season co-Big Ten champion Michigan and the 13th-seeded MAC tournament champion Ohio Bobcats.
Michigan-Ohio Game Info
- Seeds & Region: #4 Michigan v #13 Ohio in Midwest Region
- Michigan-Ohio Date: Friday, March 16th
- Michigan-Ohio Tip Time: 7:30 ET
- Michigan-Ohio Location: Nashville
- Michigan-Ohio TV: TNT
- Michigan-Ohio Announcers: Ian Eagle and Jim Spanarkel
- Michigan-Ohio Point Spread: Michigan -6
- Tickets: Michigan-Ohio Tickets
- Tickets: All Nashville Sessions
- Tickets: Midwest Regional Tickets in St. Louis
Michigan-Ohio Analysis and Prediction
The matchup to watch in this game is between point guards Trey Burke of Michigan and D.J. Cooper of OU.
The Wolverines need to attack the basket, because the Bobcats are far better defensively against three-pointers than they are against shots inside the arc. For as many threes as Michigan takes, they actually rank eighth in two-point shooting. Obviously Michigan isn’t going to stop shooting three-pointers since that is such a big part of their offense, but they need to be prepared to adjust if shots aren’t falling.
On the other end of the floor, the Bobcats aren’t particularly efficient offensively, and their numbers suggest they won’t be able to take advantage of Michigan’s defensive shortcomings.
Predicted Winner: Michigan
Michigan Wolverines Team Capsule
- Conference: Big Ten
- Record: 24-9 (13-5 conf)
- Last 10 Games: 7-3
- Record vs. Tournament Teams: 7-7
- Wins vs. Tournament Teams: Indiana, Iowa State, Memphis, Michigan State, Ohio State, Purdue, Wisconsin
- Losses vs. Tournament Teams: Duke, Indiana, Michigan State, Ohio State (2), Purdue, Virginia
- Player to Watch: Trey Burke (6’0” G, Fr.) – 14.8 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 4.6 apg
Michigan Bottoms Line:
The Wolverines finished in a three-way tie for the Big Ten title, thanks in large part to the contributions of freshman point guard Trey Burke. He has picked right up where Darius Morris left off a year ago, playing a ton of minutes and running the offense to perfection.
Five other Michigan players score at least seven points per game, with Tim Hardaway Jr. the only other Wolverine in double figures. He has scored 14.6 points per game this season, but he hasn’t shot the ball very well, particularly from long range where he hits just over 28 percent of his attempts. Seniors Zack Novak and Stu Douglass provide important leadership, and Novak has hit over 41 percent from beyond the arc.
The Wolverines rank just outside of the Top 20 in offensive efficiency, as they make 54.2 percent from two-point range and rarely turning the ball over. Michigan’s offense thrives when the Wolverines are connecting from long range, and while they take over 44 percent of their shots from downtown, they make just over 35 percent. Consequently, they don’t get to the line often and don’t grab many offensive boards. Outside of a low opponents’ free throw rate, the defensive numbers aren’t great, but the Wolverines’ style will prove difficult for other teams to prepare for.
Ohio Bobcats Team Capsule
- Conference: MAC
- Record: 27-7 (11-5 conf)
- Last 10 Games: 8-2
- Record vs. Tournament Teams: 2-1
- Wins vs. Tournament Teams: Lamar, UNC-Asheville
- Losses vs. Tournament Teams: Louisville
- Player to Watch: D.J. Cooper (5’11” G, Jr.) – 14.6 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 5.7 apg, 2.4 spg
Ohio Bottoms Line:
The Bobcats finished third in a loaded MAC East, but they knocked off the top two teams in Cleveland to win the MAC Tournament. Ohio ranks in the Top Five in defensive turnover rate and steal percentage, and they have also done a great job at shutting down opposing three-point shooters. Offensively, their numbers don’t jump off the page, but they have been effective on the offensive glass.
The Bobcats have nine players who log at least 11 minutes per game, with five of them scoring at least 8.9 points as well. D.J. Cooper makes this team go, leading the squad in points, assists, and steals and ranking among the nation’s leaders in assist rate and steal percentage. Ohio State transfer Walter Offutt is the team’s other double figure scorer, while Reggie Keely and Ivo Baltic anchor the front line and combine for 18.2 points and 10.2 rebounds. Nick Kellogg, son of former NBA player and current broadcaster Clark, is the team’s top shooter and hits 41.8 percent from three-point range and 90.9 percent from the stripe.
Related: Jump to our Midwest Region Bracket Breakdown
See our other individual game previews and predictions:
- South Region: #4 Indiana v #13 New Mexico State
- South Region: #5 Wichita State v #12 VCU
- South Region: #6 UNLV v #11 Colorado
- South Region: #7 Notre Dame v #10 Xavier
- South Region: #8 Iowa State v #9 Connecticut
- West Region: #4 Louisville v #13 Davidson
- West Region: #5 New Mexico v #12 Long Beach State
- West Region: #6 Murray State v #11 Colorado State
- West Region: #7 Florida v #10 Virginia
- West Region: #8 Memphis v #9 Saint Louis
- East Region: #4 Wisconsin v #13 Montana
- East Region: #5 Vanderbilt v #12 Harvard
- East Region: #6 Cincinnati v #11 Texas
- East Region: #7 Gonzaga v #10 West Virginia
- East Region: #8 Kansas State v #9 Southern Miss
- Midwest Region: #3 Georgetown v #14 Belmont
- Midwest Region: #4 Michigan v #13 Ohio
- Midwest Region: #5 Temple v #12 Cal/USF
- Midwest Region: #6 San Diego State v #11 NC State
- Midwest Region: #7 St. Mary’s v #10 Purdue
- Midwest Region: #8 Creighton v #9 Alabama