The No. 4 seeded Michigan Wolverines will face No. 13 Ohio University at 7:20 p.m. (ET) on TNT Friday night.
The Ohio Bobcats are not a team to take lightly if you're a Michigan fan. ESPN analyst Doug Gottlieb has the Bobcats pulling off the upset, and Jay Bilas thinks that it is going to be a tough matchup for the Wolverines.
Ohio University is coming into the NCAA Tournament hot, and a hot team is always a scary one to face. The Bobcats are entering March Madness having won eight of their last nine games, and capped their regular season off with a MAC Championship.
The Bobcats' specialty revolves around the defensive end of the floor. Due to their suffocating defense, the Bobcats have the ability to keep any game they play within reach. They pressure the ball as well as any team, forcing the opponent to turn the ball over an incredible 26.7 percent of the time.
The Wolverines must be wary of this.
The other side of the floor is not as potent. Ohio shoots 33.3 percent from downtown and struggles at the charity stripe (68.1 percent as a team). If Michigan can make Ohio a purely jump-shooting team, they should have a pretty good chance at shutting down this offense.
D.J. Cooper, Ohio's junior point guard, is their best player. This season, he averaged 14.6 points, 5.7 assists and 3.8 rebounds per game. However, he struggled mightily from the field, converting only 34.8 percent of his field goals and 31.1 percent of his three-point attempts.
Michigan's goal: Force Cooper to take difficult shots, and his inefficiency will show.
Another player to keep an eye on for the Bobcats is sharpshooter Nick Kellogg. This season, he shot 42 percent from downtown, and has proven that he can get hot at any time.
For the most part, Ohio enjoyed an easy schedule this season. However, they did give Louisville a scare earlier in the year, losing only by five points.
The Bobcats have two 6'8" players in their starting lineup, thus the Wolverines will be undersized once again. Each Michigan player must make a concerted effort to box his man out, which will limit the amount of second-chance opportunities for Ohio.
Defensively, Michigan must force Ohio into taking tough, contested shots. On the offensive end, the Wolverines cannot afford to turn the ball over in this pressure-filled defense. They must use plenty of off-ball screens to spring shooters free on the perimeter. Also, look for the hi-low ball screen with Trey Burke and Jordan Morgan.
If the Wolverines play their game and take care of the ball, they will find themselves moving onto the Round of 32.
Prediction: Michigan 64 Ohio 56
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