John Beilein's reward for having his formerly No. 1 ranked Michigan Wolverines squad come up just short against new No. 1 Indiana at Assembly Hall in one of the best games of the college season last Saturday is a matchup with the 10th-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes.
Who will finish higher in the Big Ten?
Thus is the life in the Big Ten circa 2013. No time to rest.
The No. 3 Wolverines will look to bounce back from the loss that sent them into second place in the conference, but even at home, Ohio State presents a stiff challenge.
Thad Matta's Buckeyes have not only won four in a row, but they handed these Wolverines their first defeat of the season just 23 days ago in Columbus with a gritty 56-53 victory.
Rematch time. Let's take a look at everything you need to know.
When: Tuesday, Feb. 5 at 9 p.m. ET
Where: Crisler Center, Ann Arbor, Mich.
Live Stream: WatchESPN
Ohio State Injury Report (via USA Today)
None to report
Michigan Injury Report (via USA Today)
F Glenn Robinson III, Disciplinary, Expected to Play
F Jordan Morgan, Ankle, Expected to Play
G Nik Stauskas, Flu, Expected to Play
What They're Saying
The "disciplinary" that you see next to crucial freshman Glenn Robinson III's name above is result from his "punch" on Jordan Hulls on Saturday night.
Give Glenn Robinson III for having 360 degree peripheral vision or a sensing device for even knowing Jordan Hulls was there. Let it go.— Fran Fraschilla (@franfraschilla) February 4, 2013
Judging by the GIF (h/t College Basketball Talk), it looks purely accidental.
Expect Robinson to be on the court on Tuesday night. He scored just eight points last time against the Buckeyes, and his ability to produce early will be key against the ultra-stiff defense this time around.
Ohio State Player to Watch: Sam Thompson
Reason No. 1: He's likely to jump over someone. This is probably his best of the year, but there are many candidates:
Reason No. 2: The Buckeyes need to find a consistent second scorer behind Deshaun Thomas.
The junior All-American has been nearly unstoppable this season. He's averaging 20.0 points per game on 46.7 percent shooting from the field and 40.0 percent shooting from deep. When he gets it going, he is capable of doing his best Marshawn Lynch impression and putting the team on his back.
But that doesn't always happen.
If the Wolverines slow down Thomas, the Buckeyes need a second option of offense. Sometimes that's Lenzelle Smith Jr., but he has been inconsistent. Sometimes it's Aaron Craft, but he's more of a defensive presence. Every once in a while it's LaQuinton Ross, who certainly has loads of raw talent, but he has yet to put it all together.
Last time against Michigan, it was Thompson.
The high-flying, electric wing knocked down four of his eight shots, hit a three and scored nine points.
That's not a flashy stat line, but it doesn't have to be. Thompson, who has scored two total points in the last two games, simply has to serve as a liable offensive threat worth paying attention to in the half-court game.
Michigan Player to Watch: Tim Hardaway Jr.
If Craft once again limits All-American candidate Trey Burke (spoiler alert! More on that in a second), Tim Hardaway Jr. is going to have to take over.
The Wolverines have lots of options, but none of them are as experienced as Hardaway. Stauskas and Robinson are freshmen, and none of the big men can really take a game over on offense.
Hardaway, who is averaging 15.6 points with an effective field-goal percentage of 56.8, can score from anywhere on the court. With Burke taken out of this matchup last month, however, he shot just 5-of-15 from the floor and 1-of-6 from long range.
In this crucial Big Ten battle, it will be time for the veteran junior to step up and prove that he can carry this team on the offensive end if called upon.
Matchup to Watch: Trey Burke vs. Aaron Craft
It's one of the best one-on-one offensive players in the country against the most annoying and effective on-ball defender in America.
It's a dream matchup, and for us lucky fans, we get to see it a second time.
The first time around, Craft won the battle. He bothered Burke into a 4-of-13 shooting night to go with just four assists and four turnovers. Craft had just one steal, but he forced many more mistakes.
Michigan's offense, which ranks No. 3 in America and No. 1 in points per possession, is absolutely reliant on Burke.
When the lightning-quick point guard can penetrate (which he almost always can), he has the ability to either finish in the lane (48.7 field-goal percentage) or find one of Michigan's several deadly shooters (7.2 assists per game; third-best assist-to-turnover ratio in the country).
If Burke can run free, Michigan is unstoppable on offense. When he can't, as Craft showed last month, the Wolverines score a season-low 0.840 points per possession (the only time all year they have been held below 1.00).
Who ya got?
At home, Trey Burke gets his revenge against Craft, and Ohio State doesn't have the weapons to keep up.
Ohio State 60, Michigan 70