Michigan vs. Ohio: Game Time, TV Schedule, Spread Info and Predictions

Eric Ball@@BigLeagueEballFeatured ColumnistMarch 13, 2012

PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 20:  D.J. Cooper #5 of the Ohio Bobcats heads for the net as Scotty Hopson #32 of the Tennessee Volunteers defends during the second round of the 2010 NCAA men's basketball tournament on March 20, 2010 at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

It’s another Ohio-Michigan battle, but this time it’s of the non-traditional kind.

The No. 4-seeded Michigan Wolverines (24-9) haven’t played the No. 13-seeded Ohio Bobcats (27-7) since 1971, but that’s about to change when the two meet in the second round in the Midwest region of the 2012 NCAA Tournament.

The Bobcats set a school record for victories and are riding high, winning 8-of-10 MAC games entering the big dance. The Wolverines meanwhile aren’t too far behind in the rugged Big Ten, going 7-3 in their last 10.

Michigan is a team that is reliant on knocking down their three-pointers while Ohio is at its best when star guard DJ Cooper is creating shots off the dribble.

This marks the first time Michigan has made the tournament in back-to-back seasons since 1996, while Ohio has made the dance for the second time in three years.

Where: Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, Tennessee

When: Friday March 16 at 7:20 p.m. EST

Watch: TNT 

Listen: WXTQ 105.5 FM in Athens or online at Ohiobobcats.com and WTKA 1050 AM in Ann Arbor or at mgoblue.com 

Betting Line: Michigan -6

Key Injuries (via Covers):

Ohio- TyQuane Goard, Questionable (Academics)

Michigan-Jon Horford, Out for season (Foot)

Eso Akunne, Out for season (Foot)

What’s at Stake?

After landing a No. 8 seed and winning a tournament game last year, the Wolverines have taken the next step. Beating Ohio is a prerequisite or a once-promising season will end up being considered a disappointment. The standards have been raised in Ann Arbor.

The Bobcats are looking to be the giant-killer once again after beating No. 3 seed Georgetown in 2010. They are not a team that is just happy to be here and are battle-tested after emerging from an underrated MAC conference.

What They’re Saying:

There has already been a bit of trash talk between the two schools and somehow Ohio State is involved.

We all know that OSU-Michigan is one of the biggest rivalries in collegiate sports  and Wolverines coach John Beilein calls the Buckeyes “Ohio”. Well now that they're playing the real Ohio, Beilein attempted to clear up the difference between the two in a recent radio interview on 97.1 The Ticket:

There's Ohio University and then there's just Ohio. And Ohio University is who we're playing on Friday

Naturally, Ohio U coach John Groce (a former OSU assistant) isn’t thrilled with his classification (via The Post):

It is kind of disrespectful, but it is what it is. You can’t control what other people say. You can only control what you’re doing on a daily basis.

That’s how we operate here, and I can assure you that’s how Coach (Thad) Matta operates in Columbus.

Will the Bobcats use this as extra motivation?

Most Important Player to Watch:

DJ Cooper, G

The Bobcats best player averages 14.6 points, 5.7 assists and 2.4 steals. He has averaged 19.2 in his last five as he seems to have raised his game a notch similar to the way he did two years ago when the Bobcats upset Georgetown as a No. 14 seed in ‘10.

The Wolverines have to keep Cooper on the perimeter and force him to take long-range jumpers that are contested. The task of defending him will likely be up to Tim Hardaway Jr. and Trey Burke.

Key Matchup:

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 09: Head coach John Beilein of the Michigan Wolverines gives instructions to his team including Tim Hardaway Jr. #10 and Jordan Morgan #52 against the Minnesota Golden Gophers during the Big Ten Basketball Tournament Quarterfinals
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Tim Hardaway Jr. vs. Nick Kellogg

The Bobcats can’t let the son of a former NBA great get hot. He averages 14.6 points on 42 percent shooting and is the catalyst for making sure the offense is running smoothly.

Kellogg, also the son of an NBA alum (Clark),  has to stay at home to contest all long-range shots while also ensuring he doesn’t get beat off the dribble. This isn’t going to be an easy task but it may be the deciding factor in the game.


The Bobcats are second in the nation, forcing turnovers on 26.7 percent of possessions, and they’re a top 10 team defending the three-point shot as well.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 10:  Tim Hardaway Jr. #10 of the Michigan Wolverines drives against the Ohio State Buckeyes during their Semifinal game of the 2012 Big Ten Men's Basketball Conference Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 10, 2012 in Ind
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The entire Michigan offense is predicated on drilling threes and that can be a death wish in a single-elimination tournament. If the shots aren’t falling the Wolverines are in big trouble. Neither team is particularly tall, but the Bobcats led the MAC in offensive rebounding anyway. Michigan ranked 311th nationally in total rebounding.

I think the game is going to be extremely close at the half before the three-pointers stop falling for Michigan and the Bobcats begin to control the glass as the Wolverines begin to force bad shots.

The Bobcats don’t have as much pressure on their shoulders, have a stronger bench, rebound better and don’t rely on a particular brand of offense.

The Bobcats have been here before and are poised to shock the Big Blue and make them realize who the real Ohio is.

Prediction: Ohio 71, Michigan 64

For your printable NCAA Bracketclick here