The Michigan Wolverines can’t beat their heated rival Ohio State Buckeyes on the gridiron so they’re going to it give a go on the hardwood in this top-5 Big Ten tilt with first-place implications at stake. And one team will see its winning streak come to an end. Michigan returned from a three-week COVID-induced hiatus last week and picked up right where it left off winning a pair of games to jump to No. 3 in the national polls. Ohio State has more overall and conference wins, but they’ve also played a half dozen more games. Bookmaker.eu offers a generous welcome bonus (max bonus $1600)
Michigan Wolverines at Ohio State Buckeyes
Date and Time: Sunday, February 21, 2021, 1 p.m. ET
Location: Value City Arena, Columbus, OH
Opening College Basketball Odds: (Live Lines Here)
Michigan at Ohio State TV Coverage: CBS
The rivalry never gets old regardless of the sport. Having both teams positioned at the top of the Big Ten standings and nationally ranked among the top-5 just adds another level to this matchup. Michigan came off its lengthy pause and showed some rust early, but when the dust settled it was another UM victory. The Wolverines followed their win over Wisconsin with a closer than expected, 71-64, takedown of Rutgers on Thursday, their fourth straight triumph. They failed to cover the closing 9-point spread but the Wolverines have nonetheless been a strong play on the line going 12-4 ATS. Thursday’s matchup with Penn State had all the makings of a trap game. But the Buckeyes were having none of that. They rolled to their seventh straight victory, 92-82, covering the 4.5-point line for a fifth straight payout for backers. OSU improved to 18-4 SU and 14-7-1 ATS.
Three weeks off in the middle of a season is harsh, but I guess you can expect anything these days. It took a while for UM to get going against Wisconsin in their first game back. Once they did it was lights out for Bucky. The Wolverines rallied from a 14-point first half deficit and cruised to the 67-59 road win. They got greased up for the showdown with OSU by smothering Rutgers 71-64. Now it’s on to the biggest game of the Big Ten and possibly college basketball season on Sunday. And that’s not lost on the players.
“It’s prime time. You live for these days and these games. It’s going to be a championship-caliber game for sure. You work so hard to play in these games, it’s prime time, it’s gonna be fun,” Mike Smith said. The rivalry game takes on more meaning for the schools since the annual football matchup in the fall was canceled due to COVID-related issues.
What’s made Michigan so successful this season is its deep and diverse roster, which has allowed Juwan Howard to mix things up depending on the flow of a game. “We’re fit to play any kind of style – a fast-paced game, a slow-paced game, a grind-it-out game, whatever. With our depth we have the ability to do so much out there, win in so many different ways,” said leading scorer Hunter Dickinson.
There is one major disadvantage to not having your season paused. Playing more games increases the chance of injury and the Buckeyes are dealing with some ailments. Nothing that’s going to keep players out of Sunday’s game, but worrisome nonetheless. Key reserves Seth Towns and C.J. Walker could be impacted come Sunday. Towns injured his ankle in the win over Penn State, but returned to the game. Walker scored 13 points to lead the comeback over the Nittany Lions despite having three fingers taped together.
There is also something to be said about playing games while the other team is off. OSU did that and did it well winning all six games in the time Michigan was on hiatus. Three of those wins came on the Buckeyes home court where they are 10-1 SU and 7-4 ATS. And just like Michigan the Buckeyes have a deep roster, led by the duo of E.J. Liddell and Duane Washington Jr. Liddell dropped 23 on Penn State and averages 15.5 points while shooting nearly 51 percent from the floor. Washington Jr. adds 14.9 points per game.
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You can throw all the records and stats out the window in this rivalry game. I expected the Wolverines to get off to a slow start after not playing in three weeks, but that didn’t happen, at least not for the entire game. They slipped right back into their rhythm and now that they really have their game legs back I can’t see UM losing this game. They are efficient on both ends of the floor and they aren’t afraid of defending, especially when the offense is in a rut. The odds will reflect a close game, but I like the visitors to continue doing what they do best – win and cover.
College Basketball Score Prediction: Michigan 76, Ohio State 68
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– Phil Simon, Gambling911.com