Ohio State Basketball: Keys to a big victory over Michigan

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BLOOMINGTON, IN – JANUARY 11: Assistant coach Terry Johnson and Head coach Chris Holtmann of the Ohio State Buckeyes are seen during the first half against the Indiana Hoosier at Assembly Hall on January 11, 2020 in Bloomington, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

The Ohio State basketball team has won the last two Big Ten contests with a convincing victory over Indiana Saturday. How can the Buckeyes keep it rolling against  the Wolverines?

It’s no secret at this point that the Ohio State basketball team has been quite a train wreck since Big Ten play resumed a month ago. Sitting at 4-6 inside the Big Ten, the Buckeyes are currently No. 11 in the Big Ten Standings, but are on a two-game win streak after defeating the Indiana Hoosiers 68-59 on Saturday.

It was their first game since the announcement that D.J. Carton would be taking a leave from the team. Despite that, the Buckeyes had no difficulty taking down the Hoosiers.

Kaleb Wesson led the team with 15 points on 7-of-12 shooting from the field, and Florida State transfer C.J. Walker also added 14 points of his own.

It was a game where Ohio State still struggled at times on offense, shooting just 46 percent from the field, and 37 percent from beyond the arc. But the defense prevailed overall, holding the Hoosiers to 45 percent from the field and winning the battle on the boards 31-24. The combination resulted in a low-scoring victory for the Buckeyes.

Now Ohio State will look ahead to their contest with Michigan later tonight. Ironically, the Buckeyes and Wolverines have had very similar seasons thus far.

Both teams got off to hot starts at the beginning of the season, ranking inside the top five of the AP poll at one point. But since have completely dropped out of the poll, now just hoping to garner a few votes each week.

They both also come in with the exact same conference record at 4-6, and like Ohio State Michigan also comes in on a two-game winning streak. The latest a 69-63 victory over No. 25 Rutgers.

What do the Buckeyes need to do, to continue their winning streak and get closer to .500 inside the Big Ten? Let’s break it down.

Win the rebounding battle

You can say this about almost every game, but it seems even more heightened when you take a look at these two teams. Michigan is averaging 76 points per game, good for No. 39 in the country. The Wolverines are a top 15 team in field goal percentage as well.

The fewer chances they have to convert on offense the better, and controlling the boards will play right into the Buckeye’s favor.

Ohio State averages just under 73 points per game, No. 112 in the country, but have held teams to just 61 points per game which is No. 15 in the country. Ohio State needs this game to be played at a slow pace if they want to win, the less shots the better chances the Buckeyes have at keeping the Wolverines at bay.

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