C.J. Walker-Ohio State-Ohio State basketball-Buckeyes
C.J. Walker is playing at a high level for Ohio State. (Jeffrey Becker/USA TODAY Sports)

Ohio State Basketball

Buckeyes favored to win top-five rivalry showdown

COLUMBUS — Ohio State has lost once in its last 11 games. Michigan has lost just once all season.

Something has to give.

The No. 4 Buckeyes will clash with the No. 3 Wolverines on Sunday at 1 p.m. inside the Schottenstein Center and on CBS for their lone meeting this regular season, and the stakes are certainly even higher than the typical rivalry bragging rights. Ohio State will enter this massive Big Ten showdown as a 1.5-point favorite, according to the folks at VegasInsider.com.

Michigan currently sits as the top team in the Big Ten, having lost just one conference game all season. Ohio State has won seven-straight games and is among the hottest teams in the country. Both teams are projected to be No. 1 seeds in next month’s NCAA Tournament and have strong cases for it. A win over a top-five team in the rivalry game would cement that resume even further onto the No. 1 seed-line.

Justin Ahrens-Ohio State-Buckeyes-Ohio State basketball

Ohio State has only lost twice since the turn of the calendar. (Joseph Maiorana/USA TODAY Sports)

A win would mean everything for both programs, especially this late in the season.

“When you look at the game right now, being in late February, being where both teams are ranked and only playing once in the regular season, certainly you could look at it and it really builds to this,” Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said. “Now, it is one game and we’ve got three more after that, but I do think that all this around this particular game makes it a fun one for college basketball and a fun one for our fans.”

Ohio State has beaten Michigan in five of their last seven meetings. The Buckeyes are 14-7-1 against the spread this season. They are 8-41 against the spread at home this year. Michigan, meanwhile, is 12-4 against the number this season and 4-1 against the number on the road. The over has hit in 12 of the Buckeyes 22 games this season but only in seven of the Wolverines 16 games.

Both teams are playing as well as any other around the country right now. But only one can earn a huge win in late February.

Continue Reading