No. 3 Michigan and No. 4 Ohio State meet Sunday in the first top-five basketball showdown between the Big Ten rivals.
Game time is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Value City Arena in Columbus. It’s a battle of potential No. 1 seeds in the 2021 NCAA Tournament.
Ohio State (17-4) swept last year’s matchups, and third-year coach Chris Holtmann is 3-2 against the Wolverines. Michigan (14-1) continues to roll under second-year coach Juwan Howard, who has experience in the rivalry as both player and coach. He’s still looking for that first regular-season win against the Buckeyes.
While the football rivalry between the two schools gets more publicity, those two coaches might vault the basketball rivalry to new heights.
That starts Sunday. Sporting News takes a deeper look at best of the Ohio State-Michigan basketball rivalry heading into the game.
No. 15 Michigan 75, No. 3 Ohio State 71 (March 29, 1992)
Ohio State, led by consensus All-American guard Jim Jackson, was a No. 1 seed in the 1992 NCAA Tournament. The Buckeyes won both regular-season matchups with No. 6 seed Michigan, which was led by the Fab Five. Those teams collided in an Elite Eight classic at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky. Jackson scored 20 points, and Ohio State had a chance to win at the end of regulation before Chris Jent’s base-line jumper missed long. The Wolverines pulled away in overtime behind Chris Webber and Jalen Rose. This remains the most notable chapter of the rivalry between the schools. Howard’s reaction said it all.
No. 5 Ohio State 69, Michigan 68 (March 12, 2010)
The Buckeyes and Wolverines met in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament in 2010, and Michigan needed to make a run for NCAA tournament consideration. Michigan appeared to have the upset in hand after a jumper by Manny Harris with 2.2 seconds left, but Evan Turner took an inbound pass, dribbled just inside half court and buried a buzzer-beater that sent Michigan home. Thad Matta’s reaction says it all.
First ranked matchup
No. 18 Ohio State 91, No. 12 Michigan 85 (Feb. 27, 1971)
In a matchup between two Big Ten heavyweights, Jim Cleamons led the Buckeyes to a victory at Crisler Arena. Ohio State won the Big Ten that season, and Michigan finished second. It was their only matchup that season. Western Kentucky knocked the Buckeyes out of the NCAA Tournament in the Elite Eight.
This marked the first time that both programs were ranked consistently when they played in a rivalry that heated up under coaches John Beilein and Thad Matta. High school teammates Jared Sullinger and Trey Burke were the star players on both sides.
The Wolverines and Buckeyes played seven straight games from 2012 to 2014 in which both teams were ranked.
Michigan had a 4-3 advantage in those games. The Buckeyes reached the Final Four in 2012 and Elite Eight in 2013. Michigan reached the NCAA championship game in 2013 and Elite Eight in 2014.
Those matchups set the standard for the present-day rivalry between Holtmann and Howard.
Ohio State and Michigan have played in two top-10 matchups in school history. The Buckeyes and Wolverines split those two matchups:
No. 7 Ohio State 77, No. 10 Michigan (March 10, 2012)
The Buckeyes and Wolverines split two regular-season matchups, but the Buckeyes ran away with this Big Ten tournament semifinal. Sullinger scored 24 points and Deshaun Thomas added 22 points. The Buckeyes limited Burke to just five points. Ohio State made the Final Four that season. Michigan lost in the first round to Ohio.
No. 3 Michigan 76, No. 10 Ohio State 74 (Feb. 5, 2013)
This would be the best regular-season matchup between the schools. They played an overtime classic at Crisler Arena, and Tim Hardaway Jr. rallied the Wolverines with six 3-pointers and 23 points. Hardaway also blocked Aaron Craft’s shot on the final sequence. This was a memorable victory in Michigan’s season, which ended in a national championship game loss against Louisville.
Top 25 matchups
Michigan and Ohio State have played 15 matchups when both teams are ranked in the AP Top 25. The Buckeyes have an 8-7 advantage in those games. A closer look:
|Feb. 27, 1971||No. 18 Ohio State 91, No. 12 Michigan 85|
|Jan. 16, 1989||No. 6 Michigan 99, No. 16 Ohio State 73|
|Feb. 2, 1992||No. 10 Ohio State 68, No. 15 Michigan 58|
|Mar. 3, 1992||No. 6 Ohio State 77, No. 18 Michigan 66|
|Mar. 29, 1992*||No. 15 Michigan 75, No. 3 Ohio State 71|
|Feb. 9, 2006||No. 19 Ohio State 94, No. 22 Michigan 85|
|Jan. 29, 2012||No. 4 Ohio State 64, No. 20 Michigan 49|
|Feb. 18, 2012||No. 17 Michigan 56, No. 6 Ohio State 51|
|Mar. 10, 2012**||No. 7 Ohio State 77, No. 10 Michigan 55|
|Jan. 13, 2013||No. 15 Ohio State 56, No. 2 Michigan 53|
|Feb. 5, 2013||No. 3 Michigan 76, No. 10 Ohio State 74|
|Feb. 11, 2014||No. 15 Michigan 70, No. 22 Ohio State 60|
|Mar. 15, 2014**||No. 8 Michigan 72, No. 24 Ohio State 69|
|Feb. 18, 2018||No. 22 Michigan 74, No. 8 Ohio State 62|
|Mar. 1, 2020||No. 23 Ohio State 77, No. 19 Michigan 63|
*Denotes Elite Eight matchup
**Denotes Big Ten Tournament matchup
Michigan vs. Ohio State in 2020
The Buckeyes are one of the hottest teams in a loaded Big Ten. E.J. Liddell, Duane Washington and Justice Suenig all average double figures for Ohio State, which has lost just one home game this season.
Michigan returned from an extended pause because of COVID-19 last week, and the Wolverines did not miss a beat in a victory against Wisconsin. Isaiah Livers, Hunter Dickinson and Franz Wagner all average double figures for the Wolverines. Michigan’s lone loss this season came on the road against Minnesota.
That sets up the big-time Big Ten matchup for Sunday.
This game, along with a possible rematch in the Big Ten tournament, will go a long way in determining their seeding in March.