The Michigan Wolverines and Ohio State Buckeyes meet in the final week of the college football season in what is, year in and year out, an epic meeting of two of the nation’s most decorated football programs.
On Sunday, the basketball teams of these dreaded rivals met, and once again, a top-five ranking was on the line as the Buckeyes held on to beat their arch-rivals, 56-53.
And once again, the win was made extra sweet due to the game’s surrounding circumstances.
The No. 2 Wolverines made the familiar trip to Columbus to put their perfect record on the line against the No. 15 Buckeyes. Yet, after dominating the nation to that point, it looked like the Ohio State faithful in attendance were going to be treated to a letdown on the part of the Wolverines.
Michigan fell behind by as many as 21 points, and it certainly did not look like the Wolverines were ready for this rivalry game — until the two teams came out of the locker rooms at halftime.
The Buckeyes enjoyed a 34-22 lead at the game’s midway point, but only managed to squeeze out 22 points the rest of the way to hang on for the far-closer-than-expected win.
Michigan came within a final bucket after outscoring OSU 31-22 the rest of the way. However, superstar point guard Trey Burke’s three-point attempt literally circled around the entire rim before popping out, forcing he and his teammates to foul Ohio State several times, thus creating the final margin of victory.
Burke finished with 15 points and four assists, but he made only 4-of-13 shots. Fellow Wolverines’ star, Tim Hardaway Jr., also struggled, going 5-for-15 and 1-of-6 from beyond the arc to finish with 12 points.
Deshaun Thomas was the star of the show, outplaying everyone trying to guard him en route to 20 points on 8-of-18 shooting. His efforts were complimented by the team-first efforts of guard Lenzelel Smith Jr., who finished with only four points but with 10 rebounds.
Michigan loses in the same weekend No. 1 and fellow undefeated Duke also suffered their first loss of the season, meaning their shot at earning the nation’s top ranking goes down the drain with their first loss. Their record now stands at 16-1 overall.
Ohio State moves to 13-3 on the year and should improve upon its current No. 15 ranking.