After dropping three of the last four games, the Michigan basketball team has the chance to come home and regroup before another tough road trip. Before the Wolverines go on the road to take on conference-leading Purdue and Wisconsin, they have a chance to remain undefeated at home, as they host a woeful Ohio State squad.
With senior guard Brent Darby as the Buckeyes’ only reliable scorer and a potent offensive threat for this year’s team, Ohio State (5-6 Big Ten, 12-10 overall) has been ineffective on the offensive end all season long. Darby is the only Buckeye averaging double digits in conference play with 18.5 points per game, but the last time the two teams met, he was all but shut down by Michigan’s swingman Bernard Robinson. And, despite the poor showing against the Wolverines (7-3, 14-9) earlier this season, Ohio State coach Jim O’Brien still has faith in Darby and knows the value of his senior guard.
“He’s been terrific. He’s come a long way since he first got here.” O’Brien said. “He has the weight of the world on his shoulders this year for our team. And he has kept his attitude in great shape, and he has been a shining star for us.”
The Wolverines put on a lackluster performance Wednesday when they were, in coach Tommy Amaker’s words, “embarrassed” by Indiana in a 63-49 loss. Michigan couldn’t shoot, defend or rebound in the loss, and if it hopes for a different result tomorrow, these are the areas that will have to be improved.
Michigan does have one advantage going into tomorrow’s game, though. The Wolverines are undefeated at home in Big Ten play this season and much of that has to do with the presence of the fans.
“We’ve been very pleased with the support our team has gathered this year,” Amaker said. “There is no question (the crowd) has been a big part help to us.”
Michigan’s 61-50 win over the Buckeyes on Jan. 15, helped legitimized its hot conference start, but it will need another such win if it hopes to legitimize itself as a contender for the conference crown.