Michigan vs Ohio State: 3 storylines to watch

Basketball

The No. 22 Michigan Wolverines are set to take on the No. 8 Ohio State Buckeyes in Ann Arbor ?Sunday afternoon.

This game is nothing short of?huge.?

The teams met December 4 for the opening conference game. Michigan blew a 20-point first half lead in Columbus, as the Buckeyes got the 71-62 victory.

It has everything you need out of a college basketball game. A rivalry with conference, NCAA tournament and national implications.

Here are three storylines to watch for.

Keita Bates-Diop looks to continue NPOY campaign

Ohio State has been a big surprise team this year, and a lot of that can be credited to forward and Naismith Player of the Year candidate Keita Bates-Diop.

The junior is averaging 19.6 points (50-percent FG%), 8.8 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.6 blocks per game.

Bates-Diop has had some insanely impressive games, like his 32-point performance against No. 1 Michigan State and his 35-point, 13-rebound, double-double against Illinois.

He finished with 18 points and 9 rebounds in the first matchup between the two teams.

Senior day for the Wolverines

Any senior day for any team is emotional, but this one marks the end of some interesting journeys as Michigan basketball players.

Here?s a look at each.

Austin Hatch

Everyone knows Austin Hatch’s story.

Needless to say, the guy is a fighter.

The bond between Michigan and Hatch is extremely strong. Head Coach John Beilein stayed true on his scholarship offer, even after Hatch didn’t play basketball his last two years of high school after his traumatic incident.

During the ceremony my allergies?might?start acting up.

Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman

It is amazing what Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman has turned into.

From this:

Michigan, Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman

Captured from 247Sports.com

To a pillar of this Michigan team and incredible finisher at the hoop:

MAAR is the lone member of the 2014 recruiting class that is still playing basketball as a Wolverine. Not counting Hatch, he was also the lowest ranked player in that class.

At every point, MAAR has proved doubters wrong, and I don’t see him slowing down any time soon.

Duncan Robinson

From Division 3 Williams College to Division 1 Michigan, Duncan Robinson has gotten buckets. After a bit of a rough stretch this year, the 5th-year senior seems to be picking it up at the perfect time.

While it probably wasn’t his plan to be coming off the bench this year, Robinson is a great fit for the role and can put a ton of points up in a hurry.

Jaaron Simmons

After transferring from Ohio University, Simmons looked like he could be immediately injected into the lineup. But with the early emergence of freshman Eli Brooks, the graduate transfer spent most of his time on the bench.

That is until recently, as Simmons has seemed to have cemented himself as the No. 2 point guard behind Zavier Simpson.

The best days for Jaaron Simmons at Michigan should be ahead of him in this home stretch of the 2017-18 season.

How Michigan has changed since their last contest

The biggest change that the Wolverines have had from their first match up against Ohio State is the starting lineup.

Michigan switched out their starting point guard, from Eli Brooks to Zavier Simpson. Freshman Eli Brooks even fell to the 3rd point guard spot behind grad transfer Jaaron Simmons.

The other starting lineup change was Duncan Robinson getting benched for freshman phenom Isaiah Livers. With this change, the Wolverines brought in a better defender and got much more athletic:

Since Livers is a great 3-point shooter (43.5 percent), Michigan doesn’t lose shooting with Robinson off the floor.

Another big change should be the performances of Moe Wagner, Charles Matthews and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman. Last game against Ohio State, Michigan’s 3 leading scorers combined to be 10 of 32 (31-percent). Michigan should be more locked in, since it?s a home game on senior day, and they have played this Ohio State team before.

This is a great opportunity for the Wolverines to show they’re a great team heading into March. That same thing goes for Ohio State, who?s coming off of a blowout loss on the road at Penn State.

 

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