The Ohio State men’s basketball team is back on the road to continue Big Ten play this weekend, and it is headed to that school up north.
The No. 6-ranked Buckeyes (22-4, 10-3 Big Ten) will take on No. 17 Michigan (19-7, 9-4 Big Ten) Saturday at the Crisler Center in Ann Arbor, Mich., to close out the teams’ home-and-home regular season series.
OSU handed Michigan a 64-49 loss on Jan. 29 at the Schottenstein Center, but another wide margin of victory seems unlikely considering the team’s recent history, as well as the Buckeyes all-time record in Ann Arbor.
In 2010-11, the Buckeyes won its two regular season games and a Big Ten Tournament game against Michigan by a combined 20 points. OSU won by just four points at the Crisler Center last season, though. The Wolverines also hold a 52-26 advantage against the Buckeyes at their home venue.
Sophomore guard Aaron Craft said he remembers the Buckeyes’ narrow victory in Ann Arbor last season and the Crisler Center is a tough place to play.
“It’s a crazy place to go,” Craft said. “Their fans are into the game just as well as any other place you go. The fans and the student section is right on (top of) you. It’s a good place to play, and it’s going to be exciting.”
OSU coach Thad Matta said the team is used to playing before frenzied audiences and the atmosphere shouldn’t intimidate them.
“These guys have been through 20-some games now, and … as crazy as it will be, we’ve seen it,” Matta said. “We’ve played through it before.”
Recent history aside, both teams need a win Saturday to keep pace in the conference standings.
Michigan State (21-5, 10-3) defeated Wisconsin Friday, 69-55, to move back into a first-place tie in the Big Ten with OSU. The third place Wolverines will look to drag OSU down and advance its own regular season title aspirations.
Craft said he welcomes another game that will impact the conference standings.
“It’s awesome,” he said. “That’s why you play at a big-time program like Ohio State and why you want to play basketball in general. The rest of the games don’t really matter except for this weekend.”
Saturday’s game tips at 9 p.m. and will be broadcast nationally on ESPN.