Ohio State moved closer to solidifying a favorable seed in the Big Ten Tournament and — maybe more importantly — completed a regular season sweep of its most-hated rival in a 77-63 win against Michigan on Sunday afternoon. The Buckeyes have now won three in a row and eight of 10 in the series, though this victory was far from expected and all the more sweet for how it represents the resiliency of this year’s team.
Kyle Young was out of the lineup for the second straight game after suffering an ankle injury against Maryland last week, continuing the theme of injury issues playing a big part in Ohio State’s season. Down to just about six players in the rotation, the Buckeyes dug in defensively and were actually the more impressive team in the late stages of the game.
Duane Washington led Ohio State with 20 points and six rebounds, but all five starters scored in double-figures in an offensive performance that showcased the versatility of a three-guard lineup featuring Kaleb Wesson (14 points, 9 rebounds) and Andre Wesson (14 points) down low with Washington, CJ Walker (15 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds) and Luther Muhammed in the backcourt. Kaleb Wesson has been the team’s star and steadying presence for long stretches of his career, but when Washington and the rest of the supporting cast is able to step up and carry the load offensively, it makes Ohio State a much more dangerous NCAA Tournament team.
The win improves Ohio State to 20-9 overall and 10-8 in Big Ten play, locking up the third consecutive 20-win season for Chris Holtmann in Columbus, Ohio, and keeping the Buckeyes in the running for a top-four seed and double bye in the Big Ten Tournament. Ohio State has Illinois and Michigan State left on the schedule, both teams that are currently in the top four of the conference standings heading into the final week of play.
For Michigan, the loss does close the door on any hopes for a top-four seed in the conference tournament but also holds a particular sting for the Wolverines seniors. Xavier Simpson and Jon Teske, both Ohio natives, are going to finish their college careers without a win against Ohio State in Columbus.
Michigan did not shoot the ball well from three, and while it made an impressive charge with a 9-0 run to start the second half, there was no rhythm offensively to mount a comeback when the Buckeyes started pulling away late.