|No. 8 Ohio State visits No. 22 Michigan|
Ohio State and Michigan will play a big game late in the season with Big Ten title implications at stake.
But no, the calendar hasn't fast-forwarded already to November and football season.
It is still mid-February, but it will be the basketball programs at each school that will take center stage for a much-anticipated contest when the No. 8 Buckeyes visit Ann Arbor for a 1 p.m. tip against No. 22 Michigan on Sunday.
Ohio State (22-6, 13-2 Big Ten) is just a half-game behind No. 2 Michigan State in the conference standings, but the Buckeyes limp in a bit following a 79-56 loss at Penn State on Thursday.
Both of Ohio State's league losses have come to Penn State.
Big Ten Player of the Year favorite Keita Bates-Diop (19.6 points per game) was held to just 10 points in a game the Buckeyes want to forget, but opportunity is still knocking for the team.
After Sunday, Ohio State's last two games of the regular season will be at home against Rutgers and on the road against Indiana, two games the Buckeyes will be heavily favored to win.
With that in mind, beating its nemesis on the road appears to be the biggest hurdle left to clear for Ohio State in the pursuit of at least a share of a conference title.
"I think everybody understands our margin for errors," Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said after the Penn State loss. "Pretty small. If they don't, they realize it now."
Michigan (21-7, 10-5) is pretty much out of contention for a regular-season conference title, but there still will be plenty of motivation for the Wolverines for a variety of reasons.
One, it will be the last home game of the season in front of a sold-out crowd, and Michigan wants to send the senior class of Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, Duncan Robinson, Jaaron Simmons and Austin Hatch out with a win in their last home game.
It could also be the last home game for junior Moritz Wagner, who could declare for the NBA Draft following the season.
Two, the Wolverines would like nothing better than to ruin the conference title aspirations of one of their archrivals.
Three, Michigan still is playing to enhance its seeding for the upcoming Big Ten and NCAA tournaments.
Michigan is one game behind Nebraska for fourth place in the league standings, an important benchmark since the top four teams earn double-byes for the conference tournament.
Finally, Michigan wants to avenge a December loss at Ohio State that saw the Wolverines blow a 20-point lead in the first half and lose 71-62.
"Given their record and what they've done, we don't look back and say we blew that one," Michigan coach John Beilein said. "We didn't blow it. They were really good in the second half."
After Ohio State, Michigan finishes the regular season with road games at surging Penn State and at Maryland.