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Posts Tagged ‘Tom Crean’

A fitting end: Michigan 84 – Indiana 80

Sunday, March 9th, 2014

Jordan Morgan - The Victors(

Last night was, without a doubt, Jordan Morgan’s to savor. The lone senior on one of the youngest, hottest teams in the country, was playing his final game in the Crisler Center wearing ‘MICHIGAN’ across his chest.

In his five years in Ann Arbor, Morgan has been a part of a lot of successful teams, but he’s never been a player that turns many heads on the floor. More people have used words like “leader” or “glue guy” to describe the engineer from Detroit than “star”, and many point to his off-the-court accolades before talking about how productive he was on it.

But for one last time, Morgan did his best to make sure that Michigan fans will remember him for what he did while wearing that jersey.

While the Indiana Hoosiers started off hot in the hopes of ruining Morgan’s Senior Night and being the only Big Ten team to not fall to Michigan this season, it was number 52 that kept the Maize and Blue in it. Morgan, who has attempted fewer shots per game than the prior season in each of his four years, made Michigan’s first three buckets of the game.

Indiana would make their first nine attempts and jump out to 10-point lead at one point in the first half, but Morgan simply would not let his team throw in the towel. Sure, the Wolverines had already secured an outright Big Ten title with a win earlier in the week at Illinois, but this game was more than just a win or loss. It was Morgan’s lasting legacy, the final page in his epic novel.

Morgan closed out his career in Crisler in style with 15 points and 10 rebounds (

Morgan closed out his career in Crisler in style with 15 points and 10 rebounds (

So Michigan fought back, rallying behind their captain to cut the lead to six at the half and then quickly charging out to a lead in the second half with the help of Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III, who combined to score 17 of Michigan’s 19 points in the first 5:20 after halftime as the Wolverines jumped ahead 55-50.

After falling behind by 11, Indiana would battle their way back to tie the game with 4:55 to go, but as opposed to last season’s finale when Morgan’s last-second tip rolled off the rim, fate seemed to be on the side of the home team.

Once the game was knotted up at 75 with 1:25 left following the Hoosiers’ 13-2 run, Robinson III caught a Stauskas pass and found himself wide open in the right corner. The sophomore, shooting just a touch better than 27 percent on the year, calmly rose and shot the ball without hesitation. This wasn’t the guy John Beilein would have drawn up to take that shot; after all, Robinson had missed nine of his last 11 threes.

But this one swished through to give Michigan a three-point lead they would not relinquish. A little over a minute later and the Wolverines’ 84-80 win was final, complete with maize and blue confetti and streamers falling from the heavens.

Morgan, who shed a few tears beforehand as he was honored for his contributions to the Michigan program in his seemingly endless five years, would finish his final game a winner and a star with 15 points on just eight shots, 10 rebounds (five of them offensive), two steals, and a block in 29 minutes.

When the Wolverines cut down the nets after the game to celebrate their first Big Ten outright championship in 28 seasons, Morgan was the first to climb the ladder, take a clip, and save one small physical treasure with which to remember his years in Ann Arbor.

What a program outsider may not have realized in watching last night’s game, however, was that Morgan will almost certainly not be the only one gone next year.

Stauskas, the favorite for Big Ten Player of the Year honors, is widely projected to be a first round pick in the NBA Draft later this spring after his breakout season and will likely follow his dreams and make the jump. If that is the case, his last game — 21 points, two rebounds, two assists, and a block — will also be one to cherish despite it seeming so routine at the moment.

Robinson III, who would have been a first-rounder if he had left after last year’s run to the National Championship game, is also thought to have one eye on his future in the NBA, and his 20 points, two rebounds, two assists, steal, and clutch three will not soon be forgotten.

After the game, however, there was no mention of those potential early departures, because, of course, there are more games — and very important ones at that — to play.

Morgan, who will play in his fourth NCAA Tournament later this month, knows this better than anyone else.

“We got more ahead of us, more goals to accomplish, and this is just like the beginning,” he said after the game. “I love playing with these guys, (they are) some of the best teammates, and it’s been an amazing year…so far, so far.”

Three Stars

***Nik Stauskas***
21 points (6-of-13 FG, 1-of-4 3PT, 8-of-9 FT), two assists, two rebounds, one block, one turnover in 35 minutes

**Jordan Morgan**
15 points (7-of-8 FG, 1-of-2 FT), 10 rebounds (five offensive), two steals, one block, two turnovers in 29 minutes

*Glenn Robinson III*
20 points (6-of-13 FG, 1-of-3PT, 2-of-2 FT), two rebounds (one offensive), two assists, one steal, one turnover in 37 minutes

Honorable Mention:
Will Sheehey – 17 points (7-of-12 FG, 2-of-5 3PT, 1-of-2 FT), three rebounds (one offensive), two assists, four turnovers in 34 minutes

Quick Hitters:

 With the win, Michigan has beaten every Big Ten team at least one time for the first time since 1992. At 15-3, the Wolverines also finish Big Ten play with their most conference wins since 1992.

 All of the talk before, during, and after the game has focused on the definite departure of Jordan Morgan and the likely departures of Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III, and rightfully so. But there could be even more adversity than that. Mitch McGary, who has not played since December, will certainly have a big decision to make on whether he returns to school or jumps to the NBA after turning it down as a potential lottery pick last year. At 21 years of age, McGary is old for his class and may be seen as having less “potential” by the NBA if he does return to school, but there is also uncertainty on where, or if, he would be selected because of his injury.

Head coach John Beilein has stated multiple times that he will end his career in Ann Arbor, but two of his assistants, Lavall Jordan and Bacari Alexander, are young up-and-comers and will certainly be getting some calls this upcoming offseason from schools looking for new coaches. Jordan has been masterful in developing guards like Darius Morris, Trey Burke, and Nik Stauskas and just missed out on being hired as the head man at Butler, his alma mater, last offseason.

Final Game Stats
01 Glenn Robinson III* 6-13 1-3 7-8 1 1 2 0 20 2 1 0 1 37
10 Derrick Walton Jr.* 1-4 0-2 2-2 0 0 0 3 4 4 0 0 1 25
11 Nik Stauskas* 6-13 1-4 8-9 0 2 2 1 21 2 1 1 0 35
52 Jordan Morgan* 7-8 0-0 1-2 5 5 10 3 15 0 2 1 2 29
23 Caris LeVert* 5-11 1-2 2-2 1 3 4 3 13 2 0 0 2 38
02 Spike Albrecht 0-2 0-1 4-4 0 0 0 3 4 3 0 0 0 15
15 Jon Horford 1-2 0-0 2-2 3 3 6 2 4 0 0 0 0 11
21 Zak Irvin 1-3 1-3 0-0 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 1 1 10
Totals 27-56 4-15 26-29 11 14 25 16 84 13 6 3 7 200
Indiana 29-49 7-18 15-17 6 20 26 23 80 17 15 3 3 200
Full Stats

Derick’s 3 thoughts: Indiana

Saturday, March 8th, 2014

Michigan-Indiana header2

Michigan’s final regular season game comes against the Indiana Hoosiers on Saturday at the Crisler Center. On paper this game means very little for the Wolverines, who clinched an outright Big Ten championship with a dominating win at Illinois on Tuesday. But finishing the season on a five-game winning streak would put Michigan in prime position to ride a hot streak into postseason play.

Indiana could have put itself in position to steal an NCAA Tournament bid with a winning streak to end the season, but Nebraska beat the Hoosiers in Assembly hall on Wednesday to virtually extinguish their chances to earn an at-large bid. Their only hope at this point is to win the Big Ten Tournament, and Tom Crean’s squad will look to get the momentum going today.

Here are three keys to consider during the final game of the regular season.

Put the Hoosiers in their place: Despite receiving a preseason top-25 ranking, Indiana played dreadful basketball during the majority of the Big Ten season. In fact, Indiana lost to all four of the worst teams in the conference, including an 82-64 waxing at Purdue on Feb. 15.

But on Feb. 2, when Michigan visited Assembly Hall, the Hoosiers put on a shooting clinic, shooting over 61 percent from three-point range. The 63-52 final gave Indiana its third win in a row over Michigan, which lost two close battles with the top-5 Hoosiers in early 2013.

Michigan surrendered a six-point lead with under a minute to play in a heartbreaking senior day-loss to Indiana last season, when a potential share of the Big Ten title slipped from the team’s grasp. This season, the Wolverines must make sure to write a different story.

Yogi Ferrell shot Michigan out of the gym in the last meeting. Can he do it again? (

Yogi Ferrell shot Michigan out of the gym in the last meeting. Can he do it again? (

The outright Big Ten champions boast a much more talented team than Indiana does this season, so Saturday offers the perfect chance to end this losing streak to Indiana. Michigan can put Indiana in its place on the final game of the regular season and avenge not only this season’s loss, but also the one that soured senior day for so many Wolverines in 2013.

Take the drive away from Yogi Ferrell: Michigan fans remember Yogi Ferrell for the unbelievable stroke he demonstrated in the first matchup February. The sophomore guard recorded his best shooting percentages of the season both overall (80 percent) and from beyond the arc (87.5 percent).

The numbers expose Ferrell’s impressive shooting against Michigan as an outlier. In the eight games since the unbelievable performance, the Hoosiers lost all three games in which their starting point guard shot double digit three pointers. Ferrell shot a total of 67 longballs in those games and connected on just 22 of them (32.8 percent).

Ferrell rarely stepped inside the three-point line against the Wolverines, but his real value does come inside the arc. He’s shooting a much higher percentage from short range in his past five games (50 percent), and when he gets to the free throw line he is one of the best shooters in the conference at over 81 percent.

Michigan allowed Ferrell and Iowa’s Roy Devyn Marble to catch fire from three-point range during its first two Big Ten losses, but that doesn’t mean that the Michigan guards should overcommit to Ferrell as a shooter on Saturday. As one of the lowest fouling teams in the country, Michigan neutralizes the youngster’s automatic stroke from the charity stripe. If he struggles to connect on his first few three point attempts, the Wolverine defenders can erase any memory of the 27 points he recorded back in February.

End the senior night woes: The Crisler Center has posed one of the most difficult places for opposing basketball teams to play during the past two seasons. In 2012, Michigan held a perfect home record going into the final game in Ann Arbor, only to fall to an unranked Purdue team during Zack Novak and Stu Douglas’s senior night celebrations.

Last season No. 2 Indiana provided a much more formidable test, but the results were the same as Michigan suffered its only home loss of the season on senior night. This season, Jordan Morgan hopes to reverse that unfortunate trend.

Morgan’s five-year journey as a Michigan Wolverine takes another step closer to the end as he plays his final home game on Saturday. His leadership and willingness to do whatever the team needs made him a strong leader for Beilein throughout the reconstruction of this basketball program.

Michigan lost two tough games in Ann Arbor over the course of the season, so the pressure to polish off a perfect home slate has long since evaporated. If the Wolverines play at a level anywhere near that of their conference-clinching demolition of Illinois Tuesday, senior night should take care of itself and Morgan will walk off the court with career win number 114.

Prediction:  Michigan 80 – Indiana 67

Disassembled: Indiana 63 – Michigan 52

Sunday, February 2nd, 2014

GRIII vs Indiana 2-2-14(Jamie Owens)

Riding a ten-game winning streak, Michigan visited Assembly Hall on Sunday afternoon, a place that hasn’t been kind to the Wolverines over the years. Despite Indiana’s mediocre 13-8 overall record and 3-5 Big Ten record, the Hoosiers played inspired basketball and sent Michigan home in defeat, 63-52.

It was apparent from the start that Michigan was in for a battle as neither team was able to score for the first 2:17. Indiana got on the board first with a Yogi Ferrell three, a sign of things to come. Jordan Morgan put Michigan on the board, but that was the only basket Michigan managed before the first media timeout.

A pair of Nik Stauskas free throws followed by three free throws by Derrick Walton Jr. tied the game at seven, but Indiana responded with a Stanford Robinson three-pointer.

Nik Stauskas was shut down offensively, scoring just six points on six shots (Jamie Owens)

Nik Stauskas was shut down offensively, scoring just six points on six shots (Jamie Owens)

After a nearly three-minute scoring drought by both teams, a Caris LeVert dunk put Michigan back on the board. Zak Irvin and Morgan also added baskets to give Michigan a 13-10 lead. But Ferrell hit another three to tie the game. Walton was again fouled shooting a three and made all three free throws, but yet again Ferrell responded with a three. From there, Michigan wouldn’t lead again. Indiana took a 25-22 lead into halftime.

In the first four minutes of the second half, Michigan brought it back to a tie game at 29, but you can probably guess what happened next. Ferrell answered with a three. Michigan tried to battle back, but would never get closer than three points the rest of the way.

For the game, Michigan shot just 40 percent overall and made just 3-of-13 from downtown while Indiana shot 53.5 percent including a blistering 65 percent in the second half. The Hoosiers also made 8-of-13 from three-point range. Indiana out-rebounded Michigan 31-22.

Walton led Michigan with 13 points, while LeVert added 12 on 5-of-13 shooting. Glenn Robinson III scored a quiet nine and Zak Irvin added seven off the bench. Nik Stauskas was denied the ball all game and frustrated when he did get it. The sophomore finished with just six points on 1-of-6 shooting, missing both of his three-point attempts. It was his lowest scoring game since a Dec. 3 loss to Duke. Jordan Morgan pulled in 10 rebounds to go along with five points.

Ferrell was the catalyst for Indiana’s success, routinely thwarting Michigan runs with timely threes. He finished with 27 points on 8-of-10 shooting and hit 7-of-8 three-point attempts. Noah Vonleh was the only other Hoosier in double figures with 10. He also grabbed 12 rebounds for a double-double. No other player on IU’s team had more than four boards.

The loss drops Michigan into a tie for first with Michigan State at 8-1. Both teams are still two games ahead of Iowa for third. Michigan returns to action on Wednesday when it hosts Nebraska in the Crisler Center at 6:30 p.m. The game will be televised on Big Ten Network.

Final Game Stats
01 Glenn Robinson III* 4-9 0-1 1-2 2 2 4 3 9 0 2 0 0 29
10 Derrick Walton* 3-6 1-2 6-6 0 1 1 3 13 2 3 0 0 34
11 Nik Stauskas* 1-6 0-2 4-4 0 3 3 1 6 1 2 0 0 35
52 Jordan Morgan* 2-3 0-0 1-5 5 5 10 4 5 0 0 2 0 31
23 Caris LeVert* 5-13 1-4 1-1 0 3 3 1 12 3 2 0 2 35
02 Spike Albrecht 0-1 0-1 0-0 0 0 0 1 0 2 0 0 1 11
15 Jon Horford 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 2 0 0 1 0 1 8
21 Zak Irvin 3-6 1-3 0-0 1 0 1 0 7 0 0 0 0 17
Totals 18-45 3-13 13-18 8 14 22 15 52 8 10 2 4 200
Indiana 23-43 8-13 9-15 9 22 31 15 63 6 13 2 5 200
Full Stats

Derick’s 3 thoughts: Indiana

Sunday, February 2nd, 2014

Michigan-Indiana header

When Michigan arrives at Assembly Hall on Sunday afternoon, two teams going in completely different directions will collide. Michigan is riding a 10-game winning streak and sitting atop the Big Ten. The Wolverines climbed back into the top 10 after falling out of the top 25 with a 8-4 record in mid-December.

Indiana enters Sunday having lost five of its last eight games and tied for eighth in the conference. For a team that earned a No.1 seed in last year’s NCAA Tournament, the Hoosiers are surprisingly close to missing the big dance in 2014.

This matchup appears one-sided on paper, but winning streaks can come to an abrupt halt. Indiana handed Wisconsin its first loss of the season after a 16-0 start, and Ohio State has lost five of seven since winning 15 straight to start the season. Michigan will have to keep playing with a sense of urgency to extend the winning streak to 11 Sunday.

1. Play like an underdog: Michigan jumped back in the top 10 by playing highly-ranked teams with a chip on its shoulder. In both Madison and East Lansing, the Maize and Blue came out of the gate firing on all cylinders, showing the intensity of an underdog hungry to prove itself.

Derrick Walton Jr will have his hands full with the one-man show that is Yogi Ferrell (Mike Carter, USA Today Sports)

Derrick Walton Jr will have his hands full with the one-man show that is Yogi Ferrell (Mike Carter, USA Today Sports)

If the Wolverines look at Indiana’s 3-5 conference record and come out of the gate slowly, they risk falling for the trap that swallows so many Big Ten teams in 2014. In the past week, Ohio State lost at home to last-place Penn State, and Northwestern won at Wisconsin and Minnesota. Highly-ranked teams continue to overlook the bottom half of the Big Ten, and it haunts them nearly every time.

Michigan needs to remember the trip to Assembly Hall last season when the Hoosiers knocked John Beilein’s team from the ranks of the unbeaten. Indiana has only two losses at home this season, so Michigan’s ranking counts for very little Sunday afternoon.

2. Get back on defense: Indiana’s offense has struggled at times in 2014 after losing its top four scoring options from last season. Departures of Cody Zeller, Victor Oladipo, Christian Watford and Jordan Hulls left young point guard Yogi Ferrell with nothing more than a young cast of unknown players to work with.

Although Ferrell thrives as the offensive leader, currently atop the Big Ten in points per game, the team is mired in a four-game streak of scoring less than 70 points. Northwestern even held Indiana to a season-low 47 points on January 18.

Indiana clicks on offense when it gets out on the break. The Hoosiers rank fifth in the country in rebounds per game (42.1) and they use that advantage to start the fast break.

Against Michigan State last week, Indiana scored five fast break buckets after Spartan made field goals. Ferrell loves to get the ball in bounds as quickly as possible and get a shot off just a few seconds after giving up a score. If Michigan wants to completely shut down Indiana, it needs to make a concerted effort to force Ferrell into the half court, where his quickness is more manageable.

3. Keep on climbing: Coming off a trip to the Final Four in Atlanta last year, Michigan was ranked No. 7 in the preseason poll. Twelve games later, the Wolverines weren’t even sniffing the top-25 at 8-4, and the goal changed from return to the championship game to make the tournament.

It took ten straight wins to get back in the position Michigan holds going into Sunday, but a win in Assembly Hall would surely speed up the process towards the top. Losses by Kansas, Michigan State and Oklahoma State this weekend will likely drop all three teams below Michigan, should it beat Indiana. The Maize and Blue could also leapfrog Villanova, which was just 13 points ahead in the rankings at the beginning of the week and struggled to outlast a bad Georgetown team on Monday.

Rising to No. 6 would put Michigan at its highest point this season; but more importantly, it would almost ensure a top-three finish in the conference. Incredibly, only three teams have winning Big Ten records. The Wolverines are five games ahead of fourth-place Northwestern in the loss column and, with a win Sunday, would have to finish just 5-4 in the final stretch to lock up the third spot.

Prediction: Assembly Hall has been such a tough venue for Michigan in the recent past. Tom Crean’s Hoosiers protect the home floor proudly, and it has been a nightmare for Beilein to break through in Bloomington.

But this year’s team is different. Michigan has won in the Kohl Center and the Breslin Center, two arenas that don’t often yield Big Ten road wins. If the Wolverines can avoid falling for the Big Ten trap, they have the talent to beat Indiana handily.

The Hoosiers will come out ready to play, but a quietly efficient defensive unit will be too much for the one-man show that is the Indiana offense. Michigan will get win number 11, 76-71.

Michigan hoops preview: Indiana

Saturday, February 1st, 2014

Michigan vs Indiana banner
#10/14 Michigan (16-4, 8-0) vs Indiana (13-8, 3-5)
Sunday, Feb. 2 | Bloomington, Ind. | 1 p.m. EST | CBS
77.2 Points/gm 75.3
(539-,1100) 49.0 Field Goal % 44.7 (524-1,172)
(170-430) 39.5 3-pt FG % 33.0 (107-324)
(296-395) 74.9 Free Throw % 73.5 (427-581)
14.8 FT Made/gm 20.3
33.3 Reb/gm 42.1
15.3 Assists/gm 11.5
9.6 Turnovers/gm 15.5
64.4 Points/gm 66.8
(482-1,114) 43.3 Field Goal % 40.0 (496-1,241)
(109-338) 32.2 3-pt FG % 29.2 (122-418)
31.0 Opp. Reb/gm 31.1
5.8 Steals/gm 6.2
3.1 Blocks/gm 4.5
Individual Leaders
N. Stauskas (18.4), G. Robinson III (13.4) Points/gm Yogi Ferrell (17.3), Noah Vonleh (11.8)
Mitch McGary (8.3), Jon Horford (4.9) Reb/gm Noah Vonleh (9.3), Troy Williams (4.7)


After three straight wins over top ten teams, many wondered how Michigan would respond with a matchup against a struggling team – one that takes more to get excited about. The Wolverines responded with a nine-point win over Purdue, and although the normally frugal ball-handlers turned it over an uncharacteristic 16 times, they shot an astounding 61 percent from the field.

Now, Michigan brings its 10-game winning streak into one of the Big Ten’s toughest venues, Assembly Hall, where Michigan has won just 12 times in 76 attempts all-time. The Hoosiers are struggling and likely headed for the NIT at best, but will be fired up to gain some momentum at home and ruin Michigan’s streak. Can the Wolverines win lucky number 13 in Bloomington? Or will the Hoosiers pull off another upset in a wild conference? Let’s take a look.

The Starters
Minutes Points FG% 3FG% FT% Reb Ast TO Blk Stl
Yogi Ferrell (G) 32.2 17.3 42.3 41.4 84.2 2.9 4.0 2.7 0.0 0.8
Noah Vonleh (F) 25.1 11.8 53.8 55.6 71.7 9.3 0.5 2.2 1.2 1.0
Will Sheehey (F) 28.1 10.2 43.4 25.9 72.2 4.3 1.8 1.8 0.3 0.9
Jeremy Hollowell (F) 20.8 7.2 36.4 25.0 80.8 3.9 1.3 2.1 0.7 0.4
Troy Williams (F) 20.5 6.9 45.3 10.0 66.1 4.7 0.9 1.8 0.5 0.9
The Others
Minutes Points FG% 3FG% FT% Reb Ast TO Blk Stl
Evan Gordon (G) 21.5 6.6 42.5 32.6 82.9 2.6 1.4 1.1 0.2 1.0
Stanford Robinson (G) 14.8 6.2 47.7 20.0 50.0 2.6 0.8 1.1 0.0 0.4
Hanner Mosquera-Perea (F) 8.3 3.1 56.3 00.0 76.9 2.2 0.2 0.9 0.4 0.2
Austin Etherington (F) 10.2 2.3 40.7 30.8 81.8 1.5 0.3 0.5 0.1 0.3


The Schedule
Date Opponent Score
Nov. 8 Chicago State W 100-72
Nov. 12 Long Island W 73-72
Nov. 15 Samford W 105-59
Nov. 17 Stony Brook W 90-74
Nov. 21 Washington* W 102-84
Nov. 22 #18 UConn* L 58-59
Nov. 26 Evansville W 77-46
Dec. 3 at #4 Syracuse# L 52-69
Dec. 7 North Florida W 89-68
Dec. 10 Oakland W 81-54
Dec. 14 Notre Dame^ L 72-79
Dec. 20 Nicholls State W 79-66
Dec. 22 Kennesaw State W 90-66
Dec. 31 at Illinois L 80-83 OT
Jan. 4 #4 Michigan State L 56-73
Jan. 11 at Penn State W 79-76
Jan. 14 #3 Wisconsin W 75-72
Jan. 18 Northwestern L 47-54
Jan. 21 at #3 Michigan State L 66-71
Jan. 26 Illinois W 56-46
Jan. 30 at Nebraska L 55-60
*2K Sports Classic, #Big Ten/ACC Challenge, ^Crossroads Classic

Indiana’s biggest win of the season is looking less and less “big” by the moment. Nearly three weeks ago, the Hoosiers stunned then-unbeaten and third-ranked Wisconsin 75-72, prompting the Assembly Hall crowd to rush the court. Since then, the Badgers have lost four of five, the only win coming against Purdue.

IU’s best non-conference victory was a 102-84 win over Washington in the 2K Sports Classic at Madison Square Garden. Washington currently has the same 13-8 record as the Hoosiers. In the 2K Sports championship game, IU nearly upset 18th-ranked Connecticut, but fell by one.

In Big Ten play, aside from the win over Wisconsin, IU has split with Illinois, dropped both meetings with Michigan State, won at Penn State, and lost at Nebraska. In addition, Northwestern was able to achieve the improbable, coming into Assembly Hall and topping the Hoosiers two weeks ago.

The Series

Michigan trails the all-time series 56-103 including just 12-64 at Assembly Hall. Michigan’s last win in Bloomington was a 72-66 overtime victory on Jan. 7, 2009. The Wolverines have dropped the last four including a 81-73 defeat last season.

Big Ten hoops power rankings: Week 1

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

With Big Ten play underway, it’s time to reveal our first conference power rankings. We wanted to wait until the non-conference slate was finished before starting our power rankings so we could accurately judge each team’s performance through a full non-conference schedule and get a feel for how the conference will shape up. So following the first week of conference action, here are our power rankings.

1. Michigan State (14-1, 3-0)
Last week: Dec. 31 W at Penn State 79-63, Jan. 4 W at Indiana 73-56
This week: Tuesday W vs #3 Ohio State 72-68 OT, Saturday vs Minnesota 2:15pm

Michigan State reestablished itself as the team to beat early in conference play by essentially beating Ohio State twice in one game. After building a 17-point lead and blowing it, the Spartans were able to win it in overtime.

2. Wisconsin (15-0, 2-0)
Last week: Jan. 2 W at Northwestern 76-49, Jan. 5 W vs #22 Iowa 75-71
This week: Wednesday vs #23 Illinois 9pm on BTN

After rolling through the non-conference schedule undefeated, Wisconsin has begun Big Ten play by stomping Northwestern and proving it can play offensive basketball in a comeback win over Iowa.

3. Ohio State (15-1, 2-1)
Last week: Dec. 31 W at Purdue 78-69, Jan. 4 W vs Nebraska 84-53
This week: Jan. 7 L at Michigan State 68-72 OT, Sunday vs #20 Iowa

Ohio State is an extremely athletic team and the hustle of Aaron Craft keeps them in every game (even when down 17 in East Lansing). The overtime loss did little to decrease faith in this team, and Thad Matta’s crew will be right in the thick of the race for a number one seed in March.

4. Michigan (10-4, 2-0)
Last week: Jan. 2 W at Minnesota 63-60, Jan. 5 W vs Northwestern 74-51
This week: Thursday at Nebraska 9pm ESPN2

The Wolverines were disappointing before conference play, losing four games, but have rebounded nicely the last two weeks. A win on the road against Minnesota without Mitch McGary or Glen Robinson in the second half was a good start to the Big Ten season.

5. Iowa (12-3, 1-1)
Last week: Dec. 31 W vs Nebraska 67-57, Jan. 5 L at #4 Wisconsin 71-74
This week: Thursday vs Northwestern 9pm ESPNU, Sunday at #3 Ohio State 1:30pm

Iowa nearly pulled off one of the most difficult things to do in Big Ten basketball by taking Wisconsin to the wire in Madison. Iowa held a double-digit lead in the second half against the Badgers only to lose its second game by less than five points to an undefeated team (Iowa State). The Hawkeyes are third in the country in rebounding and 12th in both points and assists per game.

6. Illinois (13-2, 2-0)
Last week: Dec. 31 W vs Indiana 83-80 OT, Jan. 4 W vs Penn State 75-55
This week: Wednesday at #4 Wisconsin 9pm BTN, Sunday at Northwestern 7:30pm

This team seemingly always begins the season on a hot streak and jumps into the top 25 only to struggle through the conference schedule. So far, Illinois has beaten Penn State and survived Indiana at home in Big Ten play, but a trip to Madison on Wednesday will show us what the team is really made of.

7. Minnesota (12-3, 1-1)
Last week: Jan. 2 L vs Michigan 60-63, Jan. 5 W vs Purdue 82-79
This week: Wednesday at Penn State 7pm BTN, Saturday at #5 Michigan State 2:15pm

Richard Pitino suffered a close loss at the hands of Michigan in his first Big Ten game, but Minnesota bounced back to beat Purdue and move to 12-3 in this young season. For the first time in recent memory Minnesota is playing without Trevor Mbakwe, but Andre and Austin Hollins are picking up the slack as numbers one and two on the team in points.

8. Indiana (10-5, 0-2)
Last week: Dec. 31 L at Illinois 80-83 OT, Jan. 4 L vs #5 Michigan State 56-73
This week: Saturday at Penn State 12pm BTN

Though the Hoosiers already have five losses on the season, four of them are to currently ranked teams and Tom Crean’s team has been competitive in three of them. A heartbreaking overtime loss to Illinois kicked off the conference season for Indiana and carried over into a blowout loss to Michigan State. The talent is there, but this young team has to learn how to win Big Ten games.

9. Purdue (10-5, 0-2)
Last week: Dec. 31 L vs #3 Ohio State 69-78, Jan. 5 L at Minnesota 79-82
This week: Sunday vs Nebraska 12pm BTN

Purdue has had a difficult start to the Big Ten season, playing the undefeated Buckeyes and on the road against Minnesota. Both losses were competitive, but the Boilermakers lack a win better than 10-5 West Virginia.

10. Penn State (9-6, 0-2)
Last week: Dec. 31 L vs #5 Michigan State 63-79, Jan. 4 L at Illinois 55-75
This week: Wednesday vs Minnesota 7pm BTN, Saturday vs Indiana 12pm BTN

The good news for Penn State is Tim Frazier is back; the bad news is it hasn’t really turned into victories. The Nittany Lions have lost their first two conference games by a combined 36 points despite leading Michigan State at halftime.

11. Nebraska (8-6, 0-2)
Last week: Dec. 31 L at #22 Iowa 57-67, Jan. 4 L at #3 Ohio State 53-84
This week: Thursday vs Michigan 9pm ESPN2, Sunday at Purdue 12pm

Losses on the road to Iowa and Ohio State seemed inevitable for Nebraska heading into the Big Ten season, but when the Buckeyes blew this team out by 31, it was clear that the Cornhuskers are nowhere near the top of the Big Ten.

12. Northwestern (7-8, 0-2)
Last week: Jan. 2 L vs #4 Wisconsin 49-76, Jan. 5 L at Michigan 51-74
This week: Thursday at #20 Iowa 9pm ESPNU, Sunday vs #23 Illinois 7:30pm

Chris Collins’ first year in the Big Ten is off to a difficult start. Northwestern is the only team in the conference with a losing record and has lost both Big Ten games by more than 20 points.

Indiana 72 – Michigan 71: Wolverines drop heartbreaker in finale

Monday, March 11th, 2013

Final 1st 2nd Total
#7 Michigan (25-6, 12-6) 33 38 71
#2 Indiana (26-5, 14-4) 30 42 72

Trey Burke couldn't find the late-game magic to beat Indiana (Gregory Shamus, Getty Images)

The Big Ten title hung in the balance as the ball rested on the right edge of the rim. Jordan Morgan had put-back Trey Burke’s miss with just seconds remaining and the orange sphere rolled halfway around the orange metal circle trying to decide whether Michigan should earn a share of the title or Indiana should capture it outright. As the raucous Crisler Center crowd held its collective breath and players from each side looked up from below, the piece of air-filled rubber rotated to the right rather than the left, sending the Hoosiers into jubilation and the Wolverines into heartbreak. The last-ditch effort wasn’t what lost the game for Michigan, but it was a fitting end to a wild regular season.

Michigan had the game in its grasp in the final minute, needing only to convert its free throws to protect a five-point lead with 52 seconds remaining. But Michigan’s two stars, first Tim Hardaway Jr. and then Burke, each missed the front end of a one-and-one, and Indiana’s Cody Zeller scored the final six points of the game to clinch the Hoosiers’ first outright conference title in 20 years.

Michigan came ready to play from the onset, shaking off some early jitters to build a 27-16 lead with 5:07 remaining in the first half. It tied the Hoosiers’ largest deficit of the season. But Victor Oladipo stole the ball from Burke and made a layup that ignited a 14-6 Indiana run to close the half. Michigan led 33-30 at the break.

In the second half, the teams battled evenly throughout with Michigan leading by as many as six and Indiana leading by as many as four, neither able to pull away.

With the game tied at 66 and just under two minutes remaining, Michigan looked as if it was going to pull out the win. Morgan put back a missed shot, and after a Yogi Ferrell turnover, Hardaway made a runner to put Michigan ahead by four. Zeller was called for a travel and Indiana was forced to foul, sending Glenn Robinson III to the line where he made one of two to give Michigan a 71-66 lead. But that was the end of the scoring for Michigan as it let Zeller score six straight.

Burke finished what will likely be his final home game with 20 points on 7-of-20 shooting. Robinson scored 13, Nik Stauskas 12, and Hardaway 11, while Morgan had an efficient eight points and eight rebounds.

It was Michigan’s first home loss of the season and only its second in the last two years, and it denied the Wolverines a share of a second straight Big Ten title. More-so, the loss dropped Michigan to the fifth-seed in this week’s Big Ten Tournament, meaning the Wolverines will play Penn State on Thursday instead of getting a first round bye. The game will be played in Chicago at approximately 2:30pm EST.

Final Game Stats
01 Glenn Robinson III* 5-7 1-2 2-4 1 4 5 0 13 1 0 1 1 37
52 Jordan Morgan* 4-9 0-0 0-0 6 2 8 3 8 0 0 0 0 24
03 Trey Burke* 7-20 5-8 1-3 1 2 3 2 20 4 4 1 3 36
10 Tim Hardaway Jr.* 5-12 1-6 0-2 0 2 2 2 11 2 1 1 0 36
11 Nik Stauskas* 4-9 2-4 2-2 0 3 3 0 12 0 0 0 1 34
02 Spike Albrecht 1-2 1-1 0-0 0 1 1 2 3 2 0 0 0 9
04 Mitch McGary 1-5 0-0 0-0 2 0 2 4 2 1 0 2 0 8
13 Matt Vogrich 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 5
15 Jon Horford 0-0 0-0 2-2 0 1 1 0 2 0 1 2 0 6
22 Blake McLimans 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1
23 Caris LeVert 0-1 0-1 0-0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 3
44 Max Bielfeldt 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1
Totals 27-65 10-22 7-13 12 18 30 16 71 10 6 7 5 200
Indiana 30-70 7-16 5-9 24 29 53 18 72 12 14 2 2 200

Michigan vs Indiana preview

Sunday, March 10th, 2013

#7 Michigan vs #2 Indiana
Sunday, Mar. 10 | 4pm ET | CBS
25-5 (12-5) Record 25-5 (13-4)
Slippery Rock 100-62
IUPUI 91-54
Cleveland State 77-47
Pittsburgh 67-62
Kansas State 71-57
NC State 79-72
Bradley 74-66
W. Michigan 73-41
Arkansas 80-67
Binghamton 67-39
West Virginia 81-66
E. Michigan 93-54
C. Michigan 88-73
Northwestern 94-66
Iowa 95-67
Nebraska 62-47
#9 Minnesota 83-75
Purdue 68-53
Illinois 74-60
Northwestern 68-46
#10 Ohio State 76-74 OT
Penn State 79-71
Illinois 71-58
#9 Michigan State 58-57
Purdue 80-75
Wins Bryant 97-54
N. Dakota State 87-61
Sam Houston St. 99-45
Georgia 66-53
Georgetown 82-72 OT
Ball State 101-53
#14 N. Carolina 83-59
Coppin State 87-51
C. Connecticut St. 100-69
Mount St. Mary’s 93-54
Florida Atlantic 88-52
Jacksonville 93-59
Iowa 69-65
Penn State 74-51
#8 Minnesota 88-81
Northwestern 67-59
Penn State 72-49
#13 Michigan State 75-70
Purdue 97-60
#1 Michigan 81-73
#10 Ohio State 81-68
Nebraska 76-47
Purdue 83-55
#4 Michigan State 72-68
Iowa 73-60
#15 Ohio State 56-53
#3 Indiana 73-81
Wisconsin 62-65 OT
#8 Michigan State 52-75
Penn State 78-84
Losses Butler 86-88 OT
Wisconsin 59-64
Illinois 72-74
Minnesota 73-77
#14 Ohio State 58-67
75.6 Points Per Game 81.1
62.3 Scoring Defense 61.9
844-for-1,723 (49.0%) Field Goal % 809-for-1,649 (49.1%)
704-for-1,686 (41.8%) Def. Field Goal % 675-for-1,745 (38.7%)
228-for-592 (38.5%) 3-point % 224-for-536 (41.8%)
198-for-608 (32.6%) Def. 3-point % 171-for-573 (29.8%)
351-for-494 (71.1%) Free Throw % 590-for-792 (74.5%)
11.7 FT Made/Game 19.7
35.2 Rebounds Per Game 38.4
31.3 Opp. Reb. Per Game 30.9
14.6 Assists Per Game 14.7
9.4 Turnovers Per Game 12.9
6.0 Steals Per Game 7.6
2.5 Blocks Per Game 3.8
G – Trey Burke (19.1)
G – Tim Hardaway Jr. (14.9)
Leading Scorer C – Cody Zeller (16.5)
G – Victor Oladipo (13.7)
F – Glenn Robinson III (5.5)
F – Mitch McGary (5.4)
Leading Rebounder C – Cody Zeller (8.0)
F – Christian Watford (6.4)

This is it. The entire regular season boils down to one game. While Ohio State and Michigan State face off with Illinois and Northwestern, respectively, for conference tournament seeding placement, the one game that really matters is when Indiana invades Ann Arbor at 4pm EST.

Ohio State and Michigan State both find themselves in the awkward position of rooting for Michigan to upset the Hoosiers, since all four teams can claim a share of the Big Ten title if that happens. Indiana is the only team that can win the conference outright with a victory this afternoon.

Michigan hasn’t lost yet this season inside the friendly confines of the Crisler Center and has lost there only once in the past two seasons – the season finale against Purdue a year ago.

Today is Senior Day which will honor Matt Vogrich, Josh Bartelstein, Eso Akunne, and Corey Person for their contributions to the program. The Hoosiers lost their own senior night on Tuesday and will be looking to spoil Michigan’s.

The other major storyline in this game is it very well could be a battle for conference player of the year between Trey Burke and Victor Oladipo. Burke’s numbers have been more impressive, especially down the stretch, but many of the media have fallen in love with Oladipo thanks to Dick Vitale comparing him to Michael Jordan. Today’s game could very well be the deciding factor for many voters, fair or not.

When the two teams met a little over a month ago in Bloomington, Michigan held its own despite digging itself a big hole early on. Indiana jumped out to a 26-11 lead before Michigan battled back to a 36-32 halftime deficit. The Wolverines tied it up at 40 early in the second half, but Indiana was able to get to the line and convert 22-of-25 times to seal the 81-73 victory. That leads to the three keys to success for Michigan today:

1. Keep Indiana off the line. The Hoosiers lead the Big Ten with 590 free throws made and 792 attempted. In fact, the 590 made are more than six Big Ten teams have even attempted all season, including Michigan. That is no doubt a major key to their success, especially since they shoot nearly 75 percent as a team.

2. Step up the defense. Michigan rose to the occasion against Michigan State last Sunday, holding the Spartans to just 57 points and dominating the paint. That was in contrast to the Wolverines’ defensive performance against Penn State and even Purdue on Wednesday. In order to beat Indiana today, it will require a similar effort. In Indiana’s four Big Ten losses, the Hoosiers have scored an average of 65.5 points, which is 15 below their season average. If Michigan can hold IU under 70 points, the Wolverines should win.

3. Feed the post. It’s no secret that Michigan’s strength is not its big men. But Jordan Morgan and Mitch McGary are talented enough to finish on the inside when the guards put them in position to do so and Glenn Robinson III can be lethal on back cuts and alley-oops. If Michigan can take it right to Cody Zeller and Christian Watford early on and try to get them into foul trouble, it will go a long way towards winning the game.

Michigan should be able to ride the home confidence, crowd, and officiating to keep pace with Indiana. Expect the game to come down to the wire with Burke willing the Wolverines to a win to clinch a share of the Big Ten title and a player of the year award in what should be his final home game. Prediction: Michigan 77 – Indiana 72

Indiana 81 – Michigan 73: #1 Wolverines stumble in Bloomington

Sunday, February 3rd, 2013

Final 1st 2nd Total
#1 Michigan (20-2, 7-2) 32 41 73
#3 Indiana (20-2, 8-1) 36 45 81

Trey Burke held his own, but seemingly tried to do too much at times (Andy Lyons, Getty Images)

Winning on the road in the Big Ten is always a tough proposition and it’s even more so when facing third-ranked Indiana in Assembly Hall in a nationally televised primetime game. Michigan found that out on Saturday night with a 81-73 loss to the Hoosiers.

Michigan won the tip and Nik Stauskas drove the lane, took a hard hit as he missed the layup and Indiana recovered. As Indiana crossed midcourt, the ball went loose and in the hustle to regain it, Jon Horford was whistled for a foul. And so the game went. Indiana star Cody Zeller got the scoring started with a pair of free throws and the Hoosiers would get there often, making 22-of-25 for the game.

Michigan took the lead on a Trey Burke three, but Indiana’s Victor Oladipo answered with a three of his own. From there, Indiana went on a 15-4 run to open up a 20-7 lead before Tim Hardaway Jr. scored a piar of buckets. From that point, Michigan outscored the Hoosiers 25-16, punctuated by a step-back three by Burke just before the buzzer to cut the deficit to four.

To start the second half, Hardaway and Zeller traded buckets and Burke nailed a three to pull Michigan within one. Zeller answered with a dunk, but Stauskas was fouled on a three-point attempt and made all three free throws to tie the game. However, Michigan was unable to capitalize on the momentum, as Indiana scored 11 straight to grab a 51-40 lead with just over 14 minutes to play.

Michigan went to work again, chipping away at the Hoosier lead, cutting it to four by the under-12 timeout. A Horford layup pulled Michigan within two and the teams played evenly for the next four minutes.

With just under four minutes to play, and Michigan down four, Oladipo drove the lane and was tied up by Hardaway. The officials whistled Hardaway for the foul, but inexplicably gave Oliadipo credit for the basket despite the fact that he took two-and-a-half steps after the tie-up before he laid in the basket. He converted the three-point play to widen the IU lead to seven.

Michigan was forced to chuck up threes and send the Hoosiers to the line in the closing minutes and Indiana escaped with the eight-point victory.

Michigan shot 42.9 percent from the field and 30.4 percent from three-point range, while Indiana shot a blistering 52 percent from the field and 38.9 percent from downtown. IU out-rebounded Michigan 38-29, but the game was won on the free throw line where the Hoosiers made 22 compared to Michigan’s six.

Apparently this is a shooting foul in Bloomington

Burke led all scorers with 25 points on 24 shots, while Hardaway had a much more efficient 18 points. Burke also dished out eight assists. Stauskas and Mitch McGary each chipped in 10, though Stauskas struggled with his shot all game, much like he did in Columbus a couple weeks ago. Glenn Robinson was held to just two points on 1-of-6 shooting and looked completely overmatched at times. We may never know for sure, but it seemed like something was off with him.

All five Hoosiers scored in double figures, led by Zeller’s 19 points and 10 boards. Oladipo scored 15, while Christian Watford also had a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds.

Michigan falls a game behind Indiana in the Big Ten standings and will lose the No. 1 national ranking. But let’s not forget – the Wolverines were without Jordan Morgan (he did play two minutes) who was still recovering from an ankle injury he suffered in the previous game. His inside presence was severely missed, as Zeller was able to get several put-back dunks with no body to block him out. Horford and McGary filled in pretty well, but Morgan’s experience was certainly missed.

The Wolverines return home on Tuesday for a must-win battle with Ohio State. Everybody remembers the previous meeting when Michigan fell behind big in the first half and battled back only to fall by three. A loss on Tuesday would put the Big Ten title in jeopardy and give the Buckeyes yet another win over the Maize and Blue. From there, Michigan travels to Wisconsin and Michigan State to complete an early February gauntlet.

Final Game Stats
01 Glenn Robinson III* 1-6 0-0 0-0 2 2 4 1 2 1 1 0 0 40
15 Jon Horford* 2-3 0-0 0-0 1 2 3 2 4 0 2 2 0 10
03 Trey Burke* 9-24 4-12 3-4 2 3 5 4 25 8 3 0 2 38
10 Tim Hardaway Jr.* 8-16 2-5 0-0 0 1 1 4 18 0 2 0 0 34
11 Nik Stauskas* 3-10 1-5 3-3 1 0 1 2 10 2 0 0 0 34
02 Spike Albrecht 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4
04 Mitch McGary 5-7 0-0 0-0 3 4 7 4 10 1 0 1 2 28
23 Caris LeVert 2-4 0-1 0-0 0 1 1 2 4 1 0 0 1 10
52 Jordan Morgan 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2
Totals 30-70 7-23 6-7 12 17 29 19 73 13 8 3 5 200
Indiana 26-50 7-18 22-25 9 29 38 14 81 13 16 5 6 200

Michigan at Indiana quick thoughts

Saturday, February 2nd, 2013

#1 Michigan vs #3 Indiana
Saturday, Feb. 2 | 9pm ET | ESPN
20-1 (7-1) Record 19-2 (7-1)
Slippery Rock 100-62
IUPUI 91-54
Cleveland State 77-47
Pittsburgh 67-62
Kansas State 71-57
NC State 79-72
Bradley 74-66
W. Michigan 73-41
Arkansas 80-67
Binghamton 67-39
West Virginia 81-66
E. Michigan 93-54
C. Michigan 88-73
Northwestern 94-66
Iowa 95-67
Nebraska 62-47
#9 Minnesota 83-75
Purdue 68-53
Illinois 74-60
Northwestern 68-46
Wins Bryant 97-54
N. Dakota State 87-61
Sam Houston St. 99-45
Georgia 66-53
Georgetown 82-72 OT
Ball State 101-53
#14 N. Carolina 83-59
Coppin State 87-51
C. Connecticut St. 100-69
Mt. St. Mary’s 93-54
Florida Atlantic 88-52
Jacksonville 93-59
Iowa 69-65
Penn State 74-51
#8 Minnesota 88-81
Northwestern 67-59
Penn State 72-49
#13 Michigan St. 75-70
Purdue 97-60
#15 Ohio State 56-53 Losses Butler 86-88 OT
Wisconsin 59-64
78.0 Points Per Game 84.0
58.6 Scoring Defense 60.4
609-for-1,195 (51.0%) Field Goal % 589-for-1,178 (50.0%)
473-for-1,175 (40.3%) Def. Field Goal % 457-for-1,222 (37.4%)
172-for-422 (40.8%) 3-point % 160-for-378 (42.3%)
133-for-433 (30.7%) Def. 3-point % 133-for-430 (30.9%)
248-for-352 (70.5%) Free Throw % 425-for-578 (73.5%)
11.8 FT Made/Game 20.2
36.7 Rebounds Per Game 40.3
29.2 Opp. Reb. Per Game 30.0
15.5 Assists Per Game 16.0
9.4 Turnovers Per Game 13.3
5.6 Steals Per Game 8.0
2.9 Blocks Per Game 3.5
G – Trey Burke (17.9)
G – Tim Hardaway Jr. (15.5)
Leading Scorer F – Cody Zeller (16.1)
G – Victor Oladipo (14.0)
F – Mitch McGary (6.0)
F – Glenn Robinson III (5.8)
Leading Rebounder F – Cody Zeller (8.0)
F – Christian Watford (6.5)

Entering this 2012-13 college basketball season, Michigan and Indiana were almost universally considered to be top-five teams in the country. They have yet to disappoint. With just three losses between them, the Wolverines and Hoosiers look like not only the class of the conference, but also contenders on the national stage.

Tonight (9pm on ESPN), a game that has been circled on both teams’ schedules since they came out finally arrives. The one-loss Wolverines, led by All-American point guard Trey Burke and a trio of double-digit scoring sidekicks, make the trip to Bloomington in what is sure to be one of the loudest games in the history of college basketball to face off against the two-loss Hoosiers, led by All-American center Cody Zeller and surprise player of the year Victor Oladipo. Here are three keys to the game for Michigan:

1. Limit the Scoring Bursts: The quintessential strength of both of these teams is no secret – they both score points seemingly at will and have been simply rolling through the majority of their schedules. Michigan and Indiana combine to average 162 points and shoot 51 percent and 50 percent, respectively, from the field. They also both shoot better than 40 percent from downtown as a team and boast five players apiece that knock down threes on more than 37 percent of their attempts. Points will be had.

Neither of these teams is particularly bad on defense, both ranking in the top 60 or so in defensive efficiency, but I don’t foresee this being a defensive struggle by any means. When points are being scored so often, however, runs are bound to happen at some point. The number one key for Michigan in this game will be to limit Indiana’s outbursts on offense. If the Hoosiers are consistently reeling off runs of six to eight points, Michigan is in serious trouble. The crowd could play a huge factor in this game, and especially so if Indiana can get a little distance early on.

The Wolverines were able to fight back from a 20-plus point deficit at Ohio State a couple weeks back before falling apart at the end; that will not be the case tonight. A double-digit lead in the first half for Indiana spells doom for the Maize and Blue. One way to prevent this from happening is to limit turnovers, which Michigan has done admirably well, turning it over only nine times per game and only twice in their win over Northwestern on Wednesday. Oladipo is a dynamic and athletic defender averaging 2.5 steals a night that will get his hands in passing lanes in the hopes of having one or two of those game-changing fast-break dunks. The Wolverines need to be cognizant of his location at all times and make smart passes. A bad shot or even a shot clock violation are much better outcomes than handing two points the other way.

2. Take Advantage of Individual Matchups: Usually this would be a key for Indiana, who possess a 6’9″ power forward making nearly 48 percent of his shots from downtown in Christian Watford and a center who runs the floor and gets to the line at an outstanding rate in Zeller, but Michigan actually might pose the greater matchup problems for the Hoosiers with their backcourt. Glenn Robinson III will be at a decent height disadvantage against Watford, but he is used to playing on the perimeter and he has the quickness and athleticism to stick with him.

Without Jordan Morgan, will Michigan be able to handle Cody Zeller inside? (Michael Conroy, AP)

Jon Horford and Mitch McGary will likely be tasked with holding down Zeller as Jordan Morgan seems doubtful for tonight, and certainly Zeller is an outstanding college player, but those two bigs have the strength and size to at least match up with him; so long as they stay out of foul trouble, Horford and McGary should be okay on defense.

In the backcourt, it’s going to be Tom Crean who looks to have some problems on his hands. Yogi Ferrell, Jordan Hulls, and Oladipo go 6’0″ (more like 5’10″), 6’0″ (probably closer to 5’11″), and 6’5″ at the guard spots for the Cream and Crimson. Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway, Jr., and Nik Stauskas go 6’0″, 6’6″, and 6’6″ for Michigan. Furthermore, Jordan Hulls notably struggles guarding quicker and more athletic guards, of which you won’t find many better than Burke. Some pundits question whether Crean will put Oladipo, his best one-on-one cover man, on Burke to try to cut the head off the beast, but that would leave two sub-6’0″ers trying to guard two 6’6″ers that shoot better than 40 percent from downtown. The more likely scenario in my opinion is Ferrell guarding Burke, Oladipo on Hardaway, and Hulls on Stauskas, which means Michigan’s freshman sharpshooter will be called upon to shoulder a decent portion of the scoring load. If Stauskas is able to shoot over Hulls or drive by him, he might force Crean’s hand to limit Hulls’ minutes, which would be huge for Michigan, as the former Indiana Mr. Basketball shoots 48.1 percent from behind the arc.

3. Embrace the Spotlight: Every college basketball fan is watching this game tonight, and everyone at Assembly Hall tonight knows that. Last year, Indiana took down previously-unbeaten Kentucky at home in a thriller, and the Hoosiers will be looking to do the same tonight. The young Michigan squad needs to embrace the target on their backs, embrace the challenge of beating a great team on the road, and embrace the spotlight of this game.

Against Ohio State, a few Wolverines appeared a little shell-shocked when they fell behind early, and by the time the comeback was on, their energy was drained. Tonight, Stauskas, Hardaway, Jr., and the rest of the team need to play their games within the offense and trust that what the coaches have told them leading up to this game will work. If the Wolverines start forcing shots instead of using the shot clock, they will be dead in the water. Michigan needs to use their lethal fast-break to get some easy buckets and to quiet the crowd while also taking smart shots and making smart passes throughout the night. Easier said than done.

Prediction: This is one of those games where it’s tough to see either team running away with it. A double-digit lead would be huge for either team, but particularly for Indiana. Michigan will use the knowledge gained at Ohio State and at Minnesota to try to stay in the game early, survive a possible onslaught, and perhaps pull away late, retaining the top ranking in the country. But Indiana will do everything in their power to feed off the crowd throughout the night and shoot the lights out. This is the first time all season I have very little idea of what the outcome will be, but because I am forced to make a pick, I have to take Indiana 82-80.