Who: Michigan (6-5) at Indiana (6-6)
After a non-conference season that saw just about everything go wrong, Michigan hopes that conference play can help them salvage their season.
Indiana has improved since last year’s debacle but they still have a ways to go. With the loss of leading scorer Maurice Creek, it looks to be another long Big Ten season for the Hoosiers.
Looking at the four factors, Indiana’s offense relies on offensive rebounding and getting to the free throw line. They are an average shooting team that doesn’t take many threes, however they make threes at a 37% clip. The Hoosiers turn the ball over far too often, coughing it up on 22% of their possessions.
On defense, Indiana limits opponents to a 45.3% eFG% and forces turnovers on 24% of possessions. However they are a subpar defensive rebounding team (65.6% DR%) and give up a ton of free throws (42.5% FTR).
The loss of Maurice Creek can not be underestimated. Creek took 30% of Indiana’s shots when he was on the floor and was by far their most efficient offensive player (64.5% eFG). Ryan Corazza looks at potential changes in the starting lineup with Creek’s injury, and it sounds like we may see Devan Dumes inserted into the lineup.
The Hoosiers rely on Christian Watford and Verdell Jones III to provide the rest of their scoring. Watford is a 6’8″ 215 pound wing that is being forced to play down low who averages 12 points and 6 rebounds per game. Watford’s length and athleticism at the four position should provide a challenge for Novak at the four position. Jones is a 6’5” guard who has a knack for getting to the line (12 ppg). The rest of the lineup is rounded out by Jeremiah Rivers (7ppg, 5 rpg, 5 apg), a stat stuffing point guard who transferred from Georgetown, and big man Tom Pritchard.
On paper, this is a game Michigan should win. Losing a player of Maurice Creek’s caliber is a huge blow to an already struggling team. Michigan is playing for their lives right now and it would be nice to start conference play with a road victory.
On the other hand, it’s Assembly Hall and nothing comes easy. Michigan almost lost there last year despite playing one of the worst IU teams in history. I have a hard time envisioning any sort of easy Michigan win, if they pull it out I think it will be close.
For more on the game, check out my interview with Alex from Inside the Hall.