Game 26: Indiana at Michigan Preview

Dylan Burkhardt
Who: Indiana (12-13) at Michigan (15-10) BlockIU_CMYK[1]
Where: Crisler Arena, Ann Arbor, MI
When: Saturday, February 12th, 4:00 PM
Radio: MGoBlue / WTKA AM 1050 / Sirius Ch. 121 / XM Ch. 141
Last Game: Indiana 80, Michigan 61
Opposition Blog: Inside the Hall

The bottom seven teams in the Big Ten all have Pomeroy rankings that fall somewhere between 40 and 75. Because of the relative strength of the conference’s bottom half, it should come as no surprise that Indiana, tied for last in the standings, isn’t that bad of a team. Indiana managed to knock off Illinois and Minnesota at home and lost at Michigan State by just one point in overtime. Don’t let their record fool you, Indiana’s efficiency margin is almost identical to Michigan’s and the Hoosiers handled Michigan with ease in Bloomington.

Now, Michigan looks to validate its resurgence and recent improvement by avenging its worst performance of the season. The biggest storyline heading into this game is Christian Watford’s broken left hand. The 6-foot-8 sophomore was playing the best basketball of his career before he broke his hand in East Lansing. He is questionable to play on Saturday (listed as “out indefinitely” in the official game notes) and had 17 points and 10 rebounds in the game at Indiana. Watford is a near perfect combination of length and athleticism with inside-out shooting ability. He’s obviously a very tough guard for Michigan because the Wolverines’ options at the four are either too short (Novak) or too slow (Smotrycz).

Indiana’s recent play can be summed up very nicely by one simple chart (HT: TOC)


Indiana’s offense started strong and peaked against Michigan before steadily deteriorating over the next seven games. Part of this is undoubtedly due to injuries – Christian Watford (wrist), Maurice Creek (season), and Verdell Jones III have all missed significant playing time – but Indiana’s offense is trending downward. Defensively, things appear to be coming together despite the injuries. Indiana has held four of its last five opponents under 1.01 points per possession after allowing six of its first seven opponents to score 1.10 points or more per trip.

Offensively, the Hoosiers rank in the bottom half of the Big Ten in all of the four factors: shooting (43.9 eFG%, 8th), offensive rebounding (32 OR%, 7th), free throws (27.6 FTA/FGA, 10th), and turnovers (18.4 TO%, 8th). If you watched the first game in Bloomington, it’s a bit hard to believe these numbers. Indiana scored 1.29 points per possession in that game with a 74 eFG% and a 40% offensive rebound percentage. That was arguably the best offensive game Indiana has played all year and was hands down the worst defensive performance of the year by Michigan. Michigan has improved a bit on the defensive end, but still ranks last in points allowed per possession. The three defensive keys for Michigan defensively are stopping Verdell Jones’ penetration, eliminating clean looks for Jordan Hulls, and Christian Watford not playing.


Indiana’s problems on the defensive end haven’t changed much over the last couple years. Fouls, fouls, and more fouls. Indiana has allowed a free throw rate (FTA/FGA) over 50% in Big Ten games this year and just can’t seem to avoid giving away free points. Indiana’s shooting defense, defensive rebounding, and ability to force turnovers are all average to above average but the free throws kill them time and again. Michigan, the worst team in the league at getting to the line, needs to figure out a way to attack Indiana and draw fouls.

Overall, there are two statistical battles to watch in this one.

  • Michigan’s Defensive Rebounding: Rebound over 70% of Indiana’s misses. Indiana is 3-7 with an offensive rebounding percentage under 30 (wins over Savannah St., Wright St., and SIU Edwardsville).
  • Have a free throw rate over 35%. Michigan is 11-4 with a free throw rate over 20% (losses to UTEP, Indiana, Kansas, Northwestern).

With Creek and (possibly) Watford out, it’s a little easier to believe that Michigan can slow down Indiana. There are still some talented options to watch out for. Jordan Hulls is a lethal shooter with a 66 eFG% – 61% on twos and 47% on threes. Verdell Jones is a wired scorer that averages 12 points per game and has the ability to kill Michigan with his dribble penetration. Victor Oladipo is an electric athlete that seems to make all of the hustle plays. Will Sheehey is coming off a career high 15 point game at Purdue — analyzed frame-by-frame. Jeremiah Rivers has even showed the ability to hit a couple shots in Big Ten play and has efficiently contributed a few extra points to complement his great defense.

Pomeroy likes Michigan, 68-63, with a 71% chance of victory. Home court advantage plays a huge role, mostly because Michigan has been so awful at Assembly Hall that it’s hard not to expect a better home performance. Last year Michigan lost by 6 in Bloomington but beat the Hoosiers by 24 in the second game in Ann Arbor. There aren’t many “should wins” left on the schedule but this one certainly qualifies. Let’s hear your thoughts and predictions in the comments.

  • Tweeter

    Definitely a should win for Michigan. The game at Indiana, Michigan showed no energy and consistently got beat to loose balls and rebounds. That hopefully will not be the case tomorrow. I think Beilein will have the team ready and I would not be surprised at all if we see the exact opposite of the game in Bloomington.

  • MikeM

    With defensive intensity anything like Wednesday, UM will roll in this one.

  • South Florida Maize Rage

    Gotta play some defense this time around. A win gets Blue to 6-7 in the conference which helps in avoiding that 8v9 first round matchup in the Big Ten Tournament where the winner gets OSU. It’d be great to get to play Iowa or Indiana in the tourney instead of PSU or Northwestern first round.

  • KAB

    I hope we continue to shoot well from 3..Michigan wins in a landslide!

  • KAB

    I can not believe that we are not even on the bubble watch on Espn but Michigan St. is one of the last teams in…

    • Azad

      I think if we win tomorrow and split the Illinois/Iowa road games we’re definitely going to be in the middle of bubble talk by that point, we just need to take care of our end of the bargain with a winnable home game tomorrow

    • Jeff

      MSU has a better conference record and has wins over Washington, Wisconsin and Minnesota. Our best win is over MSU, who is just barely listed as in right now. However, if we beat IU, I think we’ll be in the next bubble watch.

      • jmblue

        Clemson should be our best win. They’re 17-7 and have only lost one home game all year (to us!).

    • Kenny

      I do not worry about bubble watch. As long as the team keep winning, they can play themselves into the big dance.

  • Dylan Burkhardt

    John Beilein will be in Peoria tonight watching Max Bielfeldt along with his son Patrick Beilein (asst at Dartmouth). Max has officially visited Dartmouth and unofficially visited Michigan. This all per Cavan Walsh of

    • jy

      Dylan, you gonna have another 2 free ticket promo link for tomorrow. NW game was awesome. Thankyou.

      • Dylan Burkhardt

        No. That was an athletic department promo. Sorry.

        • jy

          yeah…surprised to see only single seats left. But that is awesome. Finally

  • Fred

    Michigan 70 Indiana 62

  • AG2

    McDonalds All American Team is out. Shannon Scott and Amir Williams for Ohio State made the team, as did Brandon Dawson for MSU.

    I swear, people make the team based on what school they choose.

    • Dylan Burkhardt

      Dawson was very deserving, glad he didn’t get snubbed just because there were a lot of other kids in Indiana.

      I was shocked to see Amir’s name on the list.

  • billiam

    Kind of off topic, as it’s about the Nance kid, but his dad grew 4 inches in college (from 6’6 to 6’10). If this kid continues to grow (don’t most kids end up taller than their fathers?) this could start getting ridiculous. I’m personally not a fan of getting a center in this class (see: “Horford , McLimans and Morgan are freshmen”) but if this kid gets to at least 6-9 with his athleticism, I’d be happy. Continue to wait on Belein’s evaluation.

    • Dylan Burkhardt

      Definitely intriguing. I’m headed out to scout him tonight hopefully so I should have more over the weekend.

    • Kenny

      I saw the same thing, Larry Nance Sr grew 4in in college. but if the father is extremely tall (or short), the son tends to be less extreme. having said that, it is very reasonable to expect him grow to 6’8 to 6’9. On the other end, he seems to have a wider body frame than his father.

    • Mith

      If most kids grew up to be taller than their fathers, then people would eventually be ten feet tall. :>)

  • Dylan Burkhardt

    Tim Hardaway Jr. official fluff video:

  • Merlin

    How do you recruit against your son for a player?

    • You tell the prospect that you taught him everything he knows.

    • When your son doesn’t offer scholarships.

  • Mattski

    Win tomorrow and we can begin to fret with some legitimacy about the bubble. Until then I’m just fretting about tomorrow.

    P.S. Wouldn’t it be great if Michigan could be the team that drives the stake through MSU’s NCAA chances in our final regular-season game? Far-fetched, but we can dream.

    • bird

      Amen on your P.S. We’ve got six days to prep for that game as opposed to two for Sparty, if I’m remembering the schedules correctly. That’s something.

      • Mattski

        Yes, noticed that too!

    • Champswest

      That game could determine the post season path for both teams.

  • MikeSal

    Defensive intensity and rebound rebound rebound. Interested to see how Jordan follows up his big performance from Wed. I wouldn’t worry about the lack of bubble talk just yet we take care of our business and we will get there. Besides I’d rather be talked about two weeks from now than today.

  • Alex

    Looking for a strong performance tomorrow. Michigan can win. 72-61.

  • Brad

    To be completely honest, if Michigan can’t win this game against IU at home, then they don’t deserve to be in the tourney. Sorry. This is definitely a game that is a MUST WIN game at home.

    When I look at the remainder of the schedule, I don’t see too many games that Michigan will win.

    @ Illinois: Desperate team that has a more realistic chance of making the tournament than us, and stealing one on the road from them, I just don’t see that happening. LOSS

    @ Iowa: Last 3 games they have played, since we beat them, they have looked impressive in. Beating MSU by 20, sure, MSU is down this year, regardless, a very impressive victory. Won at IU, something we didn’t do. Taking Wisconsin to OT. Iowa is playing with some confidence. This will be a tough battle, but I think it is a winnable road game. WIN

    WISCONSIN: A home game against a very solid opponent. Michigan will have to play a very good game to win this one. I just don’t see it happening. Wisconsin proves to be to much for Michigan to handle. LOSS

    @ Minnesota: Should have never lost to them in the first matchup. Never easy to win at the barn, and they are still in the running for a tourney bid. I’m going to be optimistic and say Michigan pulls an upset here. WIN

    MSU: Beating MSU twice in one season? That’s almost unheard of. But, I see it happening this year. WIN

    • Azad

      Wait so ‘you don’t see too many games that Michigan will win’, yet you are predicting us to win @ Minnesota and home to MSU to end the season, along with @ Iowa? That’s a 4-2 finish you’re predicting and a .500 conference record. I hope your ‘pessimistic’ predictions are correct…

    • sven

      We are going to beat Illinois. Morgan is going to eat their super soft bigs alive. Davis has had a couple of big games in a row so its time for him to completely disappear for a few weeks. Oh and lets not forget Bruce Weber is easily the worst coach in the Big Ten.

      That win over Minnesota last night was nothing special. They are as bad as Iowa without Nolen. We will slap them around in their own house too.

      • Kenny

        Not to overlook Indiana. An advantage of Michigan going to the ILL game is that we have one more day of rest and they just host Purdue. Every game on the schedule is winnable but none would be easy.

    • Mattski

      Cool, so win one in the tourney and we’ve punched our ticket to the Big Dance? You’re the most optimistic pessimist of all time!

  • KAB

    Brad so you are saying we are going to win 2 more BT road games.Wow,I hope your right..

  • Jeff

    This little tidbit makes me feel a little more confident about tomorrow’s game: IU has won one road game under Crean. Ever.

  • KAB

    Interesting stat Jeff.

  • Bill

    I’ve been a M fan since early 70’s and I hate losing to IU more than any other team. But I respect them more than any other. They love basketball and always play hard and compete hard. Hope we play hard and compete and beat these guys to a pulp.

  • Alex

    Definition of sadism: rewatching the Ohio State BTT game from last year. ESPN just showed the bracket from last year. Oh well, looking forward to Indiana tomorrow.

  • kevin

    I agree with the dude that said all the games are winnable but tough. The only surprise to me would be a win at Illinois. I just wish stu would be a little more selfish on offense (in a good way), anyways, another win tomorrow to keep the momentum going.

  • Champswest

    Seems like the last time there was a lot of post season talk here we went on a long losing streak. With our record, it is still a little early to start speculating on post season. A loss against IU and we are probably out of it, so this is a must win for us.
    What worries me about this UM team is right when they are starting to look awsome they go out and look awful. I guess that comes with youth.
    Let’s beat Indiana (I say 71-62) and then worry about the next game.

    • Mith

      It seems to be a common refrain around here of “it is still a little early to start speculating on post season” and I just don’t get it. We’re college basketball fans, of course we’re going to speculate on our team’s chances to make the tourney! I’d agree it probably wouldn’t be good for the players to constantly focus on it, their focus should be on the next game. But we’re fans, whether I focus on Indiana or on the tourney is not going to affect the outcome of the game one bit.

      How exciting that this team that people thought might win about 12 games is sitting here at 15-10 and at least on the edge of the bubble conversation. I was just hoping for a .500 record overall this year and to even talk about actual NCAA chances(however remote) with 6 games to go is awesome!

  • Dylan Burkhardt
    • MHoops1

      I admire his candor but not his judgment. He’s had problems with McCamey for a long time and now he’s calling him (and his teammates) out publicly the day after a huge win. My guess is that this will not end well.

      Got a preliminary scouting report on Nance, Dylan?

      • Dylan Burkhardt

        Yeah. Just cut the video. I’ll have something up in an hour or so.

      • UMHoops Fan

        I don’t admire anything about Weber’s whiny diatribe. He’s right about one thing — at least his players have the excuse of being 21. What’s Weber got?

        Stuff like that makes me that much happier we have John Beilein as our coach.

        • Eddie

          I totally hear you re: weber, BUT unfortunately Weber sounds a little like us UM fans last year. Bothered by lack of leadership, troubled by an inability to meet preseason expectations, and wondering why the so-called stars of the team aren’t able to lift the talents of the supporting cast. Interesting.

          That said, looking forward to a big win tomorrow! Go blue!

          • UMHoops Fan

            I agree he sounds a little like some UM fans from last year, but I don’t remember our coach joining in at all.

            Go blue! and then maybe we can give Weber some more to whine about in a few days :)

          • mgocanada

            Illinois, like the Florida team that will probably lose in the first round, is proof that seniority is overrated. The best teams on the current landscape are those that combine experience with new blood — Texas, OSU, KU. Heck, Duke with Irving played better than Duke with Scheyer. Can’t learn talent.

          • Dylan Burkhardt

            The Duke team that won the national title with Scheyer was worse than the team with Kyrie Irving that played 8 or 9 games. Yup, makes sense.

            Also, Illinois’ problem is figuring out a way to combine its young talent (Richmond) with the seniors. Richmond is probably the most talented player on that roster but they have a tough time figuring how to work him in without stepping on toes.

          • mgocanada

            Well, Dylan, in fairness, that was the consensus among TV colour commentators everywhere while Irving was still playing, even though the 2010 devils lost a whole lot of their front court in addition to losing Scheyer. I mean, I should definitely take Dick Vitale’s hyping with a grain of salt, baby, but I’m not just pulling this idea out of nowhere.

          • Dylan Burkhardt

            Yeah the media loves new and shiny things. They were a good team and Irving is a hell of a talent but I guess we’ll never know. Also the two best players on that team — Nolan and Singler — are also a year older.

  • JayRich

    Is anyone else worried about a letdown today? If there is one problem this team has had this year and last year is that we tend to play up and down to competition. Hopefully an easy win is in the cards but I am pretty leery.

    • Jeff

      Kind of hoping, the scare at the end of the Northwestern game will be enough of a reminder to the team.

  • mgocanada

    Sure there’s a few must-wins (IU, Iowa, MSU) on the schedule, but handling them doesn’t even remotely guarantee us anything. Heck, even if we beat Illinois under the hot lights in Champaign, we will fall victim to bogus claims that “Illinois is fading fast” and get no credit whatsoever. There seems to be a weird principle that when Michigan beats a team, the media declares that team no longer good. (cf. Clemson, State). If we had knocked off KU in OT, the storyline on would be about how Sherron Collins was the missing heart of the that team, and if we had edged OSU, it would have been “I knew these guys were overrated, we miss Evan Turner.”

    Looks like our only option is dismantling Bo Ryan and the Badgers in Crisler, cause the media has an undying love affair with that team and its ugly 1940s style basketball. Can I get an amen. But I think we can pull it off. Forget last year. Crisler’s a tough place for visitors to play, dontchaknow.

    • Mith

      Couldn’t agree less with your assessment that we don’t get any respect or credit. I’ve seen lots of positive comments about Michigan from media and how they’re an improving squad. I have no idea of where you’re getting your negativity from on that front.

      • mgocanada

        Maybe it’s all the attempts to shoe-horn disappointing teams like State into the bubble discussion while a team with a comparable (if mediocre) resume can’t get any such recognition. If we can muscle our way to 8-10, with our without a sig win over UW or Illinois, I think we deserve at least as much consideration as those 10th and 11th place Big East teams that apparently are near-locks if you believe the hair-gelled ESPN talking heads. Hopefully Clemson gives Harrison Barnes and Company more than they can handle at Littlejohn Coliseum today — then do we get to call it a “signature win”?

        But forget about all this NCAA nonsense. Let’s focus on ripping Indiana to shreds the way we did back in 98: