Game 22: Michigan at Indiana Preview

Dylan Burkhardt
Who: No. 1 Michigan (20-1, 7-1 B1G) at No. 3 Indiana (19-2, 7-1 B1G) az8euie9cuea9w3rvw9z5qrch[1]
Where: Assembly Hall (Bloomington, IN)
When: 9:00 p.m., Saturday, February 2nd, 2013
Radio: MGoBlue, 950 AM, 102.9 FM, Sirius/XM 91
More: First Look

Everyone had this game circled on their calendars when schedules were announced in August but I’m not sure that anyone expected it to live up to this much hype. Even fewer people expected Michigan to be the No. 1 team in the country on February 2nd after Indiana opened the season at the top of the polls. As it is, No. 1 vs. No. 3 will be the highest ranked game ever played Assembly Hall history, topping another match-up between the same teams 20 years ago when No. 1 Indiana beat No. 4 Michigan by a score of 93-92.

We live in an era of college basketball where everyone wants to declare the regular season meaningless but this is as big is it gets in the college basketball world. College Game Day will be in Bloomington, tickets are being resold somewhere in the neighborhood of 600 to 1,000 dollars. It’s fair to say that Michigan hasn’t played in a college basketball game of this magnitude since the Fab Five lived in South Quad. Seeing the ranking next to Michigan’s name on a Monday afternoon is one thing but watching the Wolverines take the court as the No. 1 team at Assembly Hall is going to be something else. Michigan has played, and will play, challenging games this season but is unlikely to face a more difficult match-up before late March.

We’ve spent 1,000s of words raving about Michigan’s offense this season but Indiana’s is almost as good. The Hoosiers check in at 1.23 points per (adjusted) offensive possession compared to Michigan’s 1.25. Michigan is unlikely to face another offense — or team — as good as Indiana unless it reaches the Final Four. Indiana shoots the daylight out of the ball, making 54% of its twos and 42% of its threes for a 57% eFG% (4th nationally) but that’s just the start. The Hoosiers also feast on the offensive glass, rebounding 41% of their misses, and at the free throw line, shooting 49 free throws for every 100 field goal attempts. Indiana’s offense hasn’t slowed down in Big Ten play as the Hoosiers rank first or second in the league in shooting, offensive rebounding and free throw rate. The only weak spot of Indiana’s offense is the turnover. The Hoosiers have coughed the ball up once every five possessions in Big Ten games, fourth worst among Big Ten teams.

On the season, Indiana’s defense ranks 15th nationally by Ken Pomeroy. In Big Ten games, the Hoosiers have been about equal to Michigan: pretty good. The Hoosiers have surrendered .942 PPP in league games compared to Michigan’s .945 PPP. The teams check in as the third and fourth best defenses in the league respectively.

Indiana’s defense is aggressive, forcing more turnovers on 22 percent of its opponents’ possessions – more than any other Big Ten team. The Hoosiers are stout in the middle as opponents make 43% of their twos and overall surrender a 44% effective field goal percentage (3rd B1G). Where Indiana runs into some difficult is on the defensive glass. Big Ten opponents rebound nearly a third of their misses and the Hoosiers rank 8th in the conference in defensive rebounding.

IUPUITH0008[1]Cody Zeller was just about everyone’s pick for Preseason Player of the Year and he’s been very good this season, even if he’s no longer the odds on favorite to take home the Wooden award. Pundits will cherry pick on the handful of subpar games or halves that Zeller has had this year against Wisconsin, Penn State or Michigan State but Zeller is still one of the best big men in the country. He makes 62 percent of his twos and gets to the free throw line more often than any Big Ten player other than Aaron White. Zeller does just about everything you want in a big man from rebounding on both ends to running the floor. The potential of Jordan Morgan missing Saturday’s game, combined with the fact that Zeller draws fouls at such a high rate, could be a serious problem for the Wolverines.

Indiana’s No. 2 scorer is a guy that was somewhat off the radar over the offseason but is now being discussed as a potential lottery pick, Victor Oladipo. Oladipo has been Mr. Everything for the Hoosiers. He’s a lethally efficient scorer, making 69% of his twos and 53% of his threes, but he makes an even great impact on the defensive end of the floor.

6-footers Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell and Jordan Hulls start in the backcourt. Hulls attempts 64% of his field goals from three point range and connects at a 48 percent clip. Leave him open and put three points on the board for the Hoosiers. Yogi is the star freshman of Indiana’s class and while his numbers don’t jump off the page, he’s a kid that always seems to make a big play. Ferrell is shooting 44% on twos, 33% on twos and is the leading assist man on the Indiana roster.

Christian Watford is a polarizing figure among Indiana fans as there always seems to be a hint of displeasure despite his productive career. Watford has become more efficient in every season at Indiana and he’s connecting on 48% of his threes this year. Yes, he’s not a good two point scorer (42%) or a terrific defender but he’s a versatile scorer that stretches the floor and gets to the line. Watford torched Michigan a season ago in Bloomington, scoring 25 points on 8-of-11 (3-4 3pt) shooting but Glenn Robinson III should have an easier time guarding him than Zack Novak.

Will Sheehey and Remy Abell play 22 and 15 minutes on the wing off the bench respectively but I suspect both players will surpass those averages against Michigan. Sheehey scored six points in a three game span in early mid-January but snapped out of it over the last three, scoring 27 in his last three games on 8-of-15 (5-6 3pt) shooting. Both players will come in handy for Indiana as the Hoosiers look to offset Michigan’s backcourt which features two 6-foot-6 wings.

The Assembly Hall factor can’t be overrated. It seems like every recent trip that Michigan has made to Bloomington has involved falling into a massive hole in the first half before a steady comeback effort. Watching Indiana play, that’s how most games at Assembly Hall end up. The Hoosiers are going to make an early run and Michigan is going to have to stand tough and weather it.  Two or three turnovers, quick shots or bad plays can change the whole game. As John Beilein puts it, Michigan needs to just hit singles rather than swinging for extra bases. Indiana’s offense is too potent and too quick to provide with any extra easy opportunities.

Something we’ve rarely said this season, Ken Pomeroy likes Indiana – by a fairly comfortable margin. Pomeroy’s projections give Indiana a 76-70 victory with just a 32% chance of Michigan pulling off the road upset. Despite the No. 1 ranking, the odds are against Michigan in this one. The Wolverines youth was apparent in their road trip to Ohio State earlier this season and Bloomington will provide another – more stringent – test of road composure for this young team.

This & That: College Game Day will be on-site in Bloomington and the festivities will begin Saturday morning at 10 a.m. on ESPNU before moving to ESPN at 11 a.m., there will also be GameDay programming on ESPN starting at 8 p.m. before the 9 p.m. tip off. Will Michigan wear new all-maize Adidas ‘Bleed Out’ jerseys that we dug up this summer? They are on sale but it remains to be seen if Michigan will wear the all maize uniforms in Bloomington. Michigan has partnered with SportStream to provide a second screen service during sporting events, check out a preview here.

  • hops

    Great writeup, although I’m not sure I would classify six points on the road as a “wide margin.” Pumped for Saturday night.

    • True, I suppose it’s relative. Just feels like a wide margin because Michigan has been favored in almost every game or perhaps a 1-2 point dog. Changed it to “fairly comfortable”.

  • KDem29

    Really good write up. I like the analysis. Do we have any update on Morgan’s status? Should we assume he is out until we hear otherwise?

    • Per Beilein a couple of minutes ago. He’s going to give it a go in practice today and they’ll see where he’s at.

  • Mattski

    Have no idea how this turns out, but I think that Michigan–as an incredibly young team with such a lot of evolving options–has a higher ceiling than Indiana. Forestall a big Indiana lead–receive even a somewhat fair hearing from the refs–I think that there’s some chance we stun the Bloomington crowd and walk out with a nice win.

    Look for Jordan Morgan in the Willis Reed Game Seven role down the stretch.

    • Lester Abram

      If MIchigan really has a higher ceiling, then a loss tonight would still benefit Michigan for the season. No game this year will be tougher than a true road game against #3 in the nation with outright #1 in the B1G on the line A learning experience, either way the game turns out.

  • soulfire21

    Indiana ranks in the 18th percentile at defending pick-n-roll teams like ours, and Ohio State ranks in the 89th percentile in that regard (you know, the game where we tied it after being down by 24 on the road). I like our chances to win, honestly. Someone’s got to.

  • ChathaM

    I think this will be the rare college game where the collective offensive skill of the players involved will equate to neither team being able to guard the other. It should be really fun to watch.

  • GoBlue

    Maize Jerseys for the game PLEASE :)

  • Wayman Britt

    Don’t get me wrong I would like UM to win evey game, but if we lose at Bloomington I won’t be upset. To win at IU, you don’t need to just play better than IU’s players, you also have to beat the referees and the guy running the clock.

  • Alex

    Does anyone know when is the last time we’ve won at assembly hall?

    • Mark Worthley

      Crean’s first season….I was there. IU was terrible.

      • UMQuasi

        Was that the game where were down 20 and LLP hit the three to tie it at the end?

        • serious

          Yes, yes it was. One of the ugliest made 3s that I can remember, but a 3 nonetheless.

  • South Florida Maize Rage

    My one question that makes me feel good about Blue’s chances. Who is Jordan Hulls gonna guard? Indiana almost has to play zone when he is in the game. Burke slashing through a zone is a great option for Michigan.

  • Nick

    Hoosier here. Don’t hate me for trolling a UM site, just curious about what your thoughts were about this game. Hopefully this is only the first of 4 games we play this season. I may bleed crimson but at this point I’m proud of the BIG 10 as a whole, and you guys are a large part of that. Btw, Hulls scares me to death. A defensive liability/slumping shooter. Love him to death but vs your gaurds…Short leash for him tmrw hopefully. On a final note..DADDY’S BETTER…

    • Blue


  • MGoTweeter

    We On! Should be a very fun and entertaining night. The way I Iook at it, in order for Michigan to win, it is all about keeping it relatively close early. I have no doubts that Indiana will come out on fire, the big question is how well does Michigan weather the storm as Dylan said. If Michigan can stay within a handful by the under 4 and within 8 by the under 8, I will like their chances.

    Even though it kind of goes against how Michigan has played for most of the year, I feel like the best strategy might be take the air out of the ball early. Make Indiana defend for thirty plus every time down early in the game. Let them waste their legs on D and trying to push the ball after long possessions. I do believe Michigan can win a shootout with Indiana but if Michigan misses some quick ones early, those are going to turn into points at the other end. Start the game slow, wear down the Hoosiers a bit and take the crowd out of it, then look to get into the normal tempo once everything settles down.

    Cant wait til 9

  • Dave Pratt

    Michigan has to make IU play a Halfcourt game on the offensive side. Yogi loves to get out on the break and find Zeller streaking down the middle. Also Oladipo is a master of hiding on the baseline behind the backboard on the break. Michigan has to be aware where he is. If we can get them to have to run an offense they will get frustrated! If we try to get into a running game with them it will be a long night.

  • gobluemd16

    In Bloomington. I literally cannot remember being this excited for a basketball game, ever. It obviously has importance, but losing on the road to Indiana is nothing to be ashamed of, and it wouldn’t really put us behind in the grand scheme of things for the B1G Championship. With that said, this is just an enormous game and one that will really show our capabilities away from home, I CANNOT wait.

  • Mattski

    I was THIS close to taking my kid to the FSU game here in Tallahassee today; glad that I did not.

  • HoosierDaddy

    Besides a few meaningless typos, very well written article. Expect a great game tonight, good luck Wolverines! Go Hoosiers! … (Between InsideTheHall and UMhoops, the B1G has some great blogs!)