Who: Michigan (8-7) vs. Indiana (7-8)
Days after losing their leading scorer, freshman Maurice Creek, Indiana rallied and knocked off Michigan, 71-65. The difference in the first match-up was Indiana’s ability to get to the line. Michigan committed several ticky tack fouls and Indiana posted an impressive free throw rate of 59%, the worst Michigan has given up all year.
In the first match-up, Sims and Harris were underwhelming combining for 25 points on 9 of 23 shooting and pulling down only 4 rebounds. Verdell Jones, Christian Watford, and Devan Dumes provided the bulk of the scoring for the Hoosiers but it was Jeremiah Rivers’ scoop layup in traffic that put the game out of reach.
Michigan looks to get back on the winning track after last weekend’s disappointing collapse versus Northwestern. A home win over Indiana is a must for just about any team in the conference and Michigan is no different.
Through 4 games of the 5 game stretch that many deemed must wins, Michigan is only 2-2. One thing is certain, after tonight it doesn’t get any easier. Michigan hosts UConn and then heads to Wisconsin and Purdue before the Spartans come to town on January 26th.
Indiana’s strength on offense is getting to the free throw line (44.2% FTR), the problem is that they only shoot 66% from the charity stripe. They turn the ball over a lot, although they won the turnover battle in their first matchup with Michigan, and shoot a mediocre 48.9% effective field goal percentage. They do shoot 36.1% from three point range but only take 27.3% of their shots from three point range.
Indiana’s defense is a bit more impressive. They hold opponents to an eFG% of 45.8 and force turnovers on 23.1% of opponents’ possessions. However, they give up a lot of free throws (FTR 44.9%) and are mediocre on the defensive glass (66.5 DR%).
Listening to Tom Crean speak, it appears that Indiana is content with matching Michigan’s size, rather than trying to go big and overpower them. That means we will likely see a lineup of Verdell Jones III, Jeremiah Rivers, Jordan Hulls, Christian Watford, and Tom Pritchard. Watford is a versatile four man who can score inside and out. Verdell Jones is the guy who can create in the backcourt and killed Michigan the first time around with 20 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 steals.
Vegas likes Michigan a lot in this one, calling them 13 point favorites, while KenPom says Michigan by 9. I expect much better performances from DeShawn Sims and Manny Harris at home, but I have a tough time assuming any game will be an easy victory for Michigan.
The key for Michigan is to keep Indiana off the free throw line, take care of the ball, and get DeShawn Sims involved early and often. If they manage that, they should be ok against an Indiana team that not only hasn’t won a road game this year, they’ve only played one.
Question of the day: How many non-student fans show up for this one? A 9PM tip against a low-level Big Ten team after a disappointing home loss is the recipe for a very weak crowd.