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The Michigan game.

Michigan Wolverines
Current record: 11-3 (1-1)
Current RPI: 40
Current Sagarin: 37
Current Pomeroy: 56
2007-08 record: 10-22 (5-13)
2007-08 RPI: 167
2007-08 Sagarin:
2007-08 Pomeroy: 112
Series: IU leads 97-51
Last IU win: 1/8/2008 (78-64 in Ann Arbor)
Last Michigan win: 2/17/2007 (58-55 in Ann Arbor)
Last Michigan win in Bloomington: 1/24/1995 (65-52)
Pomeroy scouting report
TV:6:30 pm Wednesday, BTN

Michigan, like several other Big Ten programs, is dramatically better this season than last. I had forgotten just how bad the Wolverines were in John Beilein's first season, but with non-conference wins over Duke and UCLA, Michigan is showing signs of progress. Michigan lost its Big Ten opener to Wisconsin at home, but beat Illinois, also at home, on Sunday. I doubt Michigan fans will feel much sympathy for IU's plight, given the long ramifications for the (much more serious) violations associated with the Fab Five/Fisher era improprieties. It seemed that Michigan was in limbo for a decade after that story broke. IU is 15-3 against Michigan since the Wolverines' last NCAA bid in 1998, and won 11 in a row to begin the Amaker era. Also, Michigan's Assembly Hall record of 4-30 is the worst of any Big Ten team other than Penn State and Northwestern (neither school has won in Assembly Hall). Michigan could exercise some demons with a win tomorrow night.

On the other hand, like Iowa, Michigan is a perimeter-oriented, less-than-physically-overpowering team that probably presents one of IU's best chances for a Big Ten win. Right now, Pomeroy gives IU a 17 percent chance to win this one. IU's only better odds are for home games against Penn State (21%) and Minnesota (19%).

Not unlike Iowa, Michigan plays a slow-paced style (62 possessions per game, #262 of 344). The Wolverines take extremely good care of the ball, ranking #4 nationally with a 16.1 turnover percentage. The Wolverines' overall offensive efficiency ranks them in the top 30 nationally, and they are shooting very well from two point range (51.7%, #49) and from the line (77.8, #9). Michigan takes 45.1 percent (#13) of its shots from behind the arc, but hasn't been overwhelmingly good in that regard: the Wolverines are shooting 34.9 percent, good enough for #134 nationally.

On the defensive side of the ball, Michigan is fine but not overwhelming. They rank #135 in defensive efficiency, play excellent three point defense, and their opponents don't get to the line. As with the Iowa game, one glimmer of hope for the Hoosiers is that Michigan doesn't force many turnovers. IU has improved in that regard recently. The Wolverines also don't rebound all that well, particularly on the offensive end. That's by design, but does create some opportunities for IU. Thanks to better ball handling, IU's offensive production has been better in the last two games, but the defensive performance has slipped. If IU can continue to take care of the ball but can force Michigan to turn the ball over, the Hoosiers might have a chance.

Manny Harris, formerly an IU recruiting target, leads Michigan at 18.8 points per game, but is shooting only 44 percent from the field and 30 percent from behind the arc. DeShawn Sims, a 6-8 junior with three point range, is averaging 16.6 points but is shooting 53 percent overall and 38 percent from behind the arc. If the performances of Iowa's Cyrus Tate and Lipscomb's Adnan Hodzic are any indication, Sims is going to be a problem. Also, Zach Novak, a 6-5 freshman from Chesterton, Indiana, is shooting 43 percent from three point range and is 8-12 in his first two Big Ten games. Also, Laval Lucas-Perry, a midterm transfer from Arizona, is averaging 11.6 per game in his first five games as a Wolverine and is shooting 50 percent from behind the arc.

Michigan is currently at the top of the "others receiving votes" category and the computer rankings show that Michigan is in NCAA Tournament contention. An IU win would be a significant upset, but because Michigan won't be able to push IU around physically in the manner of Gonzaga or Wake Forest, there is some hope. That's about the most we can ask this season.