GAME INFO / HOW TO WATCH:
When? Tuesday, Feb. 2, 9:00 PM, ESPN
Vegas? Michigan -3
Pomeroy? Michigan by 3, 40% chance of Indiana victory
TIME TO PUT THE BIG BOY PANTS ON
The Indiana Hoosiers have had, for all intents and purposes, a relatively cupcake Big Ten schedule so far this year. Of their nine games so far, KenPom ranks just two of the games (road games at Nebraska, Wisconsin) as a "Tier A" game and no "Tier B" games. A Tier A game represents a top 50 opponent adjusting for the location of the game, and Tier B is the same concept for a top 100 opponent.
The remainder of IU's schedule features six Tier A games and two Tier B games, starting with Tuesday's visit to the Crisler Center.
It also serves as the beginning of a tough four-game stretch with a trip to Michigan, Penn State, a home game against Iowa and a trip to Michigan State. Starting off that stretch with a win would be a huge boost.
HERE WOULD YOU LIKE SOME FACTORS?
|INDIANA (#22 Adj. Offense)||60.2% (2nd)||20.6% (298th)||38.5% (11th)||34.6% (225th)|
|MICHIGAN (#129 Adj. Defense)||49.1% (140th)||18.1% (193rd)||25.9% (35th)||26.6% (26th)|
|INDIANA (#59 Adj. Defense)||48.2% (109th)||20.0% (72nd)||28.9% (124th)||31.2% (64th)|
|MICHIGAN (#13 Adj. Offense)||58.1% (4th)||14.7% (9th)||25.2% (292nd)||29.3% (329th)
The Wolverines have nearly as high-octane an offense as the Hoosiers do, just without the turnovers. Defensively, they rank right near the Hoosiers in everything save for offensive rebound percentage, which could be a key for the Hoosiers on Tuesday.
The Wolverines struggle not just on the offensive glass, but rebounding in general thanks to a lack of size. Their leading rebounder, Derrick Walton, is 6'0" and averages 5.9 boards a game. Caris LeVert, a guard/forward, is second on the team in rebounding, but also hasn't played in a month. Their first "big man" on the rebounding list is Mark Donnal, a 6'9" sophomore who averages 3.9 rebounds.
Time to eat, Thomas Bryant.
STUFF TO WATCH FOR
Indiana front line vs. Michigan front line - Building off the last section, the Hoosiers will have an advantage on the front line, led by Bryant and including former Wolverine Max Bielfeldt (more on him to come).
While the Hoosiers are coming off one of their worst performances in recent weeks as a team, Bryant feasted on the Gopher frontline. Tuesday presents him with an even bigger advantage against a remarkably undersized Wolverine front line. Expect a healthy amount of Bryant to start the game as the Hoosiers look to take the fans out of the game earlier by drawing fouls down low.
Max Bielfeldt vs. Michigan - The most natural story line going into Tuesday's game is that of Bielfeldt returning to face his former team. As a Wolverine last season, Bielfeldt averaged 5.1 points and 3.6 rebounds off the bench, offering some big man depth to John Beilein's team.
Now, he's doing the same role with Indiana under Tom Crean and having more success in doing so. He's averaging career highs across the board and plays an important role for the Hoosiers as Bryant's primary back-up and a sort of small ball center.
The emotions will be high for Bielfeldt but he'll have a huge advantage, alongside Bryant, against that small and inexperienced Michigan front line.
Maui Hoosiers vs. 2016 Hoosiers - Saturday's performance in Assembly Hall raised tons of question marks. The Hoosiers looked like the version of the team that traveled to the Maui Invite and laid a giant goose egg. They couldn't stop anything defensively and resorted to jumpers for much of the second half offensively, where they were ice cold.
If not for a career game from Bryant, the questions and criticisms surrounding this team would be even bigger and louder. Bryant saved the Hoosiers in the first half and did just enough down the stretch to help the Hoosiers pull out a win.
The question is, was Saturday a blip in the radar, or did the Hoosiers relapse? The questions come at the absolute worst time as Indiana's schedule picks up.
One big factor in the poor performance of Saturday is the continued poor performance of two key Hoosiers in Troy Williams and Nick Zeisloft. In our last piece, we noted that both were in a slump and needed to snap out of it. They responded by going a combined 4-of-14 with Zeisloft going 0-for-4 from beyond the arc.
For the Hoosiers to have success, it has to be more than Yogi and Bryant, and Williams and Zeisloft need to step up.