GAME INFO / HOW TO WATCH:
When? Friday, March 10, 12:00 PM, ESPN
Vegas? Indiana -6
Pomeroy? INDIANA by 7, 73% chance of Indiana victory
A TALE OF TWO SEASONS
When Indiana traveled to Ann Arbor back in February, the Hoosiers were ranked 26th on KenPom and the hosting Wolverines were 32nd. Michigan raced out to an early lead before Indiana found their rhythm, closing to 24-20 before ripping off twenty-eight straight points, a run that would extend into the second half and put IU well enough ahead for the remainder of the game.
Since that game, Michigan went from possible Big Ten contenders (with a 7-2 record prior to their game against IU) to firmly on the NCAA Tournament bubble, likely needing a win over the top-seeded Hoosiers to make their way into the field. Their KenPom ranking plummeted to 55th after losing four of their last five to close the regular season. Indiana, as you may have heard, went on to post a 15-3 conference record, clinching the outright title, and broke into KenPom's top ten after winning their last five games, including wins over Purdue, Iowa, and Maryland.
Earlier today, Michigan held on against a plucky Northwestern team, who managed to tie the game at the (almost) buzzer with a putback tip-in from Alex Olah. A ridiculous Duncan Robinson three pointer brought Michigan level after the Wildcats built a small lead in overtime and the Wolverines didn't look back after that.
HERE WOULD YOU LIKE SOME FACTORS?
|INDIANA (#5 Adj. Offense)||58.9% (2nd)||19.7% (275th)||37.3% (16th)||33.1% (266th)|
|MICHIGAN (#128 Adj. Defense)||51.1% (233rd)||17.5% (213th)||25.6% (27th)||26.3% (11th)|
|INDIANA (#65 Adj. Defense)||49.5% (154th)||19.0% (116th)||28.7% (125th)||29.3% (37th)|
|MICHIGAN (#30 Adj. Offense)||55.5% (13th)||14.8% (11th)||24.6% (316th)||28.7% (338th)|
Michigan is, essentially, IU-lite. They're an offensively-oriented squad and that offense is fueled largely by their talented guards and wings. Mark Donnal and Ricky Doyle take turns at the 5, and both post above-average offensive numbers in their limited possessions. With Caris LeVert in and out (mostly out) of the lineup with injuries throughout the year, Zak Irvin became the team's centerpiece, playing more minutes than all but five players in the conference season and using 23.8% of the team's possessions and taking 24.0% of the shots. Unfortunately for Michigan, he pairs that usage with an offensive rating of 95.6 in conference play, thanks largely to a complete lack of offensive rebounding (1.6%) and a turnover rate of 17.6%. But, as we're always quick to point out: he is an Indiana kid playing against Indiana. If you are surprised by the 32 points he drops tomorrow, you haven't been paying attention.
Feeding the "IU-lite" idea is also the fact that Michigan is surrendering 1.08 PPP to conference opponents. In their game against Indiana in Ann Arbor, the Wolverines allowed the Hoosiers to score at a 1.16 PPP clip.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH FOR:
- Michigan (probably tired) vs. Indiana (probably not): The top-four finish is crucial because Indiana had the luxury of not having to play basketball today while Michigan spent their Thursday afternoon in a 45-minute dogfight with the Wildcats. While this has been one of the slowest Indiana teams in Crean's tenure (169th adj. tempo) it might behoove the Hoosiers to speed things up against a Wolverine team that a) could wear down very quickly during their second game in two days and b) might not be all that comfortable playing fast anyway (289th adj. tempo).
- Duncan Robinson / Zak Irvin vs. Troy Williams / Collin Hartman: While the rest of the rosters match up pretty nicely (assuming Robert Johnson is back) I think the game will come down to how Indiana can handle Michigan's talented shooters on the wing. Williams and Hartman have shown to be good defenders in spurts, with Troy marred mostly by inconsistency and Hartman having a recurring issue with fouls. Both Robinson and Irvin have the ability to punish teams if you let them shake loose on the perimeter. Don't be surprised to see Coach Crean turn to OG Anunoby early and often in this game to check either of those guys.
- I can no longer think of creative ways to put Robert Johnson's health in this section. It has been a long time since Robert Johnson last played basketball but comments from Coach Crean in addition to him appearing without the notorious walking boot as he watched the Maryland game seems to indicate that RoJo will be making his return against Michigan. Whether or not he plays a full load of minutes remains to be seen, but getting some court time before the NCAAs is a pretty good idea.