Game Info / How to Watch:
Who? Indiana Hoosiers (14-6 (4-3), #30 KenPom) vs. Michigan Wolverines (13-7 (3-4), #44 KenPom)
When? Thursday, January 26th, 9:00 PM, ESPN2
Where? Crisler Center, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Vegas? INDIANA +1
Pomeroy? Michigan by 1, 46% chance of Indiana victory
Who needs defense? Indiana's massive efficiency split between their offense and defense is of no surprise to you, Probable Hoosier Fan, but did you know that Michigan is basically a less efficient version of Indiana? Their offense is superb (19th nationally, 3rd in B1G) and their defense is abysmal (154th nationally, 14th, B1G). They peaked at 15th on KenPom after neutral court wins over Marquette and SMU but have been slowly tumbling ever since. They're 3-4 in the Big Ten, including a loss to Illinois in which they surrendered 1.42 PPP, which is a tick higher than the rate Indiana scored against Houston Baptist earlier this year.
So if you're a fan of highly efficient offense, Thursday night on ESPN2 is appointment viewing. Both of these teams know how to score and are ... uh, defensively deficient.
HERE WOULD YOU LIKE SOME FACTORS?
|INDIANA (#9 Adj. Offense)||57.5 (8th)||20.9 (297th)||39.8 (6th)||37.3 (127th)|
|MICHIGAN (#154 Adj. Defense)||52.9 (272nd)
||27.8 (96th)||26.7 (28th)
|INDIANA (#115 Adj. Defense)||46.1 (34th)||16.4 (303rd)||28.6 (126th)||33.5 (138th)|
|MICHIGAN (#19 Adj. Offense)||55.7 (21st)||14.7 (7th)||26.6 (269th)||30.0 (294th)
This is performance art. To have two teams be this clearly talented on offense and yet so inept on defense and to get them on the same floor is a gift from the college basketball gods to the casual fan needing something to do on Thursday night.
For Indiana and Michigan fans, however, it's the latest installment of a most frustrating nightmare.
The Hoosiers score 120.6 points per 100 possessions while Michigan is scoring 118.3, which used to be rarefied air for college basketball. Prior to the 2013-14 season, you'd see maybe two or three (and frequently zero) teams clear 118 points per 100 possessions and certainly almost never a team over 120. It's a new age, however, Michigan is barely inside the top-20 and the difference between Indiana and #1 (UCLA) is the same as the difference between Indiana and #32 (Arkansas).
Unlike Indiana, Michigan does an excellent job of holding onto the ball on offense but, also unlike Indiana, they're miserable on the offensive glass. Granted, Indiana isn't exactly the same rebounding threat without OG Anunoby and Juwan Morgan, but nevertheless, preventing offensive rebounds will be a big key in this game, as they always are for Indiana. Every miss is gold, you cannot give any team a second chance to crack this defense, much less an offense as good as Michigan's.
Senior and Real-Fishers-Guy Zak Irvin is the focal point for the Wolverines, playing more minutes, taking more shots, and using more possessions than anyone else on the roster. He's enjoying a rebound from last season (97.7 ORtg), but was never able to build on a promising freshman campaign in which he posted a 117.8, which was largely buoyed by hitting threes at a rate of 42.5%. His distance-shooting cratered last season but has recovered somewhat (34.1%) though he's off to a dismal start in conference play, hitting only 6 of his 24 treys. He has offset his losses at the perimeter by picking up his assists and his assist rate of 20.8% leads the team and is only behind Josh Newkirk among Indiana players.
Also, he's from Indiana, you know how that goes.
The rest of the Michigan rotation, with the exception of Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and freshman Xavier Simpson, are hitting over 40% from behind the arc and Indiana cannot afford to give away open looks. Michigan is 23rd in 3PA/FGA nationally, and 1st in conference play, they will hunt those shots as much as they can and if they get them, they're unlikely to miss, especially at home.
STUFF TO WATCH FOR
Who wants to guard DJ Wilson? Like Miles Bridges over the weekend, Michigan has their own freshman phenom that presents some major matchup issues for Indiana. DJ Wilson is 6-10, is fierce on the glass at both ends, has an eFG of 63.8% and hits 43.8% form behind the arc. If Juwan Morgan misses this game, it'll take another collective effort like the one on Miles Bridges to keep Wilson down. Indiana's ragtag rotation held Bridges to 4-17 from the field, can they take that show on the road?
- Thomas Bryant on the perimeter. Bryant will need to have a clean game at the perimeter on both ends for Indiana to operate at peak capacity. With current injuries, Indiana will lean on Bryant playing with De'Ron Davis more than ever, and Davis being in the game in Tom Crean's offense means Bryant becomes a stretch instead of a post. Too many times it seems the talented sophomore tries to do too much out there, and not trusting his instincts to shoot or pass, eventually leading to over-dribbling and bad turnovers. On defense, given the aptitude of Michigan's bigs to shoot the ball from range, Bryant will have to follow them out there and play sound defense.
- Juwan Morgan's Health. The above two points get significantly easier if Indiana's do-it-all sophomore forward is available for a full complement of minutes. Morgan would be a solid candidate to mark DJ Wilson and would reduce the minutes Thomas Bryant would need to spend out on the perimeter. He suited up but did not play against Michigan State, and has been on the shelf since January 15th. One would imagine his return has to be coming soon, and with two critical road games coming up, now would be a great time to get Indiana's most consistent player at both ends back.
Don't let Michigan's d3PT% fool you. While Michigan's d3PT% might make your mouth water (41.8%), recognize that they're 17th in the country when it comes to d3PA/FGA. Translation: they don't surrender very many attempts from beyond the arc, but the ones that do go up are going in more often than just about everyone else in the country. If they can prevent James Blackmon Jr. and company from getting a lot of looks at the perimeter, it won't matter as much to them how many go in.
- SHOULD BE A QUICK GAME: HEY BIG TEN REFS BOTH OF THESE TEAMS HAVE TRASH FREE THROW RATES AND DON'T GUARD CLOSE ENOUGH TO FOUL (LMAO) SO PLEASE DON'T RUIN THE GAME FLOW WITH YOUR DANG WHISTLES. WE'RE TRYING TO GET A HUNDO APIECE BE A TEAM PLAYER.