Watch the Picture
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? MICHIGAN -4
Pomeroy? Michigan by 1, 46% chance of Indiana victory
Listen to Fischer
Here's how Kyle Swick described Michigan and the matchup in this week's game preview:
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.