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#21 INDIANA vs #2 MICHIGAN: Game preview, odds, how-to-watch, and more

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First place in the Big Ten is on the line as the Hoosiers head to Ann Arbor.

NCAA Basketball: Illinois at Indiana Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Game Info / How to Watch

Who? #21 Indiana Hoosiers (12-2 (3-0), #27 KenPom) vs #2 Michigan Wolverines (14-0 (3-0), #5KenPom)

When? Sunday, 1/6/19 4:30 P.M., Crisler Center

Channel? CBS

Vegas? O/U 135, Wolverines -8

KenPom Projection? Michigan by 9, 71-62

During Indiana’s current 7-game winning streak, a pattern of play style has been evident in the Hoosiers’ games: IU starts slow, builds momentum during the end of the first half and early second half, and makes enough plays to win down the stretch. The Hoosiers almost blew the game at Penn State, but other than that they’ve been solid at the end of games.

They’re also out to a 3-0 Big Ten start with wins over Northwestern, Penn State, and Illinois. But the degree of difficulty ramps up today, as Indiana starts a stretch with 4 of their next 5 on the road, and the Hoosiers are still banged up.

Enter Michigan, the second-ranked team in the nation and currently 5th on KenPom.

The Wolverines announced themselves right away this year with a huge win in a title game rematch at Villanova during the Gavitt Games. Then they hosted UNC during the ACC/Big Ten challenge and won convincingly. Michigan’s undefeated, and other than a two-point win over Northwestern, none of their games have really even been close.

John Beilein’s teams normally have had incredibly efficient offenses while the defense does enough to keep them victorious. However, Michigan’s strength this season, like when they were NCAA runners-up last year, is their 2nd-ranked defense.

Four Factors

Four Factors - Michigan

- eFG% TO% Off. Reb % FT Rate
- eFG% TO% Off. Reb % FT Rate
INDIANA (#41 adj. offense) 58.3 (6th) 20.2 (247th) 26.9 (234th) 38.3 (77th)
MICHIGAN (#2 adj. defense) 43.0 (8th) 20.8 (96th) 22.8 (6th) 21.3 (2nd)
- - - - -
MICHIGAN (#28 adj. offense) 53.9 (64th) 14.6 (8th) 27.6 (207th) 33.0 (203rd)
INDIANA (#19 adj. defense) 45.9 (38th) 21.2 (76th) 27.1 (120th) 25.5 (20th)

The Wolverines’ defense is good at pretty much everything, and Romeo Langford will have his hands full going up against Charles Matthews on defense. Whereas Illinois wanted to speed the game up and foul the Hoosiers to disrupt any possible game flow on Thursday, Michigan instead wants to slow the game down and force the Hoosiers into making bad shots. While the Hoosiers have been very efficient shooting the ball this year, they’re not as consistent with threes, and Romeo’s struggles from behind the arc have been well-documented, so Michigan will probably try to get IU into situations where they have to shoot the three to survive. Even though Michigan doesn’t try to force turnovers as much as other teams, they are very good at maintaining the ball when on offense, so let’s not expect a repeat of when IU forced 21 turnovers against the Illini on Thursday night.

What to Watch for

  • Who steps up besides Morgan and Langford? Rob Phinisee is unlikely to play again today for Indiana, which means we’ll get more action from Devonte Green at the point. Al Durham and Justin Smith will also likely start, and while Zach McRoberts had a few good plays on Thursday, he doesn’t seem to be fully back from injury yet.
  • Will Michigan’s size get in the way? Jon Teske, at 7-1, plays the 5 for the Wolverines, and 6-7 freshman Ignas Brazdeikis has been excellent at the 4 so far this season. With Juwan Morgan usually playing the 5 for Indiana, we might see Archie Miller go to having him and De’Ron Davis on the court at the same time to counter Michigan. The Wolverines also excel at preventing teams from grabbing offensive rebounds, so IU won’t be able to clean up on the glass either.
  • Another huge road test means Indiana can’t afford a slow start: The Hoosiers played Arkansas down to the wire in Fayetteville and barely held off Penn State in State College. But they also came out flat and never even got into the game against Duke in Cameron Indoor. Crisler Center can be mercurial as a visiting venue (IU had its 28-0 run there in 2016 but has struggled in subsequent trips), but with Michigan as one of the top teams in the nation, and the disappointment of football season now officially in the rearview mirror, expect Ann Arbor to be fired up for this one.
  • Good luck to Eagles and Bears fans: This game will take place at the same time as the NFC wild-card game between the Bears and Eagles this afternoon. There’s naturally a ton of IU/Bears crossover (and full disclosure: I’m an Eagles fan), so it could either be a very fun or very long day for IU fans with certain NFL allegiances. Both Nate Sudfeld and Jordan Howard will suit up for the game at Soldier Field this afternoon.

Prediction

If Phinisee were healthy and IU had a reliable third option to go with Morgan and Langford, I’d be tempted to pick the Hoosiers in an upset. I don’t see that happening today. Wolverines clamp down on defense and make just enough shots to win comfortably. Michigan 70, Indiana 59.