Three days after watching the bottom fall out in a double-digit loss at Rutgers, Indiana gets to play the best team in the Big Ten.
Hell yeah. Sweet. Gonna be great.
Archie Miller’s teams at IU have yet to beat Michigan, losing by an average margin of 18 points across the four meetings since the fall of 2017. Maybe the quick turnaround for the Wolverines, who overpowered Iowa on Thursday night, will make a difference? I mean, maybe. Strange things do happen in this sport. But probably not.
Overall, Michigan’s program has won each of the past seven meetings between the schools, the Wolverines’ longest streak in the series. As a service to you, click here for a list of other things to watch on Saturday at noon.
Hoo, man. Michigan is good.
Juwan Howard is on track to be the Big Ten Coach of the Year and forward Hunter Dickinson is looking like the easy choice for Big Ten Freshman of the Year. Dickinson received his seventh freshman of the week award from the league office this week, tying him with Trey Burke for the most by a Michigan player in a single season. He leads the Wolverines in scoring (14.9), rebounding (7.8), blocks (30; 1.7) and field goal percentage (62.6%), while posting 15 double-figure scoring efforts on the year. Dickinson has an old-school post game and, according to Bart Torvik, he’s shooting 78% on close 2-pointers and 64% on all shots inside the arc. Over his past five games, Dickinson is also 17-for-19 at the line.
Isaiah Livers adds a load of versatility to Michigan’s lineup, while shooting 48.4% from the field and 44.8% from 3-point range. Although his scoring (14.4 ppg) demands attention, Livers is doing a bit of everything to make Howard’s group go. He’s averaging career highs in rebounding (5.9) and assists (2.4).
Franz Wagner has started all 45 matchups of his two-year career, posting 12.9 points and 6.4 rebounds per game this season. He’s sort of in the Livers mold, in that he can help create offense in a number of ways. Wagner is shooting 61% on 2s, 38% on 3s, while also averaging 3.0 assists per contest.
Michigan’s backcourt features guards Mike Smith and Eli Brooks. Smith is a Columbia transfer who leads the Wolverines at 5.3 helpers per game. He has at least six assists in nine of his last 12 games. Brooks has hit double figures in the scoring column eight times, including a season-high 17 at Ohio State last weekend.
From top to bottom, it’s a very impressive group. Over at KenPom, Michigan is one of just three teams in the country listed among the top 10 in both adjusted offensive (No. 6) and defensive (No. 6) efficiency.
Since coming back from its two-week pause, Michigan has now won at Wisconsin by 8, beat Rutgers at home by 7, won at Ohio State by 5, and just handed Iowa its worse loss of the season, 79-57.— Brendan Quinn (@BFQuinn) February 26, 2021
Those four teams are ranked 4, 7, 13, 26 in Kenpom and are a combined 64-29.
Things to watch
An ankle injury kept sophomore guard Armaan Franklin on the sideline during Wednesday’s second half, and it’s not clear if he’ll be able to play at all this weekend. Needless to say, for an IU team with ongoing production issues in the backcourt, Franklin’s availability is crucial to the Hoosiers’ hopes for making this a competitive game.
One of the few things Michigan doesn’t do exceptionally well is force turnovers. The Wolverines rank 339rd nationally this season with a defensive turnover percentage of 14.7%. Over Michigan’s past four games, its opponents are averaging just 7.7 errors per contest. IU, meanwhile, is averaging 14 turnovers per game over its past four matchups.
Trips to the line
During conference play, no one in the Big Ten is getting to the line at a higher rate than Indiana. On the other hand, no Big Ten team is doing a better job of keeping the opposition off the free throw line than Michigan. Strength vs. strength!
Michigan is hot from deep
Not only do the Wolverines have the second-highest 3-point percentage (40.6%) in league play this season, they’re been especially lethal this week. Across its two games against Ohio State and Iowa, Michigan shot 47% (19-for-40) from beyond the arc.
Game Info / How to Watch
Who? Michigan (17-1, 12-1) at Indiana (12-11, 7-9)
Where? Assembly Hall, Bloomington, Ind.
When? Saturday, noon Eastern
Channel? FOX | Gus Johnson (p-b-p), Bill Raftery (analyst)
Radio? IU Radio Network; Sirius 106, XM 196, Internet 958: Don Fischer, Errek Suhr & Joe Smith
Vegas? Michigan -10