Indiana followed up its best win of the season with its worst loss, as the 9-7 Michigan Wolverines came to Bloomington and beat the Hoosiers 80-62. The loss was Indiana’s first at home this season, and the first loss Mike Woodson has suffered while wearing the Suit, for those who have followed that storyline. The physical and emotional hangover (and probably real hangover, depending on how hard they celebrated) was apparent today, as one might expect following a game like Thursday’s when Indiana played well above its talent level to beat the Boilermakers.
Here’s Three Things:
Michigan could not miss
Coming into this game, Michigan was shooting 33.6% from deep, which ranks 171st among men’s Division I teams. Defensively, Indiana was holding opponents to 29.7% from three point range, good for 35th in the country. Tonight, they hit 64.7% of their threes, on 11 of 17 from beyond the arc. Hunter Dickinson tied his career high with three and Caleb Houstan, the 11th best prospect in last year’s recruiting class, hit five of his own as part of a career-best performance in points (19) and three-point shooting.
Almost all of Michigan’s made threes today were beyond uncontested due to some of the worst three point defense Indiana has played under Mike Woodson. It felt like most of Michigan’s possessions ended with multiple Indiana players scrambling to recover after their initial rotation and the Hoosiers really struggled to defend ball-screens today, so the defense was constantly in recovery mode. It wasn’t pretty.
It’s probably good to remember that Michigan was ranked No. 6 in the preseason, and they figured to start playing closer to that projection at some point this season. Indiana’s sloppy defense certainly made it easier to find their stride, but they still have a chance to finish the season strong and make this loss look a bit better for Indiana’s tournament resume.
Mike Woodson might need to make some changes
After Thursday’s game, I promised that I would discuss Miller Kopp’s continued presence in the starting lineup after the next loss. Today is that day. Kopp played 19 minutes today and hit both of his shots, one from three, so it wasn’t necessarily his worst performance. Given his defensive limitations though, it’s confusing that he both gets the minutes he does and that he gets so few looks in those minutes.
He’s still Indiana’s second-best three point shooter, percentage-wise, which makes him extremely valuable for an Indiana team that still struggles in that department (they shot 26.3% from three tonight). He also has a career’s worth of Big Ten basketball experience, another area of need for Indiana. From that standpoint, the fact that he’s third in the team in minutes does make some sense. On the other hand, he’s had eight games of attempting fewer than three threes. Rob Phinisee, in 100 fewer minutes, has only four fewer three point attempts on the season.
Kopp doesn’t necessarily need to be benched, but if Woodson wants to keep playing him for so many minutes, he should probably start drawing up more plays for him. Over the last few games, we’ve seen Woodson draw up more plays for Parker Stewart to get open looks and they’ve been tremendously successful. Woodson could try something similar with Kopp, whose 13.9% of possessions used rate is currently better than only Stewart and Anthony Leal.
There’s plenty of season left
With the way Indiana has struggled to build momentum across games over the last few seasons, it’s understandable that today’s loss would be especially concerning. Wednesday’s game against Penn State certainly looms a bit larger now, but Kenpom gives Indiana a 74% chance of victory and even favors them in next Saturday’s road game against Maryland. Thanks to an easier non-conference schedule, the Hoosiers already have 14 wins and appear to be on pace to hit the 20-win mark before the Big Ten Tournament.
Both Thursday’s and today’s games were probably anomalous for Indiana in terms of what we can expect to see on a night-to-night basis. It’s unlikely that Rob Phinisee will go for 20 every game, but equally unlikely that Indiana’s defense allows another 64.7% three point shooting night. Losing to Michigan always sucks and Indiana probably should have been ranked had it been able to win today. At the end of the day though, this win should not kill Indiana’s postseason aspirations.
For all of my fellow Michigan Haters out there, I hope you were able to see Tom Brady lose to the Rams after the Indiana game today.