What to Expect: Michigan

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Photo by Dustin Johnson/UMHoops

Indiana returns to Assembly Hall on Saturday night fresh off a 97-60 romp of Purdue at Mackey Arena, the largest home loss ever for the Boilermakers. The No. 3 Hoosiers will take Branch McCracken Court opposite No. 1 Michigan and first place in the Big Ten will be on the line.

The game will be broadcast on ESPN at 9:00 p.m with Dan Shulman and Dick Vitale on the call.

When Indiana’s schedule was released early last fall, this game was immediately circled on calendars across Hoosier nation. A big part of the hype was the Worldwide Leader bringing College GameDay to Bloomington for the first time since 2008, but there was also a sense that this matchup could have major implications in the race for the Big Ten title. It turns out those prognostications were accurate as John Beilein will bring the Wolverines, No. 1 in the country and 7-1 in the conference, to meet the Hoosiers, also 7-1 in the league and No. 3 in the country.

To this point in the season, this is the biggest game in all of college hoops. That’s true not only because of the primetime national stage, but because the winner will get a leg up in the race to win the toughest conference.

PERSONNEL

Beilein has made a coaching career out of doing more with less, but this year in Ann Arbor, he’s assembled a talented roster that you can stack up with any in the country. Gone are Indiana natives Stu Douglass and Zack Novak, but reinforcements have arrived in the form of a freshman class that’s performed as well as any in the Big Ten. The Wolverines are the Big Ten’s youngest team and only nine teams in the country have less experience. What the Wolverines do have in experience, though, is what separates this group from just a young team to a national title contender.

It starts with guard Trey Burke, the sophomore point guard who is receiving serious and warranted consideration for national player of the year. Burke flirted with the idea of jumping to the NBA last spring, but made a smart decision to return to Ann Arbor and it’s paying major dividends for the Wolverines. One of the best ball screen guards in the land, Burke is most effective when he can penetrate to the middle of the floor and either finish plays or create opportunities for his teammates. He leads four Wolverines in double figures with 17.9 points per game and also averages a Big Ten best 7.1 assists. What sets Burke apart is the efficiency at which he operates. He’s using more than 28 percent of Michigan’s possessions (only two Big Ten players use more) and has an effective field goal percentage of 56.2 and an assist rate of 39.9.

Out on the wings are two more weapons for Michigan in junior Tim Hardaway Jr. and freshman Nik Stauskas. Hardaway Jr. is the team’s second leading scorer at 15.5 points per game and is hitting 41.1 percent of his threes. While Hardaway can be streaky at times from distance, he’s a guy that must be marked at all times because he can really carry Michigan if he gets going from deep. Stauskas is even more effective from distance (49.5 percent), but has cooled off in Big Ten play where he’s been just 37.5 percent from deep. Like Burke, Stauskas is very effective at scoring off the ball screen with 1.46 points per possession in those situations. Both guys are large beneficiaries of Burke’s prowess as a playmaker, but can also make plays off the dribble and get to the basket.

Beilein has long been a fan of utilizing an undersized four and this year that responsibility falls on Glenn Robinson III, a freshman from Lake Central and the son of former Purdue great Glenn Robinson. Robinson is shooting 66.9 percent on twos and is one of the more explosive players around the rim in the country, where he’s finishing 77 percent of his attempts. He’s also a 40 percent 3-point shooter and is another guy that IU can’t afford to lose in the halfcourt.

The five position is essentially a platoon between junior Jordan Morgan, freshman Mitch McGary and junior Jon Horford. Morgan’s status is somewhat up in the air as he suffered a sprained ankle in Michigan’s win over Illinois and missed Wednesday’s game with Northwestern. If Morgan can go, his ability to defend the post without fouling (2.6 fouls called per 40 minutes) and gobble up defensive rebounds (19.1 DR%) are key. Morgan isn’t much of a scorer, but his blue collar work ethic down low is an underrated piece of Michigan’s success. Horford, who has battled injuries, could be thrust into a larger role once again if Morgan can’t play and he too is effective on the defensive glass. McGary has the most upside of the three. He averages a team-high 6.0 rebounds and boasts a 4.7 block percentage.

Two other guys you can expect to see for five to ten minutes are freshmen Caris Levert and Spike Albrecht. Levert will fill in for Hardaway Jr. or Stauskas on the wing and can knock down an occasional three (9-of-21). Albrecht, a little recruited point guard originally from Crown Point, will spell Burke in what little time he’ll spend on the bench barring foul trouble.

POMEROY PREVIEW

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The two best offenses in the Big Ten have a chance to produce what should be one of the most entertaining games of the season. Both teams shoot the ball at ridiculously efficient clips: The Wolverines are shooting 56.6 percent on twos and 39.7 percent on threes while the Hoosiers are 53.6 percent on twos and 43.2 percent on threes.

That said, here are a few key areas that will likely decide the outcome:

· Rebounding: Indiana’s offensive rebounding has been pivotal when the Hoosiers are operating at peak efficiency on offense and one of Michigan’s major strengths is keeping teams off the offensive glass. If shots aren’t following from the outside for IU and Michigan limits second chance points, that could quickly swing the pendulum in favor of the Wolverines.

· Free throws: Indiana’s ability to draw fouls and get to the line is a major reason why this team has a chance to go very deep into March and early April. The Wolverines draw very few fouls themselves, but their opponents are going to the line at a lower rate than any team in the country. Something has to give here, right?

· Can Indiana muster up stops? Tom Crean has easily his best defensive team in his tenure at Indiana, but this group has yet to defend an offensive juggernaut like Michigan. The Wolverines have some clear size advantages on the perimeter with Stauskas and Hardaway Jr., so it’ll be interesting to see how Beilein tries to exploit IU’s smaller backcourt of Jordan Hulls and Yogi Ferrell and how quickly Crean deploys Remy Abell and Will Sheehey off the bench. Perhaps IU’s strategy of not doubling the post in West Lafayette was a foreshadowing of what we’ll see on Saturday night.

WHAT IT COMES DOWN TO

All eyes will be on Bloomington on Saturday night and for good reason. Not only is the No. 1 team coming to town, this game, unlike the Kentucky meeting last season, actually has implications for the league title that both teams desperately covet.

These are two dynamic offenses with NBA talent clashing on the big stage, but Indiana’s frontcourt play has a chance to give the Hoosiers a little bit of separation. As maligned as Christian Watford has been at times, he’s got size and experience on Robinson III and typically plays very well against the Wolverines (25 points in last year’s game at Assembly Hall). Cody Zeller also figures to get a steady diet of touches in the post and depending on Morgan’s status, this is another matchup IU could look to exploit.

Defensively, expect Indiana to mix zone and man-to-man. As UMHoops points out, IU has actually been more effective in zone. The Hoosiers are playing zone roughly 18.8 percent of the time and allowing 0.69 points per possession compared to man-to-man at 81.20 percent/0.75 points per possession.

Pomeroy likes Indiana to win, 76-70, with a 68 percent chance of the Hoosiers sitting on top of the Big Ten standings come the final buzzer.

All tempo-free stats via KenPom.com.

  • HostileHoosier

    Yogi on Berke, Vick on Hardaway and Watford on Glen! I think Hulls will guard Stauskus and Crean wants him to be the go to man for the 10S and under shot. I have no dout that Zeller will own the paint and do what zeller does best draw fouls and get to the freethrow line. I also think our bench is too much for UM. If Shehee playes his game and Able gives some I think this is a 10 point game at the final tally.
    I think Yogi is going to have his best game as a Hoosier in this 1!

  • IUMIKE1

    Agree, CZ, has seemed to struggle somewhat defensively the last two games. Not that I know more about bball than CTC but I sure would like to jsut see what happens if he fronts his man more.

  • HostileHoosier

    Man I think we must think alike I dont see this as being the game everyone has been talking about. As in my post I think Yogi shows what he is all about in this game!

  • HostileHoosier

    WOW ITH must be getting hit pretty hard atm lol I cant even watch the vids they have posted with Crean and players talking about UM.

  • IUMIKE1

    Good point out on the reverse on the high ball screen. Seen him doing that the other night & even remarked to the person watching with me how good at it Burke was and that I wondered why more players didn’t do that, especially players that excel at some of the same aspects that Burke does. A player that can do this effectively can create a lot of options for himself as well as his team mates.

  • IUMIKE1

    Good point out on the reverse on the high ball screen. Seen him doing that the other night & even remarked to the person watching with me how good at it Burke was and that I wondered why more players didn’t do that, especially players that excel at some of the same aspects that Burke does. A player that can do this effectively can create a lot of options for himself as well as his team mates.

  • IUMIKE1

    Good idea. Hope Crean or somebody on his staff is reading all of this cause the ITH’ers have come up with more ideas that might be needed or work than even a caffeinated CTC can come up with, lol. And that, as they say, is quite the statement in and of itself.

  • IUMIKE1

    I also feel like that part of his game is underrated, thus my reply to your earlier post. Wanted to include that in my earlier post but figured if I did my fellow ITH’ers would be using the R word (rambling) when reading it.

  • http://www.babytown.com/ OceanArcher

    I’m so tired of “experts” comparing Oladipo’s defensive prowess to Aaron Craft. WTF? Seriously? Do these people even watch the games? Craft reminds me a little of Dane Fife (who makes me sick every time I see him on the MSU sidelines). Really good defender, but Dipo is just on another level. No one in NCAA causes havoc like he does.

  • http://www.babytown.com/ OceanArcher

    I hope that’s the case, but Michigan overall doesn’t foul much. Then again, they’ve never played against an offense like IU

  • wesmont

    Well said,I like your analysis.

  • PDXHoosier

    against VCU last year he took out Hulls and played Remy instead. I think if we really need to, he will sit Jordy. I think we can win with him on the floor, though

  • WatchingYogi_atYogis

    That or he chooses to start his best offensive lineup and (sigh) the strategy evades you.

  • Geoff_85

    We’re agreeing too much lately for me to be able to properly process whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing. Has to be a good thing though, right?

  • Geoff_85

    It’s not so much of a quandry with Zeller in the middle. I’m well aware of Stauskas’ ability to get to the basket, and I noted that in a comment prior to this thread, but again, the X-factor in this case is Zeller. He has to stay out of foul trouble, though. I agree that man defense is the way to go, and I do believe that’s what they’ll play.

  • Geoff_85

    Careful Yogi, he’s thick.

  • Geoff_85

    Careful Yogi, he’s thick.

  • WatchingYogi_atYogis

    The one thing the zone could actually do though is give Michigan a different look with their pick and roll game. The Timberwolves tried that to slow down the Lakers last night and it did work for awhile. I imagine we will at least start out seeing how Yogi can defend Burke and the ball screens he gets and let’s just hope that goes well enough that Crean doesn’t have to get too creative. I could see them taking Zeller out of the middle with regularity by using his man to screen for Burke. Zeller will need to do a good job defending the pick and roll without fouling and getting back into a position to help if Burke kicks it to the wing out of it.

  • SCHoosier

    If Yogi doesn’t try and get too macho with this big match-up..he will do fine. Can not “shut down” Burke..u can slow him down and make him rush shots. Yogi does that..we’re good. We MUST defend the 3 in half court and transition. If our offense is good..UM will have its hands full controlling Wat and Zeller down low.

  • SCHoosier

    If we go zone at all..we could end up 9 points down in a hurry. I just don’t think we cover the wings/corners well enuff for their shooters not to get open shots. Of course if UM starts clanging the 3 (which they can but won’t for long) a zone could give us a short respite from foul trouble. Somebody ought to be isolating a camera on VO-TH..THAT is gonna be something to see.

  • HoosierPete

    Will be at Joe’s in Chicago for this one!! Can’t wait. I think the key for IU tonight is to make this game as miserable for Burke as possible. Do not let him drive to the rack. Make him a jump shooter, which he is good, but it’s a lower percentage shot. Look at what IU did to Appling. By taking him out of the game, it forced MSU off its stride and they never really recovered, despite their strong interior play. Michigan doesn’t have a great interior game. That could be the ultimate difference, with Zeller, C-Wat, and co. I also think Watford is the X-factor tonight on both ends of the floor. Does he guard Burke for a while? Can he hit shots early? He shows up in big games and I expect him to tonight.

    This game has the makings of a classic. With Assembly Hall rocking, I expect IU to win 78-72.

  • HoosierPete

    And I am not sure UM has an answer for Zeller. I expect a dominant performance out of Zeller tonight. Really like how IU has bounced back from the loss to Wisconsin. Not out of the woods yet, but that trouncing of Purdue was beautiful, wasn’t it?

  • marcusgresham

    Maybe the rarely used 3-2?

  • marcusgresham

    Appling was also in foul trouble. He had a miserable night in all regards.

  • HannerTime Hoosier

    ALEX,
    What recruits will be @ the game?
    Thx

  • HannerTime Hoosier

    ALEX,
    What recruits will be @ the game?
    Thx

  • HannerTime Hoosier

    What flavor is the Kool-Aid today?! Lmao. You actually think Jordy should start against UM’s impressive/tall/athletic starting 5? Classic! Well, we will see what happens, but remember CTC benched Jordy against VCU for a victory last year. Just sayin’ …

  • WatchingYogi_atYogis

    Congratulations you’re the 10,000th post to use the Kool-Aid metaphor, lol. And the Crean supporters get accused of a follow-the-leader mentality? If only Jordy would have played less we could have beat Michigan State, right? The nice thing is that we will see what happens. And I respect your opinion, it’s shared by many on here. It’s really just your tone that is absurd. Your confidence in the face of the results indicates that you might be the one unable to critically analyze your unwavering opinion of Hulls. Is it crazy to follow if Crean does catch the comet and takes us to the promise land? And yes, I know I am confusing my mass suicides.

    Maybe I should have just said “Cherry”. Because the day is going to be stained Crimson.

  • HOOSIERS135

    As said in the other comment, we don’t know if they have an answer for CZ. Well I don’t know if they have an answer for AH! Place will be nuts, and they haven’t played in an environment like this before. Last year they played here in Btown before us students came back. None of them have ever seen AH get as crazy as it can be. We’ll see what happens.

  • HoosierPete

    I miss Assembly Hall! Simply the best place to watch a game in the US — maybe anywhere. It is basketball and no, last year, UM didn’t have the IU students to contend with. In fact, CTC had to beg people not to sell their tickets. Game was Jan. 3 or something like that. No one was in town. … This will be different. Watching on TV tonight, I don’t want to hear Dick Vitale and Dan Schulman — that’s how loud I hope it is!!

  • iumick22

    Way to beat Michigan which no team has tried yet and how to do it with Jordy on the floor. We had plenty of time to see this game coming and should have worked on the diamond and one defense for about Five minutes a practice up to this point.
    At this point we have had about 70 practices so we could have practiced this D for 350 minutes,, more than enough time to have it perfected. Here’s hoe you would have it set up. Yogi hounding Burke wherever he goes. Cody stationed out at between the top of the key and the free throw line. Oladipo on the same side free throw line extended on the same side as Robinson, Hardaway (strong side) Watford on the other side. Jordy down under the basket. Cody is quick and long enough that he can wreak havoc way out top. Jordy is fast enough to get outside the charging arc if they ever get the ball down low and just tries to draw charges. We would always have a guy on their comfortable three point zones and usually be able to keep a hand in the face of the shooter and Yogi, Cody combination out top would tootle up Burke. You do this gimmick D three out of five or six possessions when advantageous, after a made field goal for instance, but mix it up for confusion, those freshman and sophomores wouldn’t know what hit them.

  • jermhoosierfan

    The Purdue game, I think, turned into a statement game for Michigan to look at.

  • HannerTime Hoosier

    My tone may be based on seeing players blow by him consistently that are not as talented as the Wolverines. Jim jones special on the History channel this morning prompted me, but I have been using it as a point of levity for 2 years on this site. All in good fun.

  • yimyames

    Thats freakin’ awesome, good luck!

  • yimyames

    I assume you may have a pint of bourbon in your waistband also? haha

  • yimyames

    If we really do have are crap together, Michigan is in big trouble.

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