What to Expect: Michigan

  • 03/07/2014 2:23 pm in

Indiana closes out the regular season with a trip to Michigan, which clinched its first outright Big Ten championship since 1986 on Tuesday with a relentless beatdown of Illinois in Champaign. The Wolverines are 22-7 overall, 15-3 in the conference and are ranked No. 12 in the latest Associated Press top 25 poll.

The game will be broadcast at 6 p.m. ET on ESPN and on the IU radio network:

As I wrote recently in the premium forum, Indiana’s up and down season can be summed up perfectly by this fact:ย The Hoosiers are 4-1 against Michigan, Iowa, Wisconsin and Ohio State and 2-4 against Penn State, Northwestern and Nebraska.

At their best, Indiana can play with anyone in the conference and at its worst, it can lose at home to Penn State and Northwestern. Chalk it up to youth, turnovers, poor shooting and offensive play, an inability to close out second half leads or a variety of other theories that have been tossed around throughout the season, but 30 games in, Indiana has been defined by inconsistency.

Saturday’s opponent Michigan, which Indiana has beaten four of its last five tries, will be looking to avenge its first conference loss back in early February and a painful home loss a season ago that cost the Wolverines (and two other teams) a shared Big Ten title with the Hoosiers. So while it may seem like there isn’t as much to play for on both sides after Michigan wrapped up the Big Ten title earlier in the week and the Hoosiers saw their at-large hopes fade away with Wednesday’s loss to Nebraska, the revenge factor could certainly be prevalent.

PERSONNEL

Michigan’s season looked to be heading in the wrong direction after preseason All-American Mitch McGary was ruled out indefinitely with a back injury following the Stanford game (he didn’t play) on Dec. 21, but the Wolverines responded by reeling off 10 straight wins before falling 63-52 in Bloomington on Feb. 2.

In fact, there was little drama in the Big Ten race this season because Michigan was the best team from start to finish. While McGary and Glenn Robinson were the recipients of much of the preseason praise, sophomore Nik Stauskas is the engine that makes the Wolverines go. He’ll be the Big Ten player of the year when the awards are announced next week and for good reason: He’s averaging 16.8 points with an effective field goal percentage of 60.5 in Big Ten games. Stauskas has never played particularly well against Indiana, but he’s been a nightmare for the rest of the conference.

Sophomore Caris LeVert isn’t given the recognition nationally that he deserves, but his 13.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game in league play all rank second on the team. His emergence has been a major storyline in Michigan’s run to the league title. Freshman Zak Irvin plays behind LeVert and Stauskas and can fill it up from the perimeter (43.1 percent in Big Ten games on 3s).

It’s been a bit of a disappointing sophomore season for Glenn Robinson III, who probably cost himself a lot of money by choosing to return to school when he was likely to be a mid-first round NBA draft pick last June. Robinson III has yet to develop a consistent perimeter game (21.4 percent on 3s in Big Ten games) and given his athleticism, there’s really no reason that he should be fourth on Michigan in total rebounds in league play.

Freshman point guard Derrick Walton has started 16 of 17 conference games and is making 45.5 percent of his 3s and 80 percent of his free throws with an assist to turnover ratio of more than 2-to-1. Sophomore Spike Albrecht serves as his backup and is hitting 37 percent of his 3s in Big Ten games. More than 67 percent of Albrecht’s shot attempts come from behind the 3-point line.

Up front, senior Jordan Morgan and junior Jon Horford have filled in admirably in McGary’s absence. Morgan’s stats have never been gaudy, but he’s a solid defender and rebounder (19.5 DR% in Big Ten). Morgan is making 71.4 percent of his 2s in league play. Horford is the Big Ten’s best defensive rebounder from a percentage standpoint (27.1) and like Morgan, makes the most of his limited offensive opportunities (68 percent on 2s).

TEMPO-FREE PREVIEW

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Indiana won the first meeting largely because it shut down an offense that has otherwise dominated the Big Ten. Michigan managed just .95 points per possession in Bloomington and an effective field goal percentage of 43.3. Both are season lows for the Wolverines in league play.

The shooting performance of Yogi Ferrell, who hit seven of his eight attempts from 3-point range and finished with 27 points, was also a major factor. Since neither performance will likely be repeated, Indiana is going to have to shoot as well as it can and avoid turning it over anywhere near it’s average in conference play (21.8 percent) to stay close.

Michigan’s offense is on fire as of late as the Wolverines have posted the following points per possession totals over their last four games (all wins): 1.29 against Michigan State, 1.11 against Purdue, 1.11 against Minnesota and 1.34 against Illinois.

WHAT IT COMES DOWN TO

You never truly know what to expect from Indiana, but the computers are fairly certain that Saturday could be one-sided. The Pomeroy projection likes the Wolverines by 12 with just a 12 percent chance of an IU victory. Sagarin is even more bullish on Michigan, with that model installing the Wolverines as a 12.5-point favorite.

Saturday’s game could be the first meeting between the two teams in less than a week as all signs pointing to Indiana ending up in the 8-9 game of the Big Ten tournament and Michigan already wrapping up the No. 1 seed for next week in Indianapolis.

Despite its recent dominance of the series, Indiana, which only has two Big Ten road wins to its name this season, will need to play a near perfect game to go into Ann Arbor and capture its eighth conference win and grab momentum heading into the conference tournament.

Filed to:

  • And_One

    And One anticipates a savage beat down.

  • SCHoosier

    Coaches came up with a great defensive plan to deny Stauskas last game..I expect Coach B will have something up his sleeve to prevent that this go round.. Not sure Yogi has enuff energy left …give the compacted schedule and his ironman role to make that work any way. Wish for the best..it’s UM senior day which should fire them up even though the title is theirs.. Or..as one player was quoted this week..”To get fired up all we have to do is watch that final shot.. by Morgan last year.. fall off the rim. ” I suspect the Wolves think they owe the Hoosiers a whoppin’. Let’s hope they are a bit distracted by their tournament seeding/potential. Tough timing and venue for IU.

  • CreamandCrimson

    The result is largely irrelevant…a win could improve Big Ten Tournament seeding for us but I don’t really think it matters who we play in Indianapolis. We are just as likely to beat or lose to the 9 seed as we are to beat or lose to the 6 seed. That being said, I will be watching and cheering like always because I’m a sucker for punishment.

    Win or lose, go Hoosiers.

  • Ole Man

    Took the words out of my keyboard ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Steve Fischer

    What to expect? Either we are blown out all game long or we get a lead and blow it. I expect Crean to take no responsibility for the loss. I expect some of the players who we claimed were improving because they had a good game or two – to revert back to hopeless.

  • Blair McKee

    I expect two savage beatdowns. One by the UM team on the court, over IU, and one by us after the game, on TC.

  • phaluska

    What? I think Michigan should at least keep it close? Ha Ha Just kidding. Expect IU to get pummeled….

  • Blair McKee

    Absolutely

  • SCHoosier

    To your “meaningless”.point…if NV isn’t ready to go..or his marginal at best..keep him out of this game and maybe have him for a B-10 tourney effort.

  • dwdkc

    Gut check time after that deflating loss. This team has responded well in these situations before however. I just want to see a solid effort and well played game. Really more concerned about how they finish as a springboard to next year.

  • Hoosier Hall

    Really don’t know what to expect from these Hoosiers. We will probably win this one (inexplicably) which won’t really matter. At this point, a win would save a little face and be a nice road win against a ranked team. It won’t have any bearing on our NCAA tournament hopes and our seeding in the Big 10 tourney is really of no importance either. We need to win the conference tournament and we will have to play pretty much the same teams no matter where we are seeded. Plus, we have lost to every lower seeded team in the conference. I just hope we find some magic, maybe it will come from the new uniforms! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Alford Bailey

    Marion lost in the sectional. Can we pick JBJ up on the way to Michigan?

  • JWaltFTW

    The negativity and pessimism in some of these posts is truly pathetic. Predicting beatdowns and situations where no matter what happens we will lose? I understand that there is realism, but stop acting fairweather and at least provide some analysis to why you think IU will lose. “We lost last game so now our season is over” has been the trend of many ITH commenters, and think we’ve all had enough of it.

    So not to be a hypocrite, I will provide why I believe we will win.

    I believe a fire will be sparked in Sheehey, and he dominates the mid-range game. Whether or not NV plays, we win the rebounding game. Yogi will not be able to guard Stauskas like he did last game, providing that Coach Beilein has a gameplan to get Stauskas free. Essentially, let Stauskas beat us, not Michigan.

  • And One

    Sounds like a plan. I really hope you’re right.
    And hey, I’m no fair weather fan, I just have a bad feeling about this one. Nothing scientific, just afraid that our guys are susceptible to getting steamrolled by a real good team on their home court on senior night. Could lightning strike twice, and they pull it off? Of course. But I stand by my prediction, from a dedicated, passionate fan of Hoosier hoops: it’s gonna be tough to watch.

  • RonB

    Maybe I can give you a coach’s view since I was one for many,many years. I do not want you to think I am some Crean lover trying to figure out all his subbing during a game but the word HOT to most fans means scoring. For Coaches Hot means a whole lot more than making a shot. I used a version of Coach Knight’s motion offense which was popular when I coached. Today it is the dribble drive and pick and roll offense but the same things are still important.
    A hot player for me was one who defended well, set good picks, moved the ball and passed well, followed the game plan we worked on before the game, good shot selection, being unselfish, weak side defense, lack of turnovers, rebounding, assists, no hot dogging and then scoring the ball within the offense and game plan. If a player went out on his own and made a shot I pulled him. We talked about what he did wrong or an assistance coach talked to him and then he went back into the game. I lost some games early in the season bending their will into a TEAM. I know this is over used but there is no I in team.
    That said, this IU team has taken much longer than normal understanding what it takes to win as a team and I know that is hard on the Coaches and Players. Remember however, that they had some great wins recently and had started to turn the corner. They beat ranked teams without Noah. He could have been a big difference in the last game however NEB. is for real. I have not heard how Noah is but his return could help IU surprise some teams. I am also with u on some of the subbing makes me wonder but only the Coaches no why and it is not all about just making a basket. Watch the scorers table. Sometimes Coach sends a sub down there and before the new player gets in the one he is subbing for makes a good play. Also Yogi does not have a good back up point guard and he is playing way too many minutes. Tired legs will throw your shots off and you usually shoot the ball short even an air ball. Sorry I did not intend for this to be so long.
    He could have made a big difference in the last game.

  • Alford Bailey

    Gotta love these “Holier than thou”/ “I’m a better fan than you” comments. Here’s your analysis. Pomeroy and Sagarin have UM + 12 points. IU may be without NV again. Its UM senior night. Finally UM is just due to win against us. This game doesn’t mean much. At this point get NV healthy, prepare for Illinois and then maybe a rematch with Michigan.

  • JWaltFTW

    Please don’t label me so hastily, as that was not at all the point I was trying to make. Also, by saying that they’re “due” to beat us isn’t a rational statement at all. Since we’ve beaten them a lot recently that just gives them some unknown edge? No, it means we have a gameplan for Michigan that works.

    I completely disagree that this game doesn’t mean much. Beating the conference champs on the road would be a HUGE confidence booster. Downplaying a game just because you think we’ll lose is being unfair. I firmly believe every game counts. Also last I checked spreads don’t indicate the final score, teams do.

  • HoosierGrampy

    Whether NV plays or not, HMP, DD and TW are capable of yeomen efforts on the boards. If these 3 don’t see significant time on the court, it’ll be 1 and done. I’d really like to see what TW, WS, YF, NV(DD) & HMP could do on the court for some extended playing time…I’m thinking W all the way.

  • I would really be shocked if we even come close in this one. I would be elated if we won, but my take is.. We’re going to lose today and then drop the first one in the B1G Tourney.. and then not get an invite to even the NIT. So if Noah doesn’t play today and doesn’t play again next week in the B1G.. There’s a distinct possibility we may not see him in an Hoosier uniform again. I hope that’s not the case, but the positivity has been taken out of me. I love these guys and like our potential.
    Think that potential would be a lot better if Noah stays, but even if he goes.. I think we will be a much better team than this year.
    It just seems like every time this year that I’ve thought we’re going on a roll.. they come up with another ‘stnker’ (to use an oft used phrase by Ole Man) of a game.
    Oh, I still want them to win and will be so nervous I will have trouble watching, but I just don’t think we have it this year. As Yogi puts’ it we lost our ‘Mojo’.. but I question whether they really ever had it. So many games, that turnovers have killed us and if we haven’t solve that by this point in the season, we aint goin’ to. Just my opinion, but I think this one is pretty much over for us.

  • Someone on here equated it to.. almost like being a Cub fan this year.. So true. Still love these guys though. I know they want to win as badly as we want them to. Probably even more, so imagine how frustrating this season has ben for them Sad, very sad.
    Go Hoosiers! Gosh I would love to see a ‘w’ today.

  • Gotta agree with you on that one. The fans on here, and sometimes I even question whether they are true fans.. will be brutal.
    But in fact, I also expect after this loss.. another one in the first game of the B1G Tourney. Just don’t think anything else is going to happen. I hope and pray I’m wrong.. but that’s just my take on it.

  • Earlier John, I would have never agreed with you. I don’t think he is a bad as some on here try to make him.. and he has done some really good things in games.. But he does leave me scratching my head over his substitution patterns. After watching him for these five years or so.. really don’t think that part is going to change. I wish it would.. but I don’t think it ever will. And I do think that is causing him to not be nearly as good of a coach as he could be. He certainly has some good points about him, but that one thing, I have come to believe is a very big detriment.

  • Gosh I hope you’re right.. But I just fear the turnovers. I would be elated if we could keep those to under ten or close to that and pull the win.. But after some thirty games it still continues to haunt this team. I just don’t think we can play like that and win this one.

  • Alford Bailey

    Oh, just go ahead and rub it in why don’t ya!

  • RonB

    Ken, I know everyone on here talks about turnovers as our main reason for losing and while they have been bad they are not the main reason we lose. Look at the last 4 games. In the Wisc and Neb. games we lost but had just 10 turnovers in each game well below our yearly average. Then take the Ohio St. and Iowa games we win with 18 and 17 turnovers. Why? The real reason this team has struggled is shooting and scoring points. Shooting covers a multitude of errors. When we shoot decent we win. When we shoot poorly even with lower turnovers we lose. I am not saying turnovers don’t need fixed but what I am saying is this team needs some players who can put the ball in the basket most every game and we do not have that. Coach has some coming but unless some guys get hot we will have ups and downs for the rest of the year.

  • I guess I would have to agree with you, that good shooting will cover up a multitude of sins.. The point is however, if we’re turning the ball over at a rate of 18 or 19 per game (I’m not sure what our to rate really is), and it’s a 60 possession game, that means that roughly one third of the time we come down the floor, we do not get a shot that we could have had. Even if were only hitting 30% of our shots, that’s almost 6 baskets per game. Now no team or almost no team has zero turnovers. But if we reduced the turnovers to say a more manageable 6 or 8 that’s 12 more shots and maybe three more baskets..
    I know the real crux of the problem has been poor shooting and am thankful Coach. has some help on the way. I don’t have the stats to back it up, but I also think one of our problems has been timely shooting. It seems like when we’ve really needed to score.. maybe late in games, to retake the lead, or just to hold onto the lead. the shots just won’t fall. Look at the Penn State game.. the thing that tightened it up initially at the end, was we brought the ball down two or three times, failed to connect.. then the turnovers started.. to where we couldn’t even inbound the ball to even get a shot. Then Yogi came down with yet another chance to win it.. and he really didn’t get off a very good shot, but it didn’t go in. I would have bet good money that it wasn’t going to.. Because nearly every time we’ve had that scenario, we’ve failed to make the shot. Not sure if it’s a confidence factor, or what, but we just do not seem to be able to consistently score when it’s really crunch time. I love this team, I just wish we’d have had more success this year. I do believe they all want to win.. and for the most part have played very hard. Just not winning. Sorry this got so long.

  • SCHoosier

    If nothing else the NIT needs some teams that will draw a TV audience and sell out their arena…Indiana fills that bill. I hope NV sits out of this meaningless game..and tries to be ready for the b-10 tourney.

  • Bruce

    I am a huge fan but how anyone can marvel at ctc in game coaching is beyond me. We comment because we care and IU fans in general know the game of bb

  • I think CTC has had some good games, re: ‘in game coaching’.. and he definitely has had some bad ones. I really do feel though, that when he has a great game and we pull a big upset, he doesn’t get the accolades he deserves. That is why I say ‘some fans’. Not all fans are like that, but I think you’d have to agree he doesn’t receive the love after a big win, is proportion to the hate, after a bad loss. .I do question his substitution patterns in many games though.. Just don’t see it sometimes..