What to Expect: Michigan

  • 02/06/2015 4:32 pm in

Indiana returns to Assembly Hall on Sunday for a matinee matchup with Michigan. The Wolverines are 13-10 overall and 6-5 in conference play following a 72-54 loss to Iowa on Thursday night.

The game will be broadcast on CBS at 1 p.m. with Kevin Harlan and Clark Kellogg on the call:

No team in the Big Ten has been decimated by injuries this season like the Michigan Wolverines. After a run to the national championship game in 2013 and a trip to the Elite Eight in 2014, some regression was bound to happen in Ann Arbor. That’s to be expected when, over the course of two years, you lose five players via early entry to the NBA.

But no one could have predicted the injuries that have completely derailed this Michigan club.

Junior Caris LeVert, a preseason first team All-Big Ten selection, is out for the season. Sophomore point guard Derrick Walton has battled a foot injury for most of the season, has missed three straight games and is unlikely to play anytime soon. Junior Spike Albrecht has a hip injury that he has decided to play through. Freshman D.J. Wilson has a knee injury that will force him to take a medical redshirt. Other Wolverines have missed time with various illnesses.

Michigan’s NCAA tournament hopes, which were hanging by a thread thanks to a 6-4 start in league play, were possibly put to rest on Thursday as the Wolverines suffered their worst home loss in five seasons. The next stop for Michigan? Assembly Hall, a building that hasn’t been kind in recent years as IU has won the last five series meetings in Bloomington.

MEET THE WOLVERINES

Without LeVert and Walton to anchor his backcourt, John Beilein has forced to go deep into his bench for some unexpected lineups. The Wolverines started the season with a lineup of Walton, LeVert, Zak Irvin, Kameron Chatman and Mark Donnal and only Irvin remains in the lineup Michigan has used the past three games.

The current lineup consists of Irvin, 2013 Final Four hero Albrecht and three freshmen – Ricky Doyle, Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and Aubrey Dawkins.

Irvin (pictured), the Indiana Mr. Basketball in 2013 at Hamilton Southeastern, is averaging 11 points in Big Ten games, but is making just 36.2 percent of his 2s and 31.7 percent of his 3s. In Beilein’s system, Irvin and Dawkins share the 3 and 4 spots with Abdur-Rahkman and Albrecht as the guards.

The 6-foot-6 Dawkins, the son of Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins, is hitting a team-best 51.7 percent of his 3s in Big Ten play and is coming off a 16-point performance against Iowa. An under recruited spring signee, Dawkins is a promising freshman who should only improve with experience.

Abdur-Rakhman, another late signee, is a solid slasher who is making 60.6 percent of his 2s in league play and is averaging 14.5 points over his last two. He’s paired in the backcourt with Albrecht, who is a solid distributor (24.4 percent assist rate), but has struggled from deep in Big Ten play (30.8 percent on 3s).

Walk-on Andrew Dakich will likely see minutes in the backup point guard role.

The frontcourt picture is currently headlined by Doyle, who is a 6-foot-9 freshman and senior Max Bielfeldt, a 6-foot-7 post player who also likes to step out. Doyle has really struggled in conference play as he’s averaged just 2.2 rebounds and 4.9 points in about 18 minutes per game. Bielfeldt is making close to 55 percent of his 2s in Big Ten play and can step out for the occasional 3-pointer as well. He’s the team’s second leading rebounder in conference games at 4.2 per contest.

Freshman Chatman, a Jordan Brand All-Star and the highest rated member of Michigan’s 2014 recruiting class, has been a disappointment. The 6-foot-7 forward fell out of the lineup after two conference games and has an effective field goal percentage of just 34.9 for the season.

A LOOK AT THE NUMBERS

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This Michigan team is significantly worse offensively than the group that torched Big Ten opponents for 1.24 points per trip a season ago on its way to a 15-3 league record and comfortable outright Big Ten regular season crown. These Wolverines are ahead of only Rutgers and Nebraska in terms of offensive efficiency in league play and are making just 34.2 percent of their 3s and 44.2 percent of their 2s in conference games.

That said, Indiana’s defense has held only two of its 10 conference foes under one point per possession thus far, so Michigan may have some opportunities to find its offense.

Indiana, on paper, looks to have advantages on both the glass and in terms of getting to the foul line and while Michigan rarely turns it over (15.8 TO%), the Hoosiers aren’t far behind with a turnover percentage of 16.6.

In four Big Ten home games, Indiana is scoring 1.18 points per possession and Michigan just gave up 1.4 points per trip at home to Iowa.

WHAT IT COMES DOWN TO

The Pomeroy ratings favor Indiana by eight, with a 73 percent chance of a win and Sagarin’s model likes the Hoosiers by 7.5. Of IU’s eight remaining contests, this is the highest probability for a win, according to Pomeroy.

Given that it’s a nationally televised game on a weekend, the Assembly Hall crowd should be lively as Indiana looks for a seventh league win, which would match last season’s total, against an opponent that is depleted due to injuries and also on two fewer days of rest.

The Hoosiers also have injury issues, but Tom Crean sounded optimistic after Tuesday’s game that James Blackmon Jr. would have a chance to go by Sunday and with the return of Hanner Mosquera-Perea expected in the next 10 days, Indiana is hopeful that it’ll be able to meet the final portion of the schedule with a full complement of players available.

At 6-4 in Big Ten play, Indiana has exceeded expectations so far, but the Hoosiers must continue to take care of business at home to solidify their NCAA tournament hopes. A win Sunday over the Wolverines, who took Michigan State to overtime in East Lansing on Feb. 1, is the first step in the process.

(Photo: Dustin Johnson, UMHoops)

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  • Hoosierkamp

    100% must win game. No other way to put it

  • Tcuomo

    My hand is on the panic button. We lose this and I’m pushing it.

  • Hoosier Hall

    I figured Irvin would’ve blown up this season but it never materialized. Even without the injuries they were a terrible team. I know people frown on saying this but to me this is A MUST win to get back on track and not fall into the bubble conversation.

  • who’syourhoosier

    What is JBJ’s injury? From what I read it sounds like he won’t be playing in the next game. Am I correct in this?

  • drewmiller1

    We have five more home games, and 3 more away games. IU needs five wins to finish the regular season 21-7 with a very solid NCAA resume. We are favored in 7 games. This is an important game, and it would be
    fantastic to win this one, but let’s not panic yet. For example, if Blackman is not 100% ready to play, I would have no problem letting him heal and come back at full strength with Hanner against Minnesota on the 15th.

  • SCHoosier

    Rolled an ankle I believe.

  • Where did you read that? The article above says that “Tom Crean sounded optimistic after Tuesday’s game that James Blackmon Jr. would have a chance to go by Sunday”

  • who’syourhoosier

    I was just asking because I wasn’t sure. I wasn’t making a statement.

  • Sorry. I was just confused because Crean’s phrasing indicated the exact opposite to me, so I thought you had read an alternative and contradictory report.

  • No you did make a statement.. you said, “From what I read it sounds like he won’t be playing in the next game”… That statement indicates you read something that indicated he wouldn’t be playing.. Crean indicated after Tuesday’s game he hoped he would be able to go by Sunday.

  • And One

    Every game feels like a trap game with this team. All signs point to a win, but hell, I’m still worried. A double digit victory would go a long way toward mollifying this kind of unease in the weeks to come.
    Beat ’em like you should beat ’em, guys. That’s all I ask.

  • Zach

    Need to hold serve at home and get a W Sunday against a banged up squad. They got stomped by Iowa the other day so I think Michigan either comes out pissed and with a sense of urgency or they let the AH crowd get to them and fold. No in between. Hoping for another lights out shooting performance! Either way I’ll be sitting behind the basket (best tickets of the season!) and I may or may not be wearing my angry bird costume lol

  • Gregory Spera

    The masses did not take well to my suggestion that the Hoosiers are no longer playing above expectations. Said that they have only looked bad against other B1G teams they had no business beating anyway, especially on the road. (Which is a whole ‘nother can of worms, of course.) So, reassured that they aren’t REALLY slumping, and as this is a team that even the experts “expect” us to beat, I hope the Hoosiers share your sense of urgency.

  • ForeverIU

    It just occurred to me after seeing the picture above: the Iowa uniform stinks (almost as bad as PUke’s). It must be bringing them some very bad karma. LOL.

  • Tim Stoffel

    Everyone is going to have their own opinion but but this is def a MUST WIN….We have got to hold our home court for the rest of season. We need to come out and play like we know we can and get a convincing win that will hopefully set us back on track. Losing the last 3 out 4 was rough but we still are ahead of where almost everyone “projected” us to be. If we hold our home court and maybe steal another one on the road we are looking at a descent seed in the tourney. This team can out shoot anyone in the country and we all know tournament teams that can shoot can make a lot of noise. Never thought I would hear myself say this but I am really looking forward to having Hanner back. Hopefully he can help fix some of our defensive woes and with the emergence of CH and EH, we may still be really small still but having all 3 of them will def improve our frontcourt. Let’s Go Hoosiers!

  • InTheMtns

    It can’t be easy to have to wear those gawd-awful yellow shoes.

  • InTheMtns

    It is an important game, that’s for sure. I think the Hoosiers will be ready and willing on Sunday to artfully put this one in the win column. Go IU!!!

  • IUfanPurduePhD

    I thought this would be Irvin’s breakout year as well, but that’ll probably be next year.

  • sd chuck

    Hope the team shows up hungry for a win! Also hoping AH is alive and loud the whole game! A win here keeps us on track. The TW we need should be able to have a big game here, they are not that dominate inside.

  • SCHoosier

    Nice to see a match-up where the size difference doesn’t kill the Hoosiers going in. IU should be able to handle these guys. Iowa’s length and 2-3 zone really stopped UM in their tracks this past week. IU can’t let Irvin and Albrecht just catch and shoot open threes or they can score in buckets. Forcing them to shoot on the move is what has to happen..IU plays its game at home…we should see victory #17. Blow this one and all bets are off for the post-season.

  • Eastwood88_2

    IMO this is the easiest game on the schedule. They have no size issues for us. They don’t foul. They can’t match our quickness. Spike guarding yogi or jbj or Johnson should be a great advantage. 2/3 us? So be it, we will get inside and it will be a TW dunk fest. I want 80 points and a 20 point lead at some point. Due to injuries, this is the worst team in the bigten

  • TomJameson

    I too think it is a must win because it is a home game that we are supposed to win. We have to protect the home court, and this “should” be one of the easier teams to beat because we match up pretty well against them. Matter of fact, I think this might be a game where Holt can do a lot of damage. Holt and Hartman for that matter.

  • TomJameson

    Exactly. Semantics aside, it’s probably a day-to-day thing. I don’t believe the rolled ankle was serious, but we all know that they can ‘linger’. Nothing we want them to force. If he needs another day to prevent a ‘relapse’, then that’s something Coach and trainer will determine.

  • TomJameson

    If they start 3 freshmen that have never played in Assembly Hall, then they are in for a rude surprise. I look for a sell-out crowd. If anybody here is going to that game … give em hell!! lol

  • TomJameson

    I think the matchups are in our favor, mainly because of their lack of size to dominate the inside. TW could have a great game as well as Holt, Hartman, Yogi, JBJ, & RJ. The cutting should be there for the guards.

  • Yes, I definitely hope he’s good to go by tomorrow. It evidently was bad enough to not take a chance in Tuesday’s game.. But they aren’t calling it a ‘sprain’, so maybe it wasn’t that bad and they were just taking every precaution with it. I’m thinking we’ll need him against the Wolverines.. They looked pretty good against MSU a week ago and we’re going to have to really play well to win against them.

  • I really don’t feel like it’s a ‘trap’ game. Ok, so I’m guessing it’s just a question of semantics, but.. a ‘trap’ game is usually am adjective used when there is a possibility of one team overlooking the other one, because they have a future opponent they are thinking about, instead of the one ‘at hand’ and they are favored to win the ensuing game easily. First, in the B1G I don’t think IU is overlooking anyone, or assuming they are going to win easily, even when at home. Now if you’re just calling it a trap game, because you think we definitely could lose this one, even though we are going into it as a slight favorite, you are probably right. That is the case with any B1G game played this year. Even though the B1G may not be quite as strong as in some previous years, I think it is a very competitive league and pretty much every game is ‘up for grabs’ whether it is at home or away. I do think we will win this one, though if JBJ is able to go. I really agree with And One, in the [ost above, “Beat ’em like you should beat ’em guys. That’s all I ask.”…

  • ‘Nuff_Said

    Au contraire. This team has made a habit of making opponents look like #1 draft picks and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Irvin do just that to us.

  • fourputtsforsnowman

    As a fan, I will continue searching for signs of fundamentals, less so on the offensive side and much more so defensively. My major frustration is watching Mr. Yogi, who gets turned around all the time and can’t be bothered to hustle defensively most of the time during games. The coaches need to get his attention.

  • IUfanPurduePhD

    True, and Irvin played well against us last year, but I don’t see it happening in the Hall this year.

  • marcusgresham

    I think this should be a big double-double game for Troy Williams–and he may get the 10 points on put-backs alone. I don’t think they can keep him off the boards because he’ll be as tall as about anyone on the court and a far better jumper. Hell, he may even jump for the tip to begin the game!

  • And One

    I agree with you. Perhaps “trap game” wasn’t the most accurate term. I guess they’d be justified in looking ahead to @ Maryland, if they hadn’t looked so shaky during this last stretch. If there’s anything positive about the past four games, it’s that they are likely pretty well focused on the task at hand.

  • dwdkc

    Agreed. The league has been better especially at the top, but nobody is actually terrible and any game is potentially competitive. Play hard and with focus and we should be fine; don’t, and this place gets ugly

  • dwdkc

    16-7 now, that would be 21-10. Should be good enough but it would be a bad seed, the dreaded 8/9 at best. Might get that even if we go 6-2 and 22-9, if we lose the first Big 10 tourney game. More than anything I’d just like to see this team improve and if that is 5-3 with them playing their best at the end, I’m OK with that.

  • That made me laugh.. For sure. if they don’t no matter what the circumstances, this place gets UGLY…lol…

  • Michael

    You must not be watching all the big10 teams then.

  • David Macer

    Every home game for now on is a must win. Hold serve at home and swipe a couple road wins

  • oldiugymnast

    You are on crack. Put down the pipe. Yogi is one of the best defenders in the BIG and frequently is assigned someone he is giving 4 plus inches on.

  • b_side

    “My main frustration is watching Mr. Yogi.”

    We know. You post about him any chance you get. But you’re on an island. End it with a period. Easier than coming up with some ridiculous excuse for your criticism that holds no merit.

  • SCHoosier

    JBj guarding Spike would not be a good thing.