What to expect: Michigan

  • 12/01/2017 12:34 pm in

Indiana travels north to Ann Arbor to open Big Ten play on Saturday afternoon against the Michigan Wolverines. Michigan is 6-2 and coming off of an 86-71 loss at North Carolina on Wednesday in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge.

The game will be broadcast at 12:30 p.m. on CBS with Carter Blackburn and Bill Raftery on the call:

Ready or not, conference play has arrived. Thanks to Jim Delany’s desire to stage the Big Ten tournament in historic Madison Square Garden, this year’s condensed conference schedule means a pair of league games have been moved to early December.

No Big Ten team has its two conference games sandwiched by tougher competition than Indiana. The Hoosiers will play Michigan on Saturday and Iowa on Monday as follow ups to Wednesday’s 91-81 loss in Bloomington to No. 1 Duke. And after Indiana opens league play, it will go to Louisville on Saturday, Dec. 9 and then play Notre Dame on a neutral court the following Saturday.

Indiana has made significant strides in the three weeks since losing by 21 at home to Indiana State, but we’ll soon find out if that progress can translate to wins.


John Beilein has built one of the Big Ten’s most consistent programs by producing elite offensive teams that don’t turn the ball over. Michigan was 14-9 at one point last year before going on to win the Big Ten tournament and advancing to the Sweet Sixteen.

But through eight games, this Michigan team is still a work in progress. The Wolverines have one notable win thus far, a neutral court victory over VCU in the Maui Invitational. Michigan doesn’t have a reliable replacement for Derrick Walton Jr. and the Wolverines also miss D.J. Wilson, who left for the NBA.

The two names at the top of the Michigan scouting report are Charles Matthews, who sat out last season after transferring from Kentucky, and Moritz Wagner.

Matthews is Michigan’s leading scorer at 16.1 points per game and likes to play in the pick-and-roll. After failing to gain much traction as a freshman in Lexington, Matthews is on track to be a breakout star in Ann Arbor. He’s shooting 59 percent on 2s, but has struggled at the free throw line (51.9 percent) and on 3s (31.8 percent).

Wagner is one of the most versatile bigs in the country and presents a challenge for Indiana because of his ability to step outside and hit perimeter shots. Wagner is averaging 15.9 points through seven games and is making 67.3 percent of his 2s and 35.7 percent of his 3s. Wagner’s 3-point shooting should be of concern to Indiana as De’Ron Davis may have trouble marking him beyond the 3-point line. Wagner is also an elite rebounder as his defensive rebounding percentage (33.9) currently ranks fourth in the country.

Senior Duncan Robinson also starts for Michigan and is an elite shooter who struggles to defend. Robinson is a career 43.3 percent 3-point shooter, but if he isn’t making shots he becomes a liability for the Wolverines.

Two frontcourt reserves that Indiana can expect to see are sophomore Jon Teske and freshman Isaiah Livers. Teske is a serviceable center who can protect the rim. Livers is scoring 3.5 points in 10.6 minutes per game off the bench and should be a big part of the program’s future.

Michigan’s point guard situation is a revolving door as freshman Eli Brooks, sophomore Zavier Simpson and graduate transfer Jaaron Simmons split the minutes.

The preseason prognostications had Simmons as the guy taking over for Walton Jr., but that plan hasn’t materialized. Brooks is the current starter, but he isn’t much of an offensive threat. He’s shooting just 32.1 percent from the field and has a higher turnover percentage than assist rate.

Simpson, a former top 100 recruit from Ohio, is averaging the most minutes of the trio, but has a turnover rate (35.5) that Beilein simply won’t tolerate. And Simmons, who arrived as a grad transfer from Ohio, simply appears to be in over his head so far. His turnover percentage is also over 35 and he’s shooting just 23.1 percent from the field.

Senior Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman starts at the off guard and is a better player than he’s shown so far this season. Abdur-Rahkman is a career 34.3 percent 3-point shooter, but is just at 24.2 this season. He’s fourth on the team in scoring at 9.9 points per game.

Freshman Jordan Poole is a capable shooter who comes off the bench and should see his role increase as the season moves along. He’s played 23 minutes over Michigan’s last two games.


There are only a handful of teams who play a slower pace than Indiana and Michigan is at the top of the list. The Wolverines are averaging just 64 possessions per game and rank 10th nationally in turnover percentage at 14.4.

Looking at Michigan’s offensive profile so far, the Wolverines aren’t a team that gets to the line often (24.4 percent free throw rate) nor are they a strong 3-point shooting team (32.6 percent). Michigan also doesn’t emphasize offensive rebounding, a staple of Beilein’s teams. Where Michigan has been solid offensively is finishing 2s (58.4 percent) and much of that is because of Matthews and Wagner, two of the league’s best frontcourt players.

Like Indiana, Michigan is getting lit up from behind the 3-point line, but 3-point field goal percentage defense is one of the least reliable stats out there.


The KenPom line is Michigan by eight with just a 23 percent chance for Indiana to walk away with a road win. The Sagarin ratings like the Wolverines by 8.5.

Indiana was good for a half in its first road game before falling apart at Seton Hall. The Hoosiers were terrific against Duke for 35 minutes before fading late. Big Ten road wins are difficult to come by, but Indiana might be catching Michigan at a good time given the early start time and their point guard struggles.

Frontcourt play will likely decide this game as Matthews and Wagner have the ability to dominate a game. Indiana will need De’Ron Davis to play more than the 21 minutes he logged against Duke and it will also need Juwan Morgan and Freddie McSwain to hold their own against Matthews.

Based on Pomeroy’s win probabilities, Saturday is Indiana’s second best chance for a win in their next four contests.

(Photo credit: Dustin Johnson, UMHoops.com)

Filed to:

  • IU_Nation

    Don’t see us winning here.

  • HoosierOne

    I’m forecasting a win tomorrow. I think with the intensity we had on Wednesday showed our guys what it takes now to win against elite competition. We just have to stay out of foul trouble as the tick tack fouls on the road can easily get our big dogs on the bench.

  • Fivelefts

    I think the team is Very Hungry for a Win. I say IU Wins it! By 7 pts!

  • IUBizmark

    I’ll be there! Center court, right behind the student section! I think IU has a solid chance to win. To Glory!

  • sarge

    Where are you at RonMlarkey? I want to see how badly you can predict this game too. I already posted this, but wanted to rub your Duke predictions in your face one last time.

    Actually, that isn’t what you said and none of your prediction came true. Bagley didn’t get 30 or 12 and played during the last 8 minutes because he HAD TO. He played 38 minutes. You said DD would be “in foul trouble the entire game, plays 13 minutes.” DD wasn’t in foul trouble the entire game, actually fouling out Carter Jr. instead and dominating Duke’s frontcourt. Duke was not in the double bonus by the 14 minute mark of each half either like you predicted. You are my punching bag for the season chump.

  • sarge

    I like playing on the road in conference early rather than later. I think we can get this one Hoosiers!

  • sarge


  • RonMlarkey

    You predicted a win.. I was much closer than you were Private

  • IU_Nation

    After an emotional loss like the one in Wednesday, it is so hard to bounce back and play that hard again. Michigan is a really good team and it’s on the road, I just don’t really see a way we pull this one out. I hope I’m wrong, though!

  • sarge

    No you weren’t, and we had a 4 point lead with 6 to go in the game. Nothing you said came close to happening. Take your football and go home.

  • sarge

    I think if we had beaten Duke you would have a fair point. I think we stay hungry and get the W

  • RonMlarkey

    Bagley had 23 and 10 not far off my prediction, Deron was in foul trouble for an entire half, Duke was in double bonus very early in the second half, I made very specific predictions and none were far off.

  • SCHoosier

    If we get the same intensity from this young team that it had against Duke..IU has a shot. On the other hand..first road game for this group..and UM always seem to shoot well when the Hoosiers visit their gym. UM deserves to be favored. IU will play hard and well enuff to deserve a win (I hope)

  • sarge

    All of them were way off. Bagley played 38 minutes to get what he had and you predicted he would do it sitting the last 8. Way off. DD outplayed Duke and dominated, the opposite of what you said and played an entire half without foul trouble. Way off. Duke never made double bonus by the 14 minute mark in either half. Way off. You were specific on your prediction, you just sucked at predicting. What are your predictions for this game?

  • Ole Man

    I think they don’t know yet how to sustain the energy and run out by the second half.

  • sarge

    RonMlarkey, your silence is golden.

  • sarge

    Maybe not, but haven’t we got better every game so far? If we do that again, it should be enough to beat Michigan on the road with some 2nd half lapses. We have to shoot better, especially from the charity stripe.

  • sarge
  • HuntinHoosier86


  • David Macer

    Sarge, no need to feed the troll !!

  • RonMlarkey

    My predictions:
    De’Ron Davis has big game on offense, abusing Wagner in the post.
    UM shoots far better from 3 point range than the Hoosiers and they win by 4 points.

  • sarge

    Modest and fair prediction, maybe we can get along.

  • Arch Puddington

    sarge, you are better than this. You are one of the really sincere and courteous voices on this board. Don’t give in to the dark side. Leave the taunting and name calling for lesser souls.

  • ForIndiana

    Probably not, I was just over on UMHoops reading their preview and your friend was the first post over there…he’s a Wolverine…easier to get along with than a Boiler, but not by much.

  • sarge

    This was in reply to his post to someone else. I am using his own words against him. I appreciate the kind words AP, and you are probably right. I will behave

  • RonMlarkey

    I am a Hoosier that cannot be contained to one website.

  • RonMlarkey

    Posts go by most recent to least recent so actually, currently, I am the last to have posted. Always interesting to see the opposing teams preview in my opinion.

  • IU Hoosiers # 34, 1979-83

    Nice, IU 72, Mi 64

  • sarge

    I think it is safe for everyone to assume at this point, you aren’t a Hoosier.

  • sarge

    Good stuff

  • IU Hoosiers # 34, 1979-83

    Hey!!!! bball, what abo??ut?????? me???

  • sarge

    Your posts are always a delight to read! I nominate you!

  • RonMlarkey

    Not what my diploma says!

  • IU Hoosiers # 34, 1979-83

    HH!!! I’m in a deer blind now for 2nd season in Illinois. I’m in Polo, I’ll. Where do you deer hunt??????

  • IU Hoosiers # 34, 1979-83

    Not yet.

  • sarge

    I don’t believe you own anything with Indiana on it or a diploma!

  • PBzeer

    One thing I don’t think is being taken into account is that we are an experienced team in B1G play. I think that helps us get out to a good start. Secondly, we keep up our inside play I think we can get them into some early foul trouble. And lastly, I don’t think they’re really going to be ready for this version of the Hoosiers.

  • RonMlarkey

    I dont believe you own all your teeth!

  • jaywiz

    Did you forget that UM is coming off a Wednesday night beat down IN NC?!? True, they probably don’t have the exhaustion factor, but they’ve gotta be feeling pretty down, whereas I think IU just went toe to toe with #1 so they are feeling pretty good. I don’t see much advantage either way, but if the Hoosiers can continue the forward progress and avoid the “2 steps back” they can steal a good one and possibly start B1G 2-0. This team is ultimately going to build its resume in Con play, so why not start right? Sounds ok to me!

  • sarge

    It isn’t anything like the Hoosiers they saw last year, is it?

  • PBzeer

    Certainly not the IU they’re used to seeing.

  • thrawnjan

    This is one of those games where their guards start hitting what they so far have missed. Urrrgh

  • Mark Bando

    The Chicago SunTimes had an interesting article on the big ten in todays paper. Outside of MSU, most of the teams have had a loss as bad or worse than our ISU loss. The league is wide open and I hope we can get off to a good start today and Monday

  • Sandra Wilson

    Isn’t UM experienced as well?. (Wagner – Robinson – Rahkman) I agree with you on inside play. I really thought Davis could have been fed more in the Duke game, particularly late in the game. Wouldn’t it make more sense to have Davis guard Matthews and Morgan on Wagner ? Hopefully the pick and roll defense with Davis on the picker has been worked on. Win the next two (they are winnable) and the two after that won’t be nearly as critical.

  • PBzeer

    Yes, they have some experienced players as well, but not as deep into the roster as we do.

  • TomJameson

    Hah … “nor are they a strong 3-point shooting team (32.6 percent)…. ” … translates to “will have a record 3-pt shooting night against IU.

  • IdahoHoosier

    You want Davis guarding Michigan’s best scorer who is a quick guard? I’m confused.

  • Piker

    Hmm I thought I saw DD at the free throw line alot at the end of game

  • Yeah, I hear you, but Duke wasn’t shooting particularly well from outside heading into our game and they ended up shooting worse than we did. Maybe the curse is broken?

  • Jeremy

    I do not see Indiana winning this game on the road. It would be awesome if we could pull it off. I think we stay close and free throws kill us again.