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College Basketball Pick


This looks like a fairly even matchup, but only a couple weeks ago Michigan routed Indiana in a 90-60 win. The Wolverines couldn't miss as they dropped 50 points in the first half. It was almost the same thing for them on Tuesday when they beat Michigan State 87-56. But the problem for Michigan is playing on the road and putting together a consistent run of games. UM still has not won a true road game this season and looked far from inspired in the two games following the first IU win.

But the Hoosiers have other issues at hand, namely trying to reach the NCAA tournament. This team was seemingly a lock early on, but through injuries and ineffectiveness, their early-season wins against Kansas and North Carolina may not prove to be enough. That ultimately means Indiana cannot lose this game if it wants a chance in the tournament. One would think playing at Assembly Hall would be enough, but the status of James Blackmon Jr. could mean more.

Indiana has failed to get enough offensive production without Blackmon on the floor. They've battled in recent games, notably at Wisconsin, but beating Penn State in three overtimes at home isn't all that impressive. Blackmon will be needed in this one for the Hoosiers to have a better chance.

At the least, there's no way Michigan will as efficient as they were last meeting, scoring 1.53 points per possession and a ridiculous 31-of-49 from the field. Similar to the Michigan State game, the Wolverines could not do anything wrong as they had six players reach double figures. But again, in this environment, it will be hard for them to match that performance, considering their road woes. Still, Indiana will need to find a way to pick it up defensively. Josh Newkirk needs to do a better job on Derrick Walton, who has turned into an all-Big Ten player in the last couple weeks. Walton scored 21 points in the first game and has been on fire from deep.

It's a similar situation for Thomas Bryant and De'Ron Davis, who need to do a much better job at stopping Moritz Wagner. For that to work, Bryant and Davis need to be factors on the offensive end to try and possibly get Wagner into foul trouble. Wagner opens the Michigan offense up because of his ability to stretch the floor as a big man. And while Walton could have another 20-point game, it's not a guarantee for anyone else to reach double figures on the road. Zak Irvin is far from consistent, which is the same that can be said for DJ Wilson and the rest.

But if Blackmon misses out due to his injury, then how will Indiana win? Even in the Michigan blowout, Blackmon played and couldn't do anything, taking just three shots and scoring four points. Bryant and Davis will be key if Indiana wants to work guys like Wilson and Wagner in the paint. Others will need to step up as well, whether that's Robert Johnson or Newkirk continuing his recent success. Newkirk has been one of the lone Hoosiers to score in recent games, posting 49 points total in games against Penn State and Wisconsin.

The question will be if Michigan can take its shooting on the road, which hasn't been the case all season. The Wolverines have been one of the harder teams to bet and that remains the case here. The Hoosiers are in close to a must-win situation, which is one of the only reasons to take them at Assembly Hall.

Our Pick - Indiana by 2

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