Neither Michigan nor Indiana is playing its best basketball of the season and that’s why this Game will be a little harder to predict. since starting the season 12-2 overall and 3-0 in Conference play, the Hoosiers have lost their last five with most of them by ugly margins. They were rarely competitive in their last three losses, losing on the road to Purdue and Northwestern while getting blown out at home by Nebraska.
It’s not quite the same situation for the Wolverines since they still only have one loss. Things haven’t been easy for them, losing last weekend at Wisconsin and then needing a buzzer beater to drop Minnesota on Tuesday. When these teams met a few weeks ago, Michigan got out to a 32-13 lead and never looked back. Indiana put up some fight and stayed relatively close for most of the second half, but no one doubted Michigan in the 74-63 win.
Rob Phinisee is back for IU, but that hasn’t mattered much after he missed the first meeting with Michigan. And while the Wolverines may not be playing their best basketball, the Hoosiers have been worse. There aren’t many paths for the home team to steal this Game unless something changes. OUtside of Romeo LAngford (17.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg) and Juwan Morgan (16.5 ppg, 7.9 rpg), no one has been able to Scoreat a consistent rate with no one else over 8.7 points per Game. Even then, LAngford is in a bit of a slump with 16 points total in the last two Games and a matchup with this Michigan defense which ranks third nationally in terms of efficiency doesn’t help. LAngford and Morgan combined for 42 points in the first matchup and no one else was above nine. The addition of Phinisee helps, but he averages only 7.0 points per Game.
The best chance IU has may be to pick up its defense because Michigan has had issues of its own, failing to Scoremore than 59 points in each of its last two Games. The Wolverines scored 30 points in the first 10 minutes in the last meeting, but then 44 the rest of the way. If they don’t have another spurt like that, they could again have trouble reaching 60 points and that’s an advantage for Indiana. Of course, IU’s defense doesn’t do one thing particularly well and just gave up 73 points to Northwestern.
Indiana did a good job on Ignas Brazdeikis (14.9 ppg) and Jon Teske in that first Game and will now have to find a way to stop Zavier Simpson, Charles Matthews (13.3 ppg) and Jordan Poole (12.9 ppg). The main problem with Michigan’s offense lately is that its top scorers are struggling to make shots. Brazdeikis is just 4-for-23 in the last two Games and Matthews has 12 total points in that period. This may be the area that Phinisee is needed most because he can match up with Simpson, who is on a bit of a scoring spurt as of late, though only had six points against Minnesota.
Given how the Hoosiers are playing, it’ll be hard to back them, but when you look at the other side of the cOurt and the equally inconsistent Wolverines, you may change your mind. Michigan’s biggest advantage in this Game is on the defensive end and the hope for IU backers is that Assembly Hall makes the difference on a Friday night.
Our Pick – Indiana +4