Indiana-Michigan Preview: Analysis, Point Spread, Prediction, TV Time and Announcers

On Wednesday at 6:30 ET, the 20th-ranked Indiana Hoosiers (17-5, 5-5) head to Ann Arbor to take on the 22nd-ranked Michigan Wolverines (16-6, 6-3) on the Big Ten Network.

As always, Jerod, Ryan, and Andy will be here with another episode of The Assembly Call as soon as the game ends with instant analysis and fan reaction.

IU-Michigan Gameday Info

IU-Michigan Preview

Michigan

The Wolverines have alternated wins and losses over their last six games and are coming off of a three-game road trip where they went 1-2 with a win at Purdue sandwiched between losses at Arkansas and Ohio State.  Tim Hardaway Jr. has led the team in scoring in each of the last two games with 19 points against the Boilers and 15 versus the Buckeyes.  However, Michigan shot just four free throws against OSU and was crushed on the glass, allowing the Buckeyes to grab 14 offensive rebounds.

Offensively, the Wolverines have taken 43.0 percent of their shots from beyond the arc despite connecting on just over 30 percent from deep.  Interestingly, they are sixth in the nation in two-point shooting.  With freshman Trey Burke running the show, they have a low turnover rate, but they are last in free throw rate during league play.  Overall, their offensive efficiency is in the middle of the pack, but their 0.84 points per possession against OSU is dragging down what would otherwise be a solid average.

That isn’t particularly good news for Indiana given how poor their defense has been in league play.  The Hoosiers rank eighth or worse in all four factors and surrendered 1.08 ppp in the first meeting between these two teams.  They did show signs of improvement against Wisconsin, but they allowed 1.20 ppp against Iowa on Sunday.  The fact that Michigan plays at a much slower pace should help limit transition baskets, but it will be critical for the Hoosiers to keep Burke out of the lane.

Burke has been one of the best freshman in the nation and comes in averaging 14.1 points, 5.0 assists, and 3.6 rebounds.  The Wolverines have also gotten improved play from big man Jordan Morgan, who has 36 points and 18 rebounds over the last three games.  Indiana natives Zack Novak and Stu Douglass will also be looking to end their careers against the Hoosiers on a high note.

On defense, the Wolverines have allowed their last five opponents to score at least 1.04 ppp.  They rank first in opponents’ free throw rate and third in turnover rate in conference play.  However, they have allowed league foes to shoot 38.4 percent from beyond the arc and are last in block percentage.  Cody Zeller and Christian Watford combined for 43 points on 16-of-21 shooting in the first meeting, so expect the Hoosiers to attack from the inside out.

Michigan is in the middle of the pack in defensive rebounding percentage in league play but has allowed opponents to grab at least 36 percent of their misses in three of the last five games.  On Sunday the Hoosiers grabbed 18 of their 30 missed shots against Iowa, and it will be critical for them to maintain that level of aggressiveness on the boards.

Indiana

IU should come in with plenty of confidence offensively after scoring 103 points against Iowa, as six players reached double figures.  The Hoosiers changed their starting lineup for the first time in that game, inserting sophomore Will Sheehey in place of fellow soph Victor Oladipo.  Both players seemed to respond well, and it’s worth noting that Sheehey missed the first matchup between these teams with an ankle injury.  His ability to defend multiple positions should really help the Hoosiers against the perimeter-oriented Wolverines.

For Indiana, Zeller is coming off of a career-high 26 points against Iowa, most of which came on dunks.  Verdell Jones III has also played better of late with 26 points in the last two games.  He has been more aggressive in going to the basket, and many of his nine assists against the Hawkeyes were off of dribble penetration.  He needs to remain aggressive and put pressure on the Michigan defense while making good decisions with the ball in his hands.

The Hoosiers got 18 points and five offensive rebounds from the bench tandem of Derek Elston and Tom Pritchard against Iowa.  Elston has played much better over the last three games, and Tom Crean’s team has gotten a real spark from the bench in recent games.  Given Michigan’s struggles to defend the three-point line, sharpshooter Matt Roth could play a factor in the outcome.

Final Thought

For IU, the keys on defense will be containing Burke off the dribble and forcing Hardaway to settle for contested jumpers while controlling the defensive glass.  If they can rekindle the defensive energy they showed against Wisconsin, they should be able to slow up Michigan offensively.

On the other end of the floor, the team needs to maintain their aggressiveness by going inside to Zeller or penetrating off the dribble.  That should open things up at the three-point line for shooters like Jordan Hulls and Matt Roth.  They also need to attack the offensive glass, as Michigan has shown vulnerability there in recent games.

The Wolverines are undefeated at home this season, although victories over Minnesota, Northwestern, and Michigan State have come by a combined eight points.  Consequently, I expect a close game that won’t be decided until the final minutes.

*********

Listen to Andy Sunday on The Assembly Call. Follow him on Twitter at @AndyBottoms.



About Andy Bottoms

While Andy was born and raised in Indiana, he would like to point out that he grew up shooting hoops in his driveway and not against the side of a barn like you see in all the March Madness promos or in the middle of a field like Jimmy Chitwood. Andy ranks among the top bracketologists according to the Bracket Matrix and has provided his projections to Fox Sports for the past three seasons. When not compiling excuses for missing work during the NCAA Tournament, Andy enjoys spending time with his wife and two daughters. He is a proud IU graduate and co-hosts The Assembly Call postgame show following every IU game. Twitter: @AndyBottoms

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