|WHAT||Michigan at Indiana|
|WHERE||Assembly Hall, Bloomington, Indiana|
|WHEN||9:00 PM Eastern, Saturday|
|LINE||Indiana –6 (Kenpom)|
Right: Victor Oladipo is terrifying, frankly.
One team stands between Michigan and sole control of the Big Ten, not to mention a likely perch atop both national polls. That team, of course, is Indiana, whose lone losses have come in overtime against Butler (neutral-site) and at home in a textbook Wisconsin slugfest.
Indiana's national player of the year candidate is seven-foot center Cody Zeller, an offensive force thanks to deft touch around the basket (69% on FGs at the rim, per hoop-math), decent mid-range shooting, one of the highest drawn foul rates in the country (7.0/40 min.[!]), and stellar offensive rebounding. He's also a very good defensive rebounder who provides a solid shot-blocking presence. He'll be a huge test for a Michigan team that should be without Jordan Morgan, their best on-ball defender among their big men.
Indiana's other national player of the year candidate is 6'5" wing Victor Oladipo, a brutally efficient shooter—making 69% of his twos and 18-of-34 threes—who hits the offensive glass nearly as frequently as Zeller. Oh, and he's also one of the best defenders in the nation at any position, boasting the #12 steal rate in the country along with his fair share of blocks. The big question for this game is who Oladipo will guard. Will Crean match him up with Trey Burke, in an effort to stymie Michigan's pick-and-roll game like Ohio State did with Aaron Craft? Or does that create too many other matchup issues, leading Crean to put him on Tim Hardaway Jr. or even Nik Stauskas? That largely depends upon what they do with...
...6'0" shooting guard Jordan Hulls, one of the most efficient offensive players in the country thanks to his dead-eye outside shooting (48.1% from three, where he takes 64% of his shots). His lethal shot adds much the same dimension to Indiana's offense that Stauskas's does for Michigan—never, ever help off of Hulls—but on the other end of the floor he's something of a liability. Indiana has three options defensively thanks to his shortcomings, which guarantee he won't match up with Burke: (1) play Oladipo on Burke and hope Hulls can hold his own against Stauskas, (2) go to a 2-3 zone, which they've done to middling success before and could go south in a hurry against Michigan's shooters, or (3) bite the bullet and lessen his minutes in favor of his more defensively proficient backups.
6'9" power forward Christian Watford isn't the most complete player, but he does a few things very well—namely, shoot threes (48%), get to the line, and hit the defensive boards. Watford drives Indiana fans a little crazy, however, because he's prone to inconsistency, hasn't developed an offensive game inside the arc (42% from two), and isn't a great defender. He'll be an interesting matchup for Glenn Robinson III—if Watford loses track of GRIII on the defensive end, there could be fireworks.
Freshman point guard Yogi Ferrell is living up to his five-star hype, though the numbers may not suggest as much. While he isn't a great shooter and has been prone to freshman mistakes (including seven turnovers in the last two games), he runs the offense well and plays very solid defense, especially for a freshman. Ferrell isn't afraid to step up in big moments, either—if the game is on the line, expect the ball to at least start in his hands.
Like Michigan, Indiana doesn't use their bench too often, nor do they go very deep. 6'7" wing Will Sheehy is the only bench player to crack 40% of IU's available minutes (he's at 54%). Sheehy is a solid shooter both inside and outside the arc and gives Crean the option to go with a bigger lineup. 6'4" wing Remy Abell is in much the same mold. The Hoosiers will rarely go beyond the seven players above, especially in a game of this magnitude.
Indiana has eight wins against KP100 opponents but are somewhat lacking in the signature win department: their nine-point home win over Minnesota is looking less impressive by the day, while their best road win came at Iowa (they did beat #26 Georgetown in overtime at a neutral site). Their two losses, covered above, were upsets but by no means embarrassing ones.
Four factors, conference play only:
|eFG%||Turnover %||Off. Reb. %||FTA/FGA|
|Offense||53.3 (2)||19.9 (10)||39.2 (2)||52.1 (1)|
|Defense||44.3 (3)||22.0 (1)||32.8 (8)||27.9 (5)|
This may be the ultimate "something has to give" game. On offense, Indiana does two things extremely well outside of shooting the basketball: rebound and draw fouls. Michigan is #12 nationally in defensive rebounding and the best team in the country at keeping opponents off the free-throw line.
On the other end, Indiana's forte is forcing turnovers, a huge key for getting their offense going. What does Michigan do better than any team in the conference? Not turn the ball over, naturally. The team that is able to play their game is going to win, plain and simple.
Get Hulls off the court. While Sheehy and Abel are solid players, Hulls adds a completely different dimension to Indiana's offense by forcing defenses to respect his outside shot and being able to create that shot off the dribble—he's More Than Just A Spot-Up Shooter™, which is what makes him so dangerous. Indiana is going to have to hide him defensively, however, so if Michigan can identify that matchup and exploit it until Indiana is forced to choose between getting firebombed and taking one of their main offensive weapons off the court, that's a huge advantage for Michigan. If Hulls ends up on Stauskas, which is what I expect, I bet you'll see Stuaskas in a lot of pick-and-roll situation, where he's lethal even when he doesn't have a six-inch size advantage.
Stay out of foul trouble up front. This was a key for Horford and McGary against Northwestern and they combined for just four fouls, but the Wildcats aren't familiar with the concept of a post presence, let alone one as dangerous as Cody Zeller. This is not the game for Michigan to try and survive with Max Bielfeldt playing 15-20 minutes.
Stay aggressive, guards. That said, Michigan would like to find a way to get some easy points in transition, and they've been able to do that lately with Trey Burke being far more aggressive defensively. Burke's going against a freshman point guard who's been prone to turnovers, so I'd love to see him continue to attack the ball and try to fluster Ferrell into mistakes. The team that can hold onto the ball while getting out in transition should win this game, so along those lines...
Hold onto the damn ball. Self-explanatory.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT
THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES RIGHTEOUS VICTORY
Michigan by 1
With all due respect to KenPom, Cody Zeller, Victor Oladipo, the voodoo of Assembly Hall, and everything else favoring Indiana, I have to go with Michigan for one simple reason: the matchups. When Indiana has the ball, Michigan at least knows which of their starters is going to match up with each of Indiana's: Burke on Farrell, Stauskas on Hulls, Hardaway on Oladipo, Robinson on Watford, Horford/McGary on Zeller. Whether they'll be greatly effective is another issue, but at least the matchups make sense.
On the other end, Indiana has a huge problem, and that problem is slowing down the Burke/Hardaway/Stauskas triumvirate when two of their starting guards are each 6'0" tall—a freshman and a defensive liability, respectively. I don't think Indiana will be able to stay in a zone, not against Michigan's shooters, and that means either living with a terrible matchup (likely Hulls on Stauskas) or benching one of their best offensive weapons.
In a game with two teams this good, even at Indiana, I think that's enough to swing the result in favor of the good guys.
Crimson and Crodcast. I appear on CrimsonCast talking about the game. I'm not very audible early, unfortunately.
FRAN! I ALREADY TOLD YOU THE MORTGAGE RATE WILL ADJUST IN FIVE YEARS HOW HARD IS THIS TO UNDERSTAND
GET OUT OF MY BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANK
(Iowa beat Penn State too narrowly for McCaffery's taste.)
Glory grasped. Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl champs, man.
It doesn't get any better than this you guys.
Statistical indications. Dylan's hookup with Synergy Sports makes me all jealous and stuff, because he can tell you that Indiana's not real good at defending the pick and roll:
The Hoosiers rank in just the16th percentile nationally while defending pick and roll ball handlers. Michigan happens to have one of the best ball screen offenses in the country including the two best ball screen scorers in the league. …
For comparison, Ohio State – who stifled Michigan’s ball screen offense – surrenders just .56 PPP to screen and roll ball handlers (89th percentile) and .82 PPP to roll men (77th percentile).
There's still something that seems strange with those number since it seems impossible that allowing 0.84 points a possession on anything is, like, bad, but the percentiles are the percentiles. When it comes to the pick and roll, Indiana finds themselves squarely between Northwestern and Penn State:
Not where you want to be. Also note that Michigan's the best team in the league at defending the pick and roll what with their hard hedging.
Anyway, Burke and Stauskas's proficiency with the P&R will hopefully force Indiana to do things they don't want to—like play zone—or lead to lots of that scoring stuff.
Dylan also brings up a salient point from last year: Crean put Christian Watford on Burke, like, a lot. Given the relative success Illinois had at holding Burke's numbers down by switching Nnanna Egwu onto him in the pick and roll we might see something similar, at least until Mitch McGary rebounding against Yogi Ferrell becomes a bit of an issue.
More indications of how this is probably going to go. Barry Alvarez is on record that he would like to see Wisconsin play Iowa, Minnesota, and Nebraska yearly in the Rhombus of Hate. Add that to the pile of evidence suggesting the Big Ten will tear up the Where Is Wisconsin and Why Is Wisconsin Here divisions for the conference's brief stop at 14 teams.
Speaking of The Big Ten, Too model:
“Based on the last three years I’ve been in this business, you’d be crazy not to think about it," Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon said. "But it’s hard to model anything because you don’t know what to model. The minute you get yourself convinced that you’re going to go from 14 to 16, for all you know you’re going to 18, and a lot of people think the ultimate landing place is 20. Who knows?"
I guess it's a better ideal than this bit.
Gene Smith's still pushing for ten conference games, BTW.
Frieder: still mad. Bill Frieder's been making the rounds this week and seems to have a little bit of bitterness left over from his matchups at Assembly Hall back in the day:
"The hostility of that crowd and everything else you have to go against at Indiana (is tough)," he said. "You usually won't get good officiating at Indiana, you usually get a bad call or something bad with the administration along the sideline. There's something to do with the shot clock or the clock not starting on time.
"You'll have everything going against you, so you'll have to play extremely well to win the game. ... When you play Indiana at Indiana and they're a top five team, you're going to be the underdog, no matter where you're ranked."
If the second half goes anything like Illinois's against MSU last night I won't stop twitching for weeks.
Etc.: MSU guard Travis Trice apparently fine after nasty hit to head last night. More on the "catfishing" story, which I stopped caring about a lot faster than everyone else. Everyone's in a tizzy about whether in fact the term was used. Indiana-Michigan previews from Inside the Hall and the Crimson Quarry. Also UMHoops.
Somebody asked what a Hoosier is. I know the answer! It's a cabinet. Seriously.
You doubt me? Look it up. Back in the day—like during those 50 years between when Indiana joined the Big Ten and finally won a championship—kitchens didn't come with the cabinets and countertops and stuff all in place. They were just rooms. So you'd put a "Hoosier" in there. The Hoosier had cabinets and drawers and a spice rack and came with its own flower sifter and grinder so you can bake your own bread, which is an important thing to have in pre-industrial nations like Indiana.
How it works:
- Wednesdays I put up a winnable prize that consists of a desirable good.
- You guess the final scores of this weekend's designated game (football or hoops, depending on the season), and put it in the comments. First person to post a particular score has it.
- If you got it right, we contact you. If not, go to (5)
- The desirable good arrives at the address you give us.
- Non-winners can acquire the same desirable good by trading currency for it.
- Seriously, you don't have to actually guess a basketball score to get this shirt. You can buy it.
About Last Time:
The lowballing mbrummer guessed "67-52 and its [sic] not that close" so he gets the really comfy basketball tee for managing to get closest to the 68-53 final score by actually picking fewer points to be scored by either team.
This Week's Game:
Michigan @ Indiana on Saturday February 2. Please note that "Michigan @ Indiana on Saturday February 2" is not "Michigan versus Northwestern at Crisler tonight." Not that the people who guess the wrong game ever read this part, but I like putting warnings in anyway so we can make fun of them later. Watch, some tool will still guess Northwestern…
And the Prize:
Wishing for Muppets over an Indiana game; it must be basketball season.
Fine print: One entry per user. First user to choose a set of scores wins, determined by the timestamp of your entry (make it easy on me and write your score in digits with a hyphen between them. No, don't—why would you want to make my life easy? Wait, I'm a professional Michigan fan—okay my life is pretty easy). Deadline for entries is 24 hours before the start of the game. MGoEmployees and Moderators exempt from winning. We did not invent the algorithm. The algorithm consistently finds Jesus. The algorithm spent 10 years as the Indiana of basketball, if that makes sense. The algorithm is banned in China. The algorithm is from Jersey. The algorithm is not just a shooter.. This is not the algorithm. This is close.