Preview: Indiana Comment Count

Ace February 1st, 2014 at 5:13 PM


WHAT Michigan at Indiana
WHERE Assembly Hall, Bloomington, Indiana
WHEN 1 pm Eastern, Sunday
LINE Michigan -5 (KenPom)
TV CBS (PBP: Ian Eagle; Analyst: Bill Raftery)

Right: #thug


Michigan's hasn't won in Assembly Hall since 2009 and were swept in last season's series against the Hoosiers, costing the Wolverines a potential Big Ten title. (Things ended up working out juuuuuuust fine.) This year's Indiana squad barely resembles last year's conference champions, as this graphic from Inside The Hall—which notably excises Mitch McGary's stats here—displays quite clearly:

Gone are two national player of the year candidates in Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo; same with snipers Christian Watford and Jordan Hulls, and even the valuable depth provided by Remy Abell.

Sophomore point guard Yogi Ferrell has transitioned remarkably well from being the fifth scoring option last season to this year's go-to guy, averaging 17.3 points and 4.0 assist per game while improving his three-point shooting from 30.3% on 76 attempts to 41.4% on 128 attempts and cutting down on turnovers. His finishing inside the arc (43.2% 2-pt) still leaves much to be desired; in all other facets, however, he's become an excellent point guard.

The other familiar face is that of senior wing Will Sheehey, who's gone the opposite direction of Farrell; after being a highly efficient sixth man a season ago, he's struggled mightily with his outside shot (25.9% 3-pt, down from 34.6%) as a starter, with an uptick in turnovers to boot. His decent mid-range jumper and solid athleticism keep him a threat off the dribble, but he's been a big disappointment this season.

Indiana's most-used lineup features three freshmen surrounding the aforementioned returners. The most prominent is 6'10" center and potential lottery pick Noah Vonleh, a monster on the boards (10th nationally in DReb%, 115th in OReb%) with a quickly developing post-up game. Offensively, he's an efficient inside scorer who gets to the line frequently and even shows flashes of an Adreian Payne-esque outside shot (10/18 3-pt); turnovers are his only real bugaboo on that end, and he makes up for a lot of that by altering plenty of shots on defense.

Über-athletic 6'7" wing Troy Williams is another huge threat on the offensive glass and a decent finisher (and superlative dunker) when he gets near the hoop; right now, that's about the extent of his offensive arsenal, as his outside shooting is non-existent (2/20 3-pt) and he's turning the ball over on nearly a quarter of his possessions used.

6'4" freshman guard Stanford Robinson earned his first career starts in the last three games, replacing grad-year transfer Evan Gordon—brother of one-year Hoosier wonder Eric Gordon—at the two. Robinson gets almost all of his production at or near the rim; his jump shot is very much a work-in-progress. Gordon is shooting 49% from two and 33% from three on the year and has struggled mightily in his last four games, shooting a combined 4/20 from the field with just two FTA in that span—his production is heavily reliant on an iffy outside shot.

Backup bigs Hanner Mosquera-Perea, Jeremy Hollowell, and Devin Davis have all seen sporadic playing time behind Vonleh and Williams. Mosquera-Perea and Davis provide good shot-blocking and rebounding while committing far too many turnovers given their limited offensive roles. Hollowell fancies himself a stretch four but has shot very poorly on jumpers while struggling to finish around the rim; he doesn't provide nearly the same level of rebounding as the other two backup bigs.


Unless you count holding serve at home by three points against #21 Wisconsin, a win looking less impressive by the day, Indiana's resume is entirely devoid of a quality win—their next-best conference victory came at home against #80 Illinois, while their best non-conference triumph came on a neutral floor versus #105 Washington. They are 3-7 against KP100 teams, were blown out in Assembly Hall against Michigan State, and lost on their own floor against fourth place(!!!!!!!!!!!!) Northwestern.


Now that we're partway into conference play, I'll start posting four factors charts for all the games and Big Ten games only, with sample size issues obviously coming into play on the latter for a while.

Four factors, all games (national ranks in parentheses):

  eFG% Turnover % Off. Reb. % FTA/FGA
Offense 49.3 (183) 21.9 (328) 39.8 (10) 49.6 (36)
Defense 44.9 (37) 18.3 (178) 26.5 (14) 33.9 (52)

Conference-only (eight games, Big Ten ranks in parentheses):

  eFG% Turnover % Off. Reb. % FTA/FGA
Offense 45.3 (9) 22.4 (12) 34.8 (3) 40.4 (5)
Defense 49.5 (9) 17.7 (5) 25.3 (3) 30.9 (4)

Indiana can't shoot, which is both a problem (obviously) and rather bizarre to watch after last year's squad made it rain on the regular; the Hoosiers are 11th in the conference in two-point percentage (42.1% in B1G play) and while Yogi Ferrell is keeping their three-point percentage respectable (35.5%), that's on the second-fewest attempts in the league. While their ability to crash the boards and get to the line keep the offense from being Northwestern-level terrible, the lack of shooting combined with ample turnovers has them tenth in the Big Ten in offensive efficiency.

The defense ranks fourth in the conference in efficiency, propped up by great rebounding and a lack of fouls. Their field goal defense has actually fallen off a cliff in Big Ten play—opponents have consistently shot well over 50% on two-pointers, and if threes are falling Indiana is in deep trouble, as they allow the third-most attempts from beyond the arc in the conference.


Keep the rebounding close. Indiana is much like Purdue—their jump shots are liable to go anywhere, which makes it difficult to keep them off the offensive boards. The Hoosier have more size and athleticism than the Boilermakers, which rebounded 39% of their misses—to Michigan's 24%—on Thursday night against the Wolverines. It's unreasonable to hope for Michigan to keep Vonleh and Co. from having the edge in rebounding; at the very least, however, they need to minimize the number of rebounds around the basket that can result in immediate putback attempts. Long rebounds are less of an issue against a team lacking much in the way of shooting.

Hang with them early. As Brian Kudron of Genuinely Sarcastic helpfully noted today, Indiana has a history of jumping out to big early leads against Michigan in Assembly Hall:

Mercifully, Michigan didn't play at Indiana in 2007-08, Beilein's first season at the helm. The Wolverines would recover to win just one of these games. Not only is it helpful to keep the Assembly Hall crowd from becoming a major factor early on, there's also this: the Hoosiers have worn down in second halves in Big Ten play, with a -1 total scoring margin in the first half and a -20 margin in the second half and overtime.

Working hypothesis: this has a lot to do with Yogi Ferrell not having a viable backup—he's played 33 or more minutes in all but one Big Ten game, including a 43-minute outing in their overtime loss to Illinois. Stay close early and Michigan should be able to wear down the Hoosiers over the course of the game.

Stay out of early foul trouble. Easier said than done in Assembly Hall, obviously. With Vonleh and Williams providing tons of athleticism and rebounding up front, Michigan needs Jordan Morgan or Jon Horford on the floor at all times to mitigate their effectiveness. This will also be a big test for Glenn Robinson III, who's been very quiet on the glass in Big Ten play with the notable exception of the Iowa game. If those guys pick up some cheap ones, Vonleh can go to work in the post and Williams can take advantage of the lack of depth at the four—Zak Irvin's DReb% is currently lower than Nik Stauskas'.


Michigan by 5


UMHoops preview. Maize n Brew preview. Inside The Hall preview. Luke Winn's power rankings highlight the separation of the Big Ten into clear tiers at this point:

Winn notes Iowa's efficiency margin is bolstered by two blowouts of Northwestern, though scoring as well as they have against the Wildcats' bafflingly good defense is more of a positive sign than I think Winn gives them credit for.



February 1st, 2014 at 6:12 PM ^

include a Gif of the dunk attempt by OSU at the end of the Wisco game for next week's feature? (Sorry to go a bit OT) I literally laughed out loud watching him writhe on the floor in embarrassment after that fail.


February 1st, 2014 at 6:43 PM ^

While IU has certainly been a Chamber of Horrors for many past Michigan teams (still remember watching on TV the losses there in 75-76 (Benson tip in to force OT), 88-89 (Jay F-ing Edwards 3 pt), etc.), I expect us to show the poise we had at both Wisky and MSU. 

Win or lose, 8-1 at the halfway point is way above I'd think this team would be after Mitch went out and we had 4 losses.

The one thing we always seem to run into there is foul trouble. Let's hope tomorrow is different.



February 1st, 2014 at 6:46 PM ^

like OSU at home to PSU and Wisky at home to NW.

This guy has always been a great Xs and Os guy and has really done wonders with this team so far. 

As for rankings, just hoping we get a good seed and another shot at Arizona.


February 1st, 2014 at 6:59 PM ^

Surprising to see such a low KenPom spread... I'm slightly worried about that.  But prevent Will Sheehy from being his 2013 self and we should be good.

The Dirty Nil

February 1st, 2014 at 7:40 PM ^

I'm optimistic that Beilein and the kids are going to have a strong performance after that ugly game against Purdue, and they'll take better care of the ball. I'm thinking UM by 10.


February 1st, 2014 at 11:19 PM ^

Has anybody else EVER noticed that Tom Crean has a problem with keeping his pants up? Whenever he gets antsy and/or angry, he tugs at his belt repeatedly and rapidly. Go Blue! Michigan by 11


February 1st, 2014 at 11:57 PM ^

Reading InsideTheHall's preview, they literally spent the first part of it talking about how IU is actually less experienced than Michigan is, as the KenPom experience ranking is wrong.

Uhm, who cares?


February 2nd, 2014 at 6:09 AM ^

Has my respect. But I think it's more relevant when both teams are playing at their highest level. Are we doomed for a letdown? In Beilein we trust. Mich by 2.

Bobby Boucher

February 2nd, 2014 at 3:08 PM ^

I blame you Brian for this shitty loss.  Your words "Indiana can't shoot" somehow jinxed us and caused forces of unimagineable power to take the Big Ten leading scorer  and turn him into Shaq outside the paint!