The Indiana Hoosiers are incredibly desperate for a big win. Luckily, they will have their shot on Sunday when No. 10 Michigan comes to town.
IU is 13-8 this season, but just 3-5 in the Big Ten. They lost earlier this week to Nebraska in a game the Hoosiers had thoroughly in had by halftime.
It was an effort loss on the road where the team showed a lot of immaturity. Yogi Ferrell called it a lack of confidence in the defense, and he isn’t wrong. Defense leads to offense, and that is incredibly true for the Hoosiers this season.
The result was that the Hoosiers were forced to re-watch the second half in film study multiple times this week. Hopefully Tom Crean didn’t lose his voice while yelling at them in the sessions.
IU is fielding a top 25 defense right now in terms of efficiency this season. Indiana is going to have its hands full when the Wolverines come to Bloomington. Michigan has won 10 games in a row and their last loss was against No. 1 Arizona by two.
Obviously the Wolverines are undefeated in conference play and are 16-4 overall. They had two bad losses early in the season, to Charlotte and Iowa State. Their fourth loss was at then-ranked No. 10 Duke.
Michigan is extremely dangerous on offense. The Wolverines rank third overall on offense. They only average 77 points per game, but are shooting 49-percent from the field. Basically, when they get the ball Big Blue scores.
They’re good at holding onto the ball and rarely turn it over. The only thing Michigan doesn’t do well is get to the free throw line. That will play into the Hoosiers game plan well as IU is very good at playing tight defense without drawing contact.
Public enemy number one for IU is Nik Stauskas. He averages 18 points per game and shoots 50-percent from the field. If he’s open, you can go ahead and put the points on the scoreboard. Even last season, Crean and his staff considered him extremely dangerous (second behind Wooden Award winner Trey Burke). Stauskas is firmly in the race for Big Ten Player of the Year.
The best way to beat Stauskas is to just deny him the ball. He can shoot over defenders and create his own shot, so tight defense isn’t the best way to attack him.
Defensively, Michigan is solid but nowhere near as talented as they are at the other end of the court. The Wolverines rank 60th in terms of efficiency, which heavily favors them against IU’s 184th ranked offense. Michigan is most effective at the three point line, where they hold opponents to 32-percent shooting.
IU needs to have a near perfect game to beat the Wolverines. They have to hit open jumpers, not turn the ball over, and create havoc on defense. Shutting down Stauskas will go a long way towards a win, but its not like Michigan doesn’t have other players who can score. IU has to continue to rebound well on the defensive end, and not let the Wolverines get second chances.
If Michigan comes into Bloomington and overlooks the Hoosiers then they’ll have a chance. We’ve seen plenty of times this season when IU has hung with top tier teams, like at Michigan State. IU will have to figure out a way to get over the hump on Sunday.
That said, this is likely another loss for IU. They should come into this game with a sense of desperation, but the same could be said of Thursday’s loss at Nebraska. IU doesn’t have the consistency or experience to win at any kind of consistent level in the Big Ten.
Michigan heads home with another win and pulls away from IU in the second half.