BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – A lonely college basketball season inside Simon Skojdt Assembly Hall comes to an end on Saturday when Indiana plays its final regular season home game against No. 3 Michigan.
It's a tough assignment for the Hoosiers, because not only has 17-1 Michigan been practically unbeatable all year, but they also seem to be peaking right about now, too. The Wolverines, whose only loss was at Minnesota back on Jan. 16, have won four in a row since coming off a 20-day pause because of COVID-19 issues inside the Michigan athletic program. Three of those have been against ranked teams, and this week's wins have come against No. 4 Ohio State and No. 9 Iowa.
The Hoosiers are trending in the opposite direction, blowing big leads two games in a row in ugly loss to Michigan State and Rutgers. The Hoosiers desperately need to turn things around to keep their NCAA Tournament hopes alive, but this doesn't seem to be the opponent to get healthy on.
Here's everything you need to know about Saturday's nationally televised game between Michigan and Indiana:
- Who: Michigan Wolverines (17-1, 12-1 in the Big Ten) at Indiana Hoosiers (12-11 overall, 7-9 in the Big Ten).
- When: Noon ET, Saturday, Feb. 27.
- Where: Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, Bloomington, Ind.
- Latest Line: Michigan is an 8.5-point favorite over Indiana, according to the DraftKings.com website as of 7 a.m. ET on Saturday. The over/under is 138.5.
- Poll rankings: Michigan is ranked No. 3 in the country in both the Associated Press and Coaches polls. Michigan was ranked No. 25 in the preseason poll and fell out of the rankings for two weeks (at No. 26). By Week 4, they were No. 19 and have been moving up ever since. Indiana has yet to reach the top-25 this season.
- Kenpom.com rankings: Indiana dropped another spot to No. 35 in the Kenpom rankings after Wednesday's loss at Rutgers. Michigan is No. 3.
- Series history: Indiana leads the series 107-63, but Michigan has won seven in a row in the series, with the margin of victory in the last six a whopping 19.0 points per game.
- Last meeting: Indiana lost to Michigan 89-65 on Feb. 16, 2020 in Ann Arbor.
- Last game: Indiana lost 74-63 at Rutgers on Wednesday night for their second straight loss. Michigan crushed Iowa 79-55 in Ann Arbor on Thursday night.
- TV: FOX
- Announcers: Gus Johnson (play-by-play) and Bill Raftery (color commentary)
- Radio: Indiana Radio Network
- Announcers: Don Fischer, Errek Suhr and Joe Smith
- Streaming: IUHoosiers.com/broadcast
Here are three things I want to see from the Hoosiers against Michigan on Saturday afternoon:
1. Get quality play from ALL of the guards
The barometer for whether Indiana wins or loses has mostly been determined by the play of their guards this season. When they've been good – or at least the majority have been good – Indiana has won games. But when they've been bad, it's fair to say that Indiana has no chance at all to win.
That's certainly the case on Saturday, where outstanding guard play is the ONLY way to beat Michigan. Indiana's guards have to be great defensively and push them out of their sets. And they're going to have to score.
There are concerns, of course. Armaan Franklin missed the entire second half at Rutgers Wednesday night when his nagging ankle injury flared up, and point guard Rob Phinisee is in a huge funk. In these past two games, he's a combined 0-for-13 from the field, has no points and six turnovers.
The only bright spot is senior Al Durham, who played well early against Rutgers, scoring 14 points in the first six minutes of the game at Rutgers. He needs to have a huge final game at Assembly Hall. It's a must, an absolute must. But is it probable?
2. Get the edge inside over Hunter Dickinson
There is no question that Hunter Dickinson, Michigan's 7-foot-1 center, is going to be the Big Ten's Freshman of the Year. He's won the weekly award seven times already. He's an excellent player on both ends of the floor and outplayed Luka Garza in Michigan's blowout win on Thursday.
Trayce Jackson-Davis will mix it up with him, and he's been good lately on the offensive end, scoring 34 and 21 in the past two games, and he's averaging 20.3 points and 9.5 rebounds for the season. This is a matchup that the Hoosiers need to win.
3. Handle adversity when it comes
Indiana has had a few nice comeback victories this season, but lately, they've really struggled when adversity strikes. That has to stop. And when Michigan makes a run on Saturday – and they surely will – there can't be hanging heads and people jogging back on defense. They need to fight their way through it.
That hasn't happened much lately in this rivalry. Michigan has won seven in a row in the rivalry, and have won the last six by an average of 19 points. Archie Miller is 0-4 against Michigan. Trayce Jackson-Davis said Indiana needs to play a 40-minute game, something that hasn't happened often lately.
VIDEO: Tom Brew previews Indiana-Michigan
Here is the complete six-minute interview with HoosierNow publisher Tom Brew and host Haley Jordan, previewing Saturday's game between Indiana and Michigan.
Related stories on Indiana basketball
Related Stories on Indiana Basketball:
- KARL MALONE AWARD: Indiana sophomore Trayce Jackson-Davis is one of five finalists for the Karl Malone Award, which goes to the best power forward in college basketball. CLICK HERE
- GAME STORY: Rutgers quickly erases a 15-point deficit and then blows out Indiana on Wednesday night, winning 74-63. CLICK HERE
- TOM BREW COLUMN: Defensive collapses becoming a trend, and that's a terrible sign coming down the home stretch. CLICK HERE
- TIME TO MOVE ON FROM ARCHIE MILLER: HoosiersNow publisher Tom Brew breaks down the reasons why the Archie Miller era hasn't worked after four years, and why it's time to move on. CLICK HERE