Ann Arbor, MI – A pair of ranked foes in the Big Ten Conference square off in Ann Arbor this evening, as No. 20 Indiana comes calling on No. 23 Michigan.
Indiana started the season impressively, jumping out to a 12-0 record before suffering its first defeat at Michigan State in the conference opener on December 28. The Hoosiers bounced back to win their next three, but after that coach Tom Crean's club lost 4-of-5. IU is coming off a 103-89 victory over Iowa in its last outing, and while the Hoosiers are 17-5 on the year, they are just 3-4 in true road games.
Michigan too got off to a sensational start to the 2011-12 campaign, streaking out to a 12-2 mark before crashing back to Earth with a 4-4 mark since. The Wolverines are fresh off a demoralizing 64-49 loss at Ohio State on Sunday, and this bout is the second in a three-game stretch the team will play against Top-25 competition -- at No. 9 Michigan State this Sunday being the last. The Maize and Blue are a perfect 12-0 at home this season, and coach John Beilein's club has won 13 straight at Crisler Arena overall.
Indiana owns a commanding 101-55 lead in the all-time series with Michigan, but things have been pretty even of late as the teams have split the last eight meetings. The Hoosiers won the most recent encounter, taking a 73-71 decision at home on January 5 of this year.
Indiana is one of the more potent offensive teams in the Big Ten, as it averages 79.5 ppg in hitting 50.1 percent of its field goal attempts, which includes a 43.8 percent showing from three-point range. The Hoosiers are also 73.8 percent accurate at the charity stripe, and they own favorable margins in both rebounding (+3.1) and turnovers (+1.7) as well. Defensively, the team yields 65.8 ppg, with the opposition hitting their field goals 42.4 percent of the time, which includes a 32.7 percent showing from beyond the arc. Cody Zeller (15.2 ppg, 6.1 rpg) is IU's leading scorer and rebounder, while Christian Watford (12.7 ppg, 5.7 rpg), Jordan Hulls (11.9 ppg, 3.2 apg) and Victor Oladipo (10.2 ppg, 5.2 rpg) round out the unit's double-digit scorers. In the 103-point outburst against Iowa, Zeller scored a career-high 26 points to lead six Hoosiers in double figures, and Indiana shot 55.2 percent from the field while converting 25-of-31 free throws. IU won the rebounding battle, 37-22, handed out 20 assists, and scored 21 points off 17 Hawkeye turnovers.
Michigan isn't quite the offensive juggernaut its counterpart tonight is, but the team is shooting 45.9 percent from the field, and has made good on 34.3 percent of its three-point tries. The Wolverines boast just double-digit scorers in the form of Tim Hardaway, Jr. (15.2 ppg, 3.7 rpg) and Trey Burke (14.1 ppg, 5.0 apg), although Zack Novak (9.0 ppg, 4.7 rpg) and Evan Smotrycz (8.6 ppg, 5.5 rpg) are close to joining the ranks thanks to both hitting better than 40 percent of their three-point attempts. From a defensive standpoint, UM is allowing just 61.1 ppg on typical shooting outputs of 42.1 percent overall and 35.4 percent from downtown, and the team comes into this contest with positive differentials in both rebounding (+1.8) and turnovers (+1.4) as well. Michigan scored a season-low 49 points in its recent outing at Ohio State, as Hardaway, Jr. and Burke tallied 15 and 13 points, respectively, as the only Wolverines to reach double figures in the loss. The team shot just 35.8 percent from the field, while the Buckeyes claimed a 15-3 edge in points from the foul line and a 38-29 advantage on the glass.