It was a run so epic, it might just have tripped a curse-wire somewhere in the mystical land of the basketball gods.
With 9:05 left in the first half, Michigan’s Duncan Robinson connected on a 3-pointer off an assist from Derrick Walton, Jr. to put the Wolverines up 24-20 against Indiana on Feb. 2, 2016 at the Crisler Center in Ann Arbor.
To that point in the 2015-16 season, there were questions about first place IU’s strength of schedule. They were seemingly answered over the next ten minutes of game clock time.
From a Thomas Bryant layup with 8:43 left in the first half to an OG Anunoby 3-pointer with 18:58 left in the second, Indiana did the unthinkable.
The Hoosiers closed the opening half on a 25-0 run to take a 45-24 lead into halftime. During that stretch Indiana hit 10-of-13 shots while the Wolverines missed all 12 of their attempts from the field.
Anunoby’s early second half three made it a 28-0 Indiana run, before it mercifully came to an end when Robinson made another jumper.
“That’s happened so rarely that it’s hard to put into words,” Michigan head coach John Beilein said after the game.
Michigan’s scoreless drought lasted 10:29, and that 24-20 lead had become an insurmountable 48-24 deficit.
“Couldn’t stop them,” Beilein said. “Just couldn’t stop them.”
But Beilein’s Wolverines could stop Indiana five weeks later at the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis, when they upset the No. 1 seeded Hoosiers after a Kameron Chatman 3-pointer at the buzzer.
And since then, things have only gotten worse for IU.
How much worse?
Much, much worse.
In total Michigan has won nine-straight in the series, with all of the last eight by double-figure margins.
The Wolverines have seemingly played angry since that 28-0 Indiana run. They’ve outscored the Hoosiers by a total of 151 points during their nine-game winning streak against IU, an average margin of victory of 16.8 points per game.
Indiana is on their third head coach during Michigan’s run. Tom Crean lost his last three to the Wolverines. Archie Miller went 0-5. And now Mike Woodson is 0-1.
Beyond the 28-0 run, there were other variables that night in Ann Arbor that could have disrupted the space-time continuum and sent Indiana hurtling into a dark, winless future abyss against the Wolverines.
Max Bielfeldt made his return to Ann Arbor that day with Indiana after three seasons wearing the maize and blue. John Harbaugh, brother of Michigan football coach Jim, was there at the Crisler Center in IU apparel, rooting on his brother-in-law Crean.
During Michigan’s winning streak, strange things have happened suggesting a cosmic influence.
In 2017 Michigan routed IU 90-60 for their largest margin of victory in the series in 19 years.
The Wolverines’ win on Jan. 6, 2019 was the first of 12 losses in 13 tries for an IU team that entered that contest with a 12-2 record.
Just weeks later the shot clock at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall gave out in a game in which IU shot 28 percent from the field. Now retired IU public address announcer Chuck Crabb called out the shot clock over the microphone.
In 2020 De’Ron Davis went a head-scratching 9-of-9 from the field — in a game IU lost by 24. His teammates made just 19-of-52 shots.
Tomorrow they are meeting again — back where the losing streak started. On that March day in 2016 it was Michigan in desperate need of a win to reach the NCAA Tournament.
Now Indiana finds itself on the bubble, hoping for a win over Michigan to salvage their fleeting NCAA Tournament hopes.
But to avoid seeing their bubble get popped, Indiana may have to break a curse.
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