Indiana might be catching Michigan at the wrong time.
Already losers of five of six true road contests, IU arrives in Ann Arbor to face a Wolverine squad that appears to be rounding into form.
After enduring a suspension to star point guard Zavier Simpson and a prolonged absence by forward Isaiah Livers due to injury, Michigan has all of their key contributors back.
With five players scoring in double figures, Michigan has won four of five games. Now the Hoosiers will start a stretch of four road games in their next five contests with a trip to the Crisler Center to face the surging Wolverines.
GAME DAY ESSENTIALS
Indiana (16-8, 6-7) at Michigan (15-9, 6-7)
- Tip time: Sunday / 1 p.m. ET
- Location: Crisler Center (12,707), Ann Arbor, Mich.
- Television: CBS (Stream) / Tom McCarthy and Dan Bonner
- Series: Indiana leads 107-62 (Last meeting: Michigan won 69-46 on Jan. 25, 2019)
- Point Spread: Vegas likes Michigan by around 7 points. KenPom also likes Michigan by 7.
- Tickets (Seat Geek affiliate link)
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
Michigan Statistical Leaders
- Isaiah Livers (F) 13.4 ppg
- Jon Teske (C) 12.6 ppg
- Zavier Simpson (G) 12.5 ppg
- Jon Teske (C) 7.6 rpg
- Franz Wagner (G) 5.3 rpg
- Zavier Simpson (G) 8.0 apg
- Franz Wagner (G) 1.3 spg
- Jon Teske (C) 1.8 bpg
A look at KenPom No. 18 Michigan’s noteworthy metrics
Solid with Simpson. Michigan rarely coughs up the ball with senior point guard Zavier Simpson running the show. In Big Ten play the Wolverines have a league best 14.1 percent turnover rate, and they are only giving up steals on 4.9 percent of possessions. Simpson also has a 44.1 percent assist rate, which comes in at No. 4 in the country.
Nothing from three. Michigan’s commitment to their defensive style might be tested. The Wolverines run opponents off the three-point line with only 27.8 percent of their opponents total field goal attempts coming from long range. That is the No. 8 mark in the country. With the opposition on the move, teams are getting to the paint and the foul line against Michigan, with two-pointers and free throws making up 56.9 (No. 1) percent and 19.2 percent (No. 3), respectively, of the point distribution scored against the Wolverines in conference games. Indiana would likely be happy to get the vast majority of their points from the paint and the foul line.
No. 3 in Big Ten offensive efficiency. With Simpson back taking care of the ball and Livers healthy again, the Wolverines are likely better offensively than even this mark suggests. Michigan has averaged 78 points over their last two games after struggling at times offensively when their stars were out of the lineup. Michigan particularly struggled to make three-pointers during a stretch where they lost 8 of 12. Livers is shooting 45.7 percent from long range, and Justin Smith is likely to be tasked with slowing him down.
More game coverage:
HOOSIERS NEED TO FIND THEMSELVES ON THE ROAD
It is no secret. Indiana has struggled mightily in true road games this season.
The Hoosiers are 1-5 in away games, with the lone win coming at Nebraska. In their five road losses, IU has been outscored 70-56, and a few of those games could have been much worse if not for garbage time scoring bursts by the Hoosiers.
With their NCAA Tournament hopes on the line, now Indiana will go on the road for four of the next five games.
“We definitely have not been right on the road, head coach Archie Miller said.
“And hopefully down the back stretch, which we have a few to go, we can play better on the road. And got to be more together and tougher to be able to go into Michigan on Sunday and have a chance. And that’s what we’ll focus on now.”
If all else fails, there is one strength of this IU team that should travel.
Indiana is No. 12 in the country with a 7.5 rebounding margin, but prior to outrebounding Iowa by 11 on Thursday the Hoosiers had only been plus two collectively in rebounds during their four game losing streak.
Miller knows that a dominant effort on the glass can be an equalizer for this team. Particularly on the offensive end, rebounding serves as a gateway for other things that the Hoosiers have done well.
“When we’re rebounding the ball, especially on the offensive end, that’s how we generate free throw attempts, that’s how we generate the bonus,” Miller said. “That’s how guys aren’t playing as much in the first half because they’re in foul trouble. Rebounding is the whole key. Rebounding has been good up until about the last two and a half weeks; we haven’t been a good rebounding team.”
Michigan is a middle-of-the-road team on the boards, coming in at No. 145 nationally with a plus one rebounding margin.
In Big Ten games the Wolverines are No. 5 in the league, allowing offensive rebounds on 26.5 percent of misses by the opposition. Indiana is No. 2 on the offensive glass, rebounding 33 percent of their misses.
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