Michigan travels to Indiana tonight in a showdown of top seed hopefuls in the Big Ten. Both teams are among the best shooting teams in the country, but the game will likely come down to the defensive side, and an injury on Michigan’s front line.
Teams can score against Michigan anyway, an outstanding skill group of starters, but one lacking a dominant shot blocking force. Michigan gets it done defensively by limiting second chances and rebounding. Their tallest starter, center Jordan Morgan, sprained his ankle last Sunday, and missed the mid-week game against Northwestern. He may play tonight, but will be limited by the ankle injury if he does.
The primary matchup that Indiana had to take advantage of anyway was 7’0″ Cody Zeller going against the Michigan front line. With Morgan’s status uncertain, Michigan will need more minutes out of Jon Horford and Mitch McGary. Those two players give them their best height and shot blocking ability, and the duo probably gives them the best defensive matchup against Zeller anyway. If Zeller requires too much defensive attention or the Michigan young big men get in foul trouble, Indiana’s shooters led by Jordan Hulls will have a big game.
At the other end, Michigan’s Trey Burke may very well be the Player of the Year as we head in to February. His play at point guard is the reason why Michigan is among the top 4 teams. If Michigan hopes to win in Bloomington for just the third time in the last twenty-three trips, he’ll have to be the best player on the court.
It should have been three wins in the last 22 games, but this game stands out in the series to me, a game I remember watching as a kid. (thanks for all the readers who pointed me to the video). To get you ready for the game, here is Jay Edwards beating Michigan with a buzzer beater in 1989. Don’t worry, Michigan fans, if it happens again, it is not the end. That was the year the Wolverines won the national championship.