michigan-wolverines

The Hoosiers travel to Ann Arbor this Sunday to face off with the #2 ranked Michigan Wolverines (#4 Kenpom). This will undoubtedly be the toughest matchup for the Hoosiers since traveling to Durham to face Duke.

So far this season the Wolverines are averaging 73.2 ppg at a clip of 46.7% while holding their opponents to 55.1 ppg on just 38.4% shooting from the field. Compare this to Indiana averaging 78.9 ppg on 52.9% shooting and holding opponents to 64.0 ppg on 40% shooting.

Both teams stress defense, so this game will likely come down to which team makes the fewest mistakes. Given IU’s turnover woes this season, they will need to take care of the ball if they want to leave Ann Arbor with a victory.

Here’s everything you need to know about this weekend’s contest:

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Meet the Wolverines

Departing Players

  • Moritz Wagner – 6’11” / 245 lbs / Forward / Junior – Berlin, Germany. Drafted by the Lakers.
  • Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman – 6’4” / 190 lbs / Guard / Senior – Allentown, PA.
  • Jaaron Simmons – 6’1” / 185 lbs / Guard / Graduate Student – Dayton, OH.
  • Duncan Robinson – 6’8” / 215 lbs / Guard / Fifth Year – New Castle, NH.
  • Ibi Watson – 6’5” / 200 lbs / Guard-Forward / Sophomore -Pickerington, OH.

Projected Starters

  • Ignas Brazedeikis – 6’7” / 215 lbs / Forward / Freshman – Oakville, Ontario, Canada. Team leader in points per game, averaging 16.5
  • Charles Matthews – 6’6” / 205 lbs / Guard / Senior – Chicago, IL. Transferred from Kentucky his sophomore year and has played a significant role on the team since.
  • Jordan Poole – 6’5” / 195 lbs / Guard / Sophomore – Milwaukee, WI. Leads team in 3-PT FG% and FT% with 50% and 81.5%, respectively.
  • Jon Teske – 7’1” / 260 lbs / Center / Junior – Medina, OH. Team leader in Blocks and Rebounds with an avg of 2.1 blocks per game and 6.3 rebs per game.
  • Zavier Simpson – 6’0” / 190 lbs / Guard / Junior – Lima, OH. Has not missed a game in two seasons playing in 87 straight games with 33 starts. Has played the second most minutes on the team this season, behind only Jordan Poole.

The Rotation

  • Isaiah Livers – 6’7” / 235 lbs / Forward / Sophomore – Kalamazoo, MI.
  • Eli Brooks – 6’1” / 185 lbs / Guard / Sophomore – Spring Grove, PA.
  • Austin Davis – 6’10” / 245 lbs / Forward / Junior – Onsted, MI.
  • Colin Castleton – 6’11” / 210 lbs / Forward / Freshman – Daytona Beach, FL.
  • Brandon, Johns Jr. – 6’8” / 225 lbs / Forward / Freshman – East Lansing, MI.
  • David DeJulius – 6’0” / 190 lbs / Guard / Freshman – Detroit, MI.
  • CJ Baird – 6’5” / 220 lbs / Forward / Sophomore – Novi, MI.
  • Adrien Nunez – 6’6” / 205 lbs / Guard / Freshman – Brooklyn, NY.
  • Luke Wilson – 6’0” / 170 lbs / Guard / Sophomore – Boulder, CO.

Expectations for the Wolverines

Under John Beilein, the Wolverines’ brand of basketball has been one of defensive discipline, controlling the tempo of the game, and capitalizing on opponents’ turnovers. Expect this to be the game plan this Sunday for Michigan.

Kenpom has Michigan ranked #3 in terms of adjusted defense. What does this look like? Here are some figures:

  • Opp. PPG: 55.1
  • Opp. FG%: 38.4%
  • Opp. 3-PT%: 31.1%
  • Reb. Margin: +5.2
  • Turnover Margin: +3.8

One can also bet that Coach Beilein will have done his homework on IU, including their penchant for slow starts. Michigan will look to get their offense going early and force Indiana into turning the ball over. Michigan starters Ignas BrazedeikisCharles Matthews, and Jordan Poole each average double-digit points per game, which will make defending the Michigan attack difficult.

Defensively, the Wolverines will key in on Hoosier standouts Juwan Morgan and Romeo Langford in order to force someone else to beat them. IU will have to be disciplined both with and without the ball to counter the Michigan game plan. The Hoosiers will also need someone to step up and pick up the offensive slack when Juwan or Romeo are not available options.

Dating back to the 2015-16 season, the Wolverines have gone an impressive 52-8 at home (22-6 at home in Big Ten). While it is historically difficult to win on the road in the Big Ten, made all the more difficult when facing a disciplined team like Michigan, Indiana has the talent and ability to get the upset in Ann Arbor.


Injury Watch

Rob Phinisee is in concussion protocol after a head collision. The severity of his injury is currently unknown, but coach Archie Miller indicated that the team may be without him “for a while.” Hoosiers fans wait with bated breath for “Big Shot” Rob’s return.

Race Thompson is still out with a concussion. He recently began weightlifting and has done some cardio workouts. All signs indicate that he is progressing.

There is still no timetable for a return for Jerome Hunter, who is still recovering from surgery to treat a leg injury.

Isaiah Livers did not play against Penn State due to soreness from back spasms. Time will tell if he suits up against the Hoosiers this Sunday. If he does not play, his presence will be missed. Through the first 13 games, Livers has averaged almost 8 points per game on 50.7% shooting from the field, and 46.5% from 3-PT range.

What to Watch for:

  1. Michigan to dial up the defensive pressure. Indiana has made a bad habit of turning the ball over often throughout the season, especially when under pressure. Look for Michigan to interfere with passing lanes and make IU uncomfortable on the dribble.
  2. Romeo Langford getting to the free throw line. Romeo has shown an uncanny ability to draw fouls this season. IU will want to get Michigan’s starters in foul trouble early, and Romeo will be key in making this happen.
  3. The battle in the post. IU’s bigs will have their hands full defending 7’1″ Jon Teske in the post. Michigan will look to feed their center down low and win the battle in the post both in points and rebounds. IU will need to be strong on the boards and limit Michigan to one shot per possession.
  4. The absence of Mo Wagner and Muhammed-Abdul Abdur-Rahkman. Both players were huge contributors for the Wolverines last season. So far, Michigan has been able to overcome their departure excellently. But everything is different in conference play. Will IU be able to take advantage of Michigan missing this dynamic duo?
  5. Both of IU’s losses have been on the road. IU lost a hard-fought game at Arkansas by one point in the final seconds after a missed tip-in, and also were handily defeated in Durham when visiting an incredibly talented Duke squad. Will IU be able to defy expectations and come away with an upset victory over a talented Michigan team?
  6. Potential Big Ten Freshman of the Year Candidates square off. This Sunday will see two high profile Big Ten Freshman of the Year candidates Romeo Langford and Ignas Brazedeikis face off against one another. This battle may prove to be consequential in the race for this end-of-season award. No matter who wins, this should be an entertaining matchup to watch.
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