4 storylines for IU’s game at Michigan

1. Not quite 100 percent
Both IU and Michigan are dealing with injury issues ahead of Sunday’s game. On the Indiana side, point guard Rob Phinisee will miss his third consecutive game after suffering a concussion on Dec. 19. For Michigan, sixth man Isaiah Livers is nursing a back injury that could make him a game-time decision on Sunday afternoon. Without Phinisee, IU will again turn to Devonte Green, who will deal with Michigan’s Zavier Simpson, one of the best backcourt defenders in the league. Without Livers, a sophomore forward, an already-thin Michigan bench gets that much shorter. Livers is averaging 21.5 minutes per game for a Wolverines team that typically plays only seven players in the regular rotation.

2. Recent series favors Michigan
The Wolverines’ four-game winning streak over Indiana is their best run against the Hoosiers since Michigan won four in a row against IU across the 1964 to 1966 seasons. Indiana’s last win over Michigan was a memorable one on Feb. 2, 2016, when the Hoosiers strung together a 28-0 run spanning both halves to earn an 80-67 win at Crisler Center. IU’s last two trips to Ann Arbor have not been as fruitful, with Michigan winning both games with an average margin of victory of 22 points. Indiana opened as an eight-point underdog, with KenPom.com giving the Hoosiers a 21 percent chance of winning.

3. Top newcomers on display
Indiana’s Romeo Langford was the preseason favorite to earn the Big Ten’s Freshman of the Year award, and so far, the blue chip guard from New Albany is living up to his billing. In the race to claim the award, Langford has company. At Michigan, freshman forward Ignas Brazdeikis is also giving the Wolverines a jolt. The 6-foot-7 forward has started all 14 games and leads Michigan with 16.4 points per game. Brazdeikis has posted 12 double-figure shooting performances, including five 20-plus point games. He’s also grabbing 5.5 rebounds per contest and is coming off a career-best 11-rebound effort against Penn State.

4. A better start
In recent weeks, Indiana has shown an ability to overcome the poor starts that have pockmarked the first half of its season. At Crisler Center, the Hoosiers’ fortune will be tested. Indiana fell behind 12-2 during the first four minutes of last year’s game in Ann Arbor and never recovered. The Wolverines will try to contain Juwan Morgan, while asking Charles Matthews to help close the driving lanes for Romeo Langford. Without Rob Phinisee, the Hoosiers are down one of their top three players. Do they have a third scoring option capable of assisting Morgan and Langford? Getting off to a decent start will provide the foundation for answering that question throughout Sunday’s contest.