4 storylines for Indiana-Michigan #iubb

1. Hungry Wolverines are on the bubble
A win against Indiana could give Michigan a postseason purpose. The Wolverines need a resume-building victory to receive more serious consideration for NCAA Tournament inclusion. Right now, John Beilein’s team is firmly on the bubble. Thursday’s overtime win over Northwestern was a step in the right direction, but the Wolverines need more. Saturday’s loss to Iowa in the regular-season finale was their ninth against teams in the top 50 of the RPI. Michigan has a few good wins already, including victories over Purdue, Maryland and Texas, but that won’t be enough to gain admission to the big dance. A win over IU could tilt the odds in the Wolverines’ favor.

2. Healthy Hoosiers?
Indiana coach Tom Crean offered nothing definitive regarding the statuses of Juwan Morgan and Robert Johnson, but their recoveries seem to be trending in the right direction. Crean said Wednesday that Johnson is making considerable strides in his recovery from a high ankle sprain suffered on Feb. 20. Johnson seemed to be moving well on the court after IU’s pre-Maryland walkthrough. During Sunday’s Senior Day game, Johnson sat on the bench without his usual walking boot. Meanwhile, Morgan is still being handled cautiously after suffering his latest shoulder injury in a non-contact situation Sunday. However, Crean did indicate that Morgan is close to participating fully in IU’s practices leading into today’s game.

3. Hometown showdown
Shortly after hitting his game-winning shot to lift Michigan over Northwestern on Thursday, Zak Irvin shouted, “This is my city!” The Hamilton Southeastern product and 2013 Indiana Mr. Basketball is certainly familiar with the hardwood inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse. He isn’t the only one. There are 10 Indiana natives between the two teams in this matchup, including Irvin, who scored 19 points and grabbed eight rebounds against the Wildcats. Irvin has had an up-and-down season, but Thursday was the sixth time in his last seven games where he’s finished in double figures.

4. IU can win in the paint
The Hoosiers once again own the size advantage against the Wolverines, which could lead to plenty of attention underneath the basket. In the Feb. 2 meeting between these teams, the Hoosiers scored a Big Ten-season high 44 points in the paint and out-rebounded Michigan 44-30. So getting to the rim and thriving in the post could be among they biggest keys for success in Indianapolis. Michigan forward Mark Donnal, who averaged 21 points between a pair of games late last month, has come back down to earth for the Wolverines. Donnal fouled out with just two points Thursday.