4 storylines for IU’s game vs. Michigan

1. Michigan looks vulnerable
The Wolverines are contenders for the Big Ten title, having won 18 of their first 19 games. But Michigan hasn’t looked like an elite team lately. It looks like a good team capable of playing great. Sometimes, that’s enough. But the Wolverines have also looked sluggish, dropping their first game of the season to Wisconsin last Saturday before requiring a buzzer-beater from Charles Matthews to outlast Minnesota on Tuesday. Offensively, the Wolverines have recently been prone to prolonged droughts as their shooting touch has evaporated. Their freshman sensation, forward Ignas Brazdeikis, has looked uneven as teams have figured out a scouting report. Altogether, Michigan looks beatable right now. It’s up to the Hoosiers to pounce.

2. Livers is back for Michigan
Back spasms forced Isaiah Livers to miss the first game between IU and Michigan on Jan. 6. But the Wolverines’ sixth man has played in each of the team’s past four games, giving Michigan a versatile reserve capable of guarding multiple positions on defense and playing through multiple spots on offense. Livers can spell Charles Matthews at the three, Brazdeikis at the four or Jon Teske at the five. “He gives them the ability to play small with five 3-point shooters on the floor and mismatches,” IU coach Archie Miller said. “They have a great lineup there, so to speak, with their small ball, and they are very versatile defensively with that type of quickness and speed.”

3. Recreating energy
The first meeting between these teams was equal parts frustrating and encouraging for Indiana. The Hoosiers started poorly, saw Juwan Morgan and Romeo Langford pick up early fouls and fell behind by as many as 19 points midway through the first half. But IU outscored Michigan 50-42 across the final 30 minutes of regulation, playing through Morgan and Langford while tapping into the second-half grittiness that helped the team to a handful of notable non-conference wins. Indiana is one of only two teams this season that have scored more than a point per possession against Michigan, finishing with 1.07 ppp in the Jan. 6 contest. Given IU’s recent offensive struggles, facing one of the top defensive teams in the country doesn’t seem like a good matchup right now. But perhaps Indiana learned something in the first game that it might be able to apply to the rematch.

4. Phinisee vs. Simpson
Indiana didn’t have its point guard during the first meeting, with Rob Phinisee still stuck in concussion protocol. Phinisee has now played in each of IU’s past four games, starting the last two as he continues to resemble the player he was during the season’s first two months. But Friday will be one of his toughest matchups of the season. Zavier Simpson is an elite defender and an all-around All-Big Ten-caliber player. Getting the upper hand in a matchup with Simpson won’t be easy, but if Phinisee holds his own against Michigan’s junior point guard, it could help pave the way to a Hoosier victory.

14 comments

  1. Our season…in terms of any hope for NCAA tournament play, likely hinges on this game.
    But I did overlook one positive for the Hoosiers during this bad “skid” …We are operating on a newly expanded BigTen season (now 20 games instead of 18). We still have 12 more conference games. Our back half of the schedule is heavily weighted with more games at Assembly(though still against some very solid Big opponents).

    Upset Michigan tonight…and we still have 11 games to build momentum. Still a shot to right the ship.

  2. Now, IU has a gum/tobacco road chewing coach. So does Michy. AM is chomping harder. Maybe, it helps him not be sporadic on the side line.

  3. It’s time to pull a Bobby and yank all 5 starters off the court…Oh, wait, I don’t think we have five replacements on the bench.

  4. Bigs men needed. Does IU score before the snow melts? I was right, then wrong, then right again as don’t think Smith good enough.
    So, Phinisee, JW, and Langford, then three 6’9”+ high 4 stars+ needed, and high 4 stars+ shooters needed. Pretty much a whole new team.

  5. TRAINWRECK? How about PLANEWRECK? What a complete mess. 3 blind mice officiating it. Same crew as Saints game?

  6. Does Langford get honorable mention when all big ten teams are announced?
    Maybe he is first team freshman all big ten.

  7. I’ve seen better shooting in the HYPER. Officiating is just really bad now. Every league has bad officials. That is the only constant in college basketball. Bad refs.

  8. Mr. New Albany….or Mr. All New Boloney?

    Sorry, gotta try to find some humor. Call for the lifeboats…Women and children first (meaning our players).

  9. Good things to be said : This is Fitzner and McRoberts last year. Justin Smith is becoming the NEW Devonte Green… 20% shooting in first half. 3 fo 14 from 3 land makes IU 13 for 69 last 4 games. IU gets NO respect for their offense because IU has players that cant shoot any better than 5th grade elementary school players……give us the 3 star players that can shoot and understand the game instead of players that play to the headlines.

  10. This is clearly one of the worst performances and worst efforts from an IU men’s basketball team that I’ve ver witnessed. This performance was shameful, this effort was a disgrace and an embarrassment. With five minutes left in the game, why are any fans left in Assembly Hall? In the span of four minutes in the second half, IU went 0 for 7 with layups and 3-pointers. An IU guard missed an uncontested layup!

    Can’t help but wonder if Archie has lost this team. I have no idea what has caused this collapse, but today’s performance goes way beyond a depleted roster. They played far worse and gave far less effort than Crean’s first team consisting of walk-ons. Before I tuned it off in disgust, IU had the same five players on the floor that started the season, and clearly they’re worse today than they were two months ago. Michigan’s players looked disappointed, as if they’ve lost all respect for their opponents.

    Another performance like this one, and Romeo can forget about being a lottery pick. He may not be on IU’s team next season, but that won’t because he got drafted int he first round.

  11. This is an “every man for himself” team. I didn’t see it until the Maryland game coming out of halftime. But it is ever present now. Get ball, shoot ball. No teamwork. Had to be near a IU record low for assists. And no leadership to grab teammates by the jersey & correct course.

    Romeo is now all about Romeo. He wants out & is trying to pad stats for the draft. Morgan is doing the same, but continues to deliver.

    There is no mental toughness on this team. If there was, there may be a bad game or two, but at least you improve something as simple as FT shooting. This team needs a good ass chewing and a players only meeting with someone throwing chairs around. But, that isn’t going to happen…..

    At least my life is free now, as I don’t need to plan my schedule around watching this team.

  12. T. Moren and IU ladies though limited talent wise they will give good effort. They smoothered Michigan big girls on defense and won game as J Penn drained 3 after 3. I like ladies college baskeball now days. More perspective and pure game like mens game was once up on a time. Those days in mens baskeball are long gone. Ladies are in college to get education and play ball for most part.
    I keep saying Langford is not a lottery pick. He is not even on first or second all big ten team. Maybe, round 2.
    TJ IU roster is half 3 and 2 star players and that is a lot of the problem. One 5 star and a couple 4 stars and no really talented bigs to help JM and no college level shooters.

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