Game: #1 Michigan (20-1, 7-1) at #3 Indiana (19-2, 7-1) ESPN, 9:00 PM ET
Vegas: Indiana (-4.5)
Opponent Analysis: Indiana is a complete team, and this is the toughest test Michigan will face all year. You can say “what about the tournament?” but this is the toughest team in an extremely hostile environment that I could possibly imagine in 2012-13 college basketball. This will sound like an excuse, but the officiating will be awful. Expect to be frustrated. Expect to throw things. I recommend hiding the remote, so you don’t throw it through your television. After all, in 17 home games, Indiana has attempted TWO HUNDRED FIFTY SEVEN MORE FREE THROWS than their opponents. That’s a big number.
1) Big Men out of Foul Trouble – Indiana likes to dump it down to big man Cody Zeller and let him beat a big man down low. Jordan Morgan (assuming he plays) and Mitch McGary are both foul-prone. Getting into a situation where Bielfeldt is relied upon could be disastrous for Michigan in such a game. I
2) Take Advantage of Mismatches – Indiana likes to used Hulls and Ferrell at the same time, both of which are 6’0″ tall. Besides Burke, everyone else Michigan uses is at much taller than 6’0″. Ferrell will likely attempt to guard Burke (a tall order for any true freshman (or any player period besides Aaron Craft)), and Hulls at 6’0″ must either guard Robinson (6’6″) or Hardaway (6’6″ also). Ferrell-Burke strongly favors Michigan, as does whoever Hulls attempts to guard. Michigan must exploit these advantages to win the game.
3) Be Like Wisconsin – I don’t mean trade in talented players for redheads names Bruesewitz. But this season, Wisconsin went into Assembly Hall, didn’t care about the loud, disorderly crowd full of angry white people, didn’t care that the officials treated them horribly, and didn’t care that the odds were stacked against them. They just kept being patient on offense, waiting for their shot, making their shots, and playing tough defense without fouling (too much). If Michigan has a mental toughness that matches what Wisconsin had that night, they will win this game. If they look like a bunch of freshmen the same way they did at OSU, it ain’t happening.
Prediction: I will be in the market for a new TV after seeing Michigan get phantom fouls called against them, while Burke gets murdered repeatedly while driving the lane, and the refs swallow their whistles. You know how I feel about Sparty, and I was frustrated for them watching the same thing happen to them on Sunday. But this loss will be good for Michigan come March, as they continue to stay hungry.
Indiana 79 Michigan 75