Coming off its seventh win in the past nine games, Indiana basketball hits the road to take on the Michigan Wolverines in Ann Arbor. The game will tip off at 6 p.m. and will be broadcasted on ESPN.
The Hoosiers have certainly been heating up at the right time, picking up two ranked wins in the past week against Purdue and Rutgers. Indiana picked up a signature win over Illinois on the road back in January, and looks to do the same on Saturday night. Here’s a closer look at Michigan.
Taking a look at the Wolverines
Michigan got off to an unusually slow start to begin the year, including an uncharacteristic loss to Central Michigan at home back in December. However, the Wolverines have been playing some very good basketball as of late, as they are winners of three straight. It will certainly be a challenge for Mike Woodson and company to go get a win in what should be an electric atmosphere at the Crisler Center.
Headlining the Wolverines’ starting lineup is 7-foot-1 center Hunter Dickinson. The junior from Alexandria, Virginia is averaging a very solid 18 points and eight rebounds per game, and is a huge part of what Michigan does offensively. Not only does Dickinson have an excellent finishing ability around the basket, but he’s a proven threat from beyond the arc. I’m excited to see how he goes against Trayce Jackson-Davis, who had 24 points against him in the Big Ten Tournament last year.
As good as Dickinson has been, Michigan’s supporting cast has been outstanding as well. Leading the supporting cast is standout freshman Jett Howard. And yes, that would be the son of Wolverine head coach Juwan Howard. Howard is a very persistent shooter, as he isn’t afraid to keep shooting the ball if he misses. IU will certainly need to keep an eye on him at all times and limit his touches to make sure he doesn’t make any big plays for Michigan.
However, the Hoosiers cannot afford to look over the Wolverine backcourt. Kobe Bufkin, a sophomore from Grand Rapids, Michigan, has really stepped it up for this Michigan team. Bufkin can really score at the rim and is very good at finishing with either hand, averaging 12 points per game. But the other guard, Dug McDaniel, can make plays too if you leave him open, as he really seems to be finding his groove with this team as of late. Trey Galloway and Jalen Hood-Schifino are going to have to defend the perimeter very well if Indiana wants to win this game.
Keys for the Hoosiers
I think depth will play a huge key in this game. Michigan hasn’t gotten a ton from its bench in the close games, so if Indiana can have guys score off the bench and be able to give the starting lineup some rest, I think the Hoosiers have a good shot in this one. Malik Reneau has been playing some great basketball as of late, and I think he’s certainly a player to track in this one.
The Jackson-Davis vs. Dickinson matchup will also play a huge factor in this game. The two have had some fantastic matchups over the years, especially in each team’s first game in last year’s Big Ten Tournament. I feel like whichever team’s best player shines the brightest will give their respective team a really good shot of winning on Saturday night.
And finally, IU has got to control the environment. It’s a Saturday night game, broadcasted on ESPN, and the Crisler Center will be loud. We’ve seen two different Indiana teams when it comes to playing on the road, one like we’ve seen against Xavier and Illinois, and the other like we’ve seen against Penn State and Maryland. The Hoosiers are going to need the Xavier and Illinois version of themselves if they want to come out of Ann Arbor with the win.