Tip: Thursday at noon
Location: Assembly Hall
Broadcast crew: Dave O’Brien and Jay Bilas
Michigan (6-5) will open the Big Ten season on New Years Eve at Indiana (6-6). The Hoosiers are fresh off a 90-52 win over Byrant University. However, they suffered a terrible loss in the game. Freshman guard Maurice Creek suffered a broken left knee and will require season ending surgery. Creek is Indiana’s leading scorer (16.4) and had knocked down 30 of 67 triples (45%). That is a big blow to a rebuilding Indiana club.
Indiana’s second leading scorer is freshman forward Christian Watford, who comes in averaging 12.4 points and 6 rebounds per game. Sophomore guard Verdell Jones III is averaging 11.8 points, 4.7 assists, and 1.2 steals per game.
Three weeks ago, Tom Crean’s young Hoosiers squad defeated Pitt in the Jimmy V Classic, but they have also lost to Loyola (Md) and Boston University.
Michigan defeated Indiana in Bloomington last year for the first time in 15 years. In that game Michigan stormed back from a 20 point second half deficit to win in overtime.
It looks as though John Beilein will be asking his starters to log a lot of minutes this season. The starting five consisting of Stu Douglass, Laval Lucas-Perry, Zack Novak, Manny Harris, and DeShawn Sims logged 145 of a possible 200 minutes against Coppin State and 157 of a possible 200 minutes at Kansas. Darius Morris and Zack Gibson will round out Michigan’s primary 7-man rotation. Anthony Wright and Matt Vogrich will play, but their minutes will likely be scattered and scarce, unless they get hot from downtown.
Stu Douglass has thrived in the two games since he was anointed a starter. In those contests Stu has hit 8-17 on his three-pointers and has handed out 7 assists against just 1 turnover.
The keys for Michigan will be to establish DeShawn Sims in the post and that they drain 8-10 triples. The Wolverines will also have to continue playing with more passion and energy on the defensive end. If they can accomplish those objectives, complimented by Manny Harris doing his thing, they have a chance to win at Indiana in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1985-86.
What to watch for
- Indiana is a very young team and they are averaging 16 turnovers per game. If Michigan can execute the 1-3-1 defense like they did at Kansas it could lead to a lot of transition points.
- Stu Douglass and Zack Novak both hail from Indiana and will want to play well in front of their family and friends.
- The recipe for a big game from DeShawn Sims is for him to establish himself in the post and then step out and knock down some triples. He seems to thrive on going inside-out and not outside-in.
Prediction: Losing Maurice Creek really hurts Indiana. This will be their first game without him. Michigan has already played tough road games at Utah and Kansas and will be ready for the Assembly Hall crowd. I mentioned yesterday that Michigan is primed to go on a run and this is where that run is going to start. Michigan 75 Indiana 65
Manny Harris: 20.1
DeShawn Sims: 16.1
Laval Lucas-Perry: 7.2
Manny Harris: 7.5
DeShawn Sims: 7.2
Zack Novak: 4.7
Manny Harris: 5.1
Stu Douglass: 2.7
Darius Morris: 2.5
Manny Harris: 1.9
Zack Novak: 1.5
DeShawn Sims: 1.4
Stu Douglass: 17-56 (30%)
Laval Lucas-Perry: 15-41 (37%)
Manny Harris: 15-55 (27%)