IU Insider Blog: One game at a time

Talk radio was abuzz Tuesday about whether Michigan would potentially rest players if it wrapped up the Big Ten title Tuesday night, which it did. First of all, no that's not going to happen. But second, Indiana has bigger things to worry about with a good Nebraska team coming to town tonight.

I've had to smile a little bit the last few days at what seems to be a familiar thread in on both talk radio and conversations I've had with friends.

The topic is Indiana-Michigan basketball and what the Hoosiers should expect when they face the Wolverines in Ann Arbor on Saturday.

And the assertion is that if Michigan was able to wrap up the outright Big Ten title on Tuesday night against Illinois would the Wolverines potentially be a position to rest their players when the Hoosiers come to town on Saturday?

My reaction to this the first time I heard it and the 78th time now that I've thought about it has been the same: Really?

First of all, Michigan did indeed go on the road Tuesday night and rout the Illini. The Wolverines won 84-53 to improve to 14-3 in conference play and win the Big Ten outright with one game to go.

But I think for Indiana fans to believe that IU is going to get anything less than Michigan's full effort Saturday evening in the Crisler Center is crazy talk.

Yes, Michigan has won the Big Ten title outright and has clinched the No. 1 seed in next week's Big Ten Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

But there is simply too much history here for the Wolverines to put it on cruise control when Saturday rolls around.

Consider:

*** Indiana has won three games in a row in the series. The Hoosiers swept Michigan a year ago and won the first meeting this season in Assembly Hall, 63-52. At the time, that was Michigan's first Big Ten loss after opening the conference with an 8-0 record.

*** As part of sweeping Michigan last season, the Hoosiers pulled out the dramatic 72-71 victory on the last day of the regular season in the Crisler Center. A Michigan win would have given the Wolverines a share of the Big Ten title with a 13-5 record. Instead the Hoosiers were able to celebrate on Michigan's floor and win the Big Ten title outright.

*** That was also the scene of the memorable exchange between Tom Crean and former IU and current Michigan assistant Jeff Meyer. The two coaches in question may be beyond that exchange but I'm guessing the fans in Crisler may have their say on Saturday.

And it's more than all of that, too. Michigan still has a lot to play for, most notably where it will end up being seeded in the NCAA Tournament. And a loss to Indiana – at home – could potentially be a smudge on Michigan's NCAA resume.

Someone called the Dan Dakich Show on the 1070-The Fan Tuesday and said that in a similar circumstance when Bob Knight was the IU coach that he had rested some of his players after IU had wrapped up a title. But as Dakich pointed out, it's a different time. When Knight was IU's coach, except for the last few years of his reign, there was no Big Ten Tournament. And the fight for tournament seeding was different, too.

But enough about Michigan and what the Wolverines will be thinking Saturday.

For Indiana to even worry about the possibilities of what a win over Michigan could mean the Hoosiers need to take care of business tonight against a good Nebraska team. The future is now. IU needs to live in the moment.

If IU can beat Nebraska tonight on Senior Night it will take a solid step forward. The Hoosiers would be 8-9 in Big Ten play with one game to go. I know in my own preseason predictions I had the Hoosiers finishing 9-9 in conference play. But in my scenario I would have had them at 9-8 going to Michigan not the other way around (Did someone say Penn State at home?).

But that game is behind them and IU needs to live in the present and find a way to beat the Cornhuskers. Do that, and all of the talk from Wednesday night on will be if the Hoosiers have any chance at all to go up to Michigan for a second year in a row and knock off the Wolverines.

If Noah Vonleh is healthy, I think Indiana would have a chance especially if the Hoosiers were on a three-game winning streak.

But again, first things first. Indiana has business to take care of tonight against Nebraska and then we can talk about the regular season finale in Ann Arbor.

Follow Terry Hutchens at Twitter.com/Foxsportshutch


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