IU Insider Blog: Would IU like a rematch?

If Indiana plays in the No. 8 vs. No. 9 game Thursday at the Big Ten Tournament the winner of that game would face Michigan on Friday. Based on how IU has played against the Wolverines in two games this season, is it possible the Hoosiers are hoping they play the top-rated team in the conference?

After Indiana closed out the Big Ten regular season Saturday with an 84-80 loss to Michigan, it seemed like this was as good a time as any to play the ‘What if?' game.

Here are the big if's in play.

IF Indiana ends up as the No. 8 or No. 9 seed in next week's Big Ten Tournament (which at the moment seems likely). The Hoosiers could possibly be the No. 7 seed but the 8-9 game which would be Thursday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse at Noon simply seems like the best bet.

IF If Indiana could beat that first opponent (probably Illinois) on Thursday in the No. 8 vs. No. 9 game would be the next major qualifier.

And finally, IF the Hoosiers play the way they have in both games against Michigan this season … here is my first bold prediction.

There's no reason to think that Indiana couldn't knock off these same Wolverines when the two teams would face in the Big Ten quarterfinals Friday at Noon in the conference tournament.

There really aren't that many if's when you think about it. The first one is that IU has to be the No. 8 or the No. 9 seed. If somehow IU was the No. 7 seed the Hoosiers would slip down to the 6:30 p.m. slot and play the No. 2 seed in the tournament instead of Michigan.

But as crazy as it is to say, I have to think that Indiana would probably prefer to play top-ranked Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament than most other teams. Especially teams like Michigan State or Wisconsin in particular. But if IU falls into the No. 8 vs. No. 9 game then Michigan State and Wisconsin would both be in the other side of the bracket and the Hoosiers wouldn't potentially play either of them until the title game.

Still, for whatever reason Indiana has played really well against Michigan this season.

The first time the two teams met on Feb. 2, Indiana came away with a 63-52 victory. In that one, IU completely had Nik Stauskas frustrated and that was a big part of IU's winning formula.

Saturday, he had a game-high 21 and was clearly much more in his element. But you know what? Even with Stauskas playing at a high level and Glenn Robinson III doing the same, Indiana hung right in there with Michigan the entire game. In fact for the first 25 minutes or so, Michigan had only led twice in the game (at 9-7 and 50-48).

And this one was at Michigan, a building where the Wolverines were 15-3 this season. This was against the outright Big Ten champion Michigan Wolverines. This was one Senior Night when this team desperately wanted to win for its lone senior, Jordan Morgan.

This one came against a Michigan team that wanted to break a three-game losing streak against IU and do so in front of its home fans.

There were a lot of reasons why Michigan wanted to put its best foot forward.

And still, even when the Wolverines tried to pull away late and took an 11-point lead with under 5 minutes to play, Indiana found a way to rally. The Hoosiers used a 13-2 run to tie the game at 75-all with less than 90 seconds to play.

Believe me, if Indiana does indeed get a third shot at this Michigan team the Wolverines will have a lot of things to think about. They will think about the debacle at Assembly Hall where IU handed them their first conference loss after opening the Big Ten 8-0.

And they'll think about how well Indiana played Saturday in a game that Michigan was barely able to hang on to the victory for.

In a game where Michigan had a lot to play for.

I would not be the least surprised if Indiana found a way to get to that Friday game against Michigan if the Hoosiers were able to knock off the Wolverines based on what I have seen from IU in the first two meetings against Michigan.

What do you think? As always, I'd love to hear your opinion on this one.

Follow Terry Hutchens at Twitter.com/Foxsportshutch


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