Indiana looks to stay in post season hunt

The Indiana Hoosiers travel to Ann Arbor, MI on Sunday to face off against the Michigan Wolverines. Both teams are struggling at this point in the season, but the Hoosiers have a good chance to steal a road win this weekend. The Wolverines have lost nine straight games, starting with a loss in Bloomington in January. Michigan has been losing key players all year, and that the absence of several of these players will no doubt have an effect on the outcome of the game

After last years NIT championship, the Michigan Wolverines were coming into 2005 expecting to play their way into the NCAA tournament. Things haven't exactly worked out as coach Tommy Amaker was hoping they would. Lester Abram was expected to be the team leader and a big time scorer for Michigan, but instead he has sat out all season with a shoulder injury. The injury bug has camped out at Ann Arbor this year, as nine different players have been injured on the year, missing a total of 71 games, and forcing Amaker to go with 13 different starting lineups. The most recent trouble has not been due to injury, but due to legal troubles.

Daniel Horton had shouldered much of the load left by Abram's injury; however he is currently under investigation for domestic violence, and has been suspended from the team indefinitely. It is unsure when he will be back for the Wolverines, as all decisions will be made by head coach Tommy Amaker. Team leadership has since been willed to guard Dion Harris, and the sophomore is averaging 13.4 points per game. Graham Brown and Courtney Sims have been serviceable on the interior, however neither can dominate the game.

Indiana has won seven straight games against Michigan, and 10 of their last 11 meetings. The Hoosiers however are just 1-7 on the road this year, so something will have to give in this matchup. Leading scorer, Bracey Wright, is listed as questionable for the game, however he was practicing with the team this week, doing the same drill as the other players. Even without Wright in the game, though, Indiana should win this basketball game, but it won't be pretty. Michigan averages just 61.7 points per game, and only 56.2 in conference play. The Hoosiers have been pacing themselves too, averaging 62.3 on the year, and 62 points in conference. This will be a slow game without a ton of scoring, but if Indiana exploits Michigan's weaknesses, it can win the game.

One of the major weaknesses of the Wolverines is their inability to control the basketball. They are averaging 16 turnovers per game, and that includes many games with Horton in the lineup. Michigan runs an erratic offense that is about freedom and flow, however the flow has been jammed this year. The Hoosiers will have to interrupt the offense and fight through screens to force bad shots and turnovers. They can not allow Michigan's athletic forwards in Petway and Sims to dominate the interior, and will have to play them very physically. Michigan will have the height advantage, so DJ White and Robert Vaden must deny their men the ball.

Neither team rebounds the ball particularly well, but with Michigan having a height advantage; Indiana will have to block out to have the rebounding advantage. If Indiana can outrebound Michigan, they will greatly limit the amount of damage that can be done by the Wolverine's forwards. The Hoosiers are more talented at the guard positions, and should be able to control the game with their perimeter play.

Gametime is set for 3:38pm on Sunday and will be nationally televised on CBS. The game will also be carried on the IU radio network with Don Fischer handling the play-by-play.

Fearless Projection This is a crucial game for any type of postseason hopes for Indiana, and they should have the extra incentive to win this game. They will come out with determination, and win the game 65-58, with Wright playing some time off the bench.

Hoosiers Record Indiana is 11-11 on the year, and 6-5 in Big Ten play. They have probably been eliminated from the NCAA tournament, but are still trying to make their way into the NIT.

Peegs.com Top Stories