The Indiana Hoosiers started out the season as the top-ranked team in the nation. Barring a miraculous voting discrepancy, they’ll be back at the top on Monday.
Indiana came up with its biggest win of their campaign on Saturday night, taking down the top-ranked Michigan Wolverines in a 81-73 victory in Bloomington’s Assembly Hall. The Hoosiers (20-2, 8-1) now have sole possession of first-place in the Big Ten, while Michigan (7-2) falls into a three-way tie for second-place with Ohio State and Michigan State.
Led by a balanced attack, Indiana had all five of its starters score in double-figures. Cody Zeller (19 points, 10 rebounds) and Christian Watford (14 points, 10 rebounds) each had double-doubles.
Overall, they shot 52-percent from the field. More importantly, they were 22-25 (88-percent) from the free-throw line, including hitting 14 consecutive attempts to end the game, which killed any possibility of Michigan making a comeback.
For Michigan, its first time for them being ranked No. 1 in 21 years will be short-lived. As usual, they were led on offense by guards Trey Burke (25 points, eight assists) and Tim Hardaway Jr. (18 points). The problems came from a lack of support.
Nik Stauskas was 1-5 from beyond-the-arc, and if wasn’t for a very late transition basket from Glenn Robinson III, he would have been completely shut out for the night.
The Wolverines forced 16 turnovers while only chalking up eight of their own. Burke and forward Mitch McGary each chipped in two steals, while forward Jon Horford had two blocks. The Hoosiers were led on defense by Jeremy Hollowell (three blocks), Zeller (two blocks) and Victor Oladipo (two steals).
The difference in this game was the free-throw shooting. Michigan got to the line for just seven shots, while Indiana had 25 attempts and made the most of those opportunities, missing just three of them. Had Indiana missed more of them, especially down the stretch, Michigan’s late game three-point frenzy may have accounted for something.
We will see on Monday afternoon that Michigan is no longer holding the top spot in the country. However, don’t be fooled by this game. Playing on the road against a conference opponent is what made this game so tough.
The Wolverines showed a great fight in this one, and although they came up empty, they showed they can go toe-to-toe with anybody. When Indiana goes to Ann Arbor on March 10, the Wolverines will be ready for payback.
The Hoosiers will begin their reign as conference leaders on the road at Illinois (15-7, 2-6) on Thursday. Michigan is headed home to avenge its other loss, taking on Ohio State (17-4, 7-2) at the Crisler Center on Tuesday.