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Michigan vs. Indiana Basketball Preview: Time to build some momentum

The Wolverines look to make it nine straight wins over the Hoosiers.

NCAA Basketball: Michigan at Indiana Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Staring a potential 1-4 start in the face, the Michigan Wolverines desperately needed a win over struggling Maryland on Tuesday and delivered. The contest was never particularly close, with the home team cruising on offense and giving the Terrapins all they could handle in a much-needed 19-point victory.

The task becomes tougher now with Michigan seeking something it has only done twice (!!) all season: following up a win with another one — let that sink in. Sunday’s opponent is a surprisingly decent Indiana squad, who just upset top-five rival Purdue, that enters as the favorite, though Kenpom has the teams pretty close overall. The Hoosiers have not played the toughest schedule but are currently projected as a No. 8 seed.

The Wolverines have somehow won the last eight head-to-heads, including a couple laughers at Assembly Hall. However, Indiana went the Juwan Howard route over the offseason and it seems to have paid off, looking Tournament bound for the first time in five seasons. Michigan could use this one if it wants to earn a berth as well.

Michigan Wolverines (8-7, 2-3) vs. Indiana Hoosiers (13-4, 4-3)

Date & Time: Sunday, Jan. 23, 3:30 p.m. ET
Television/Streaming: CBS
Location: Assembly Hall, Bloomington, IN
Big Ten Standings: MICH 9th, IU t-5th
DraftKings Sportsbook Odds: MICH +4, O/U 134

Just about everyone (who was available) showed up for Michigan on offense against Maryland, which was an important reminder of this team’s potential. Hunter Dickinson can still be a game wrecker, and his 10-for-13 shooting was nearly unstoppable. He will surely be tested by Trayce Jackson-Davis and the Hoosier defense, which ranks seventh in the entire nation in two-point defense.

Indiana is pretty good against the three as well, but this should not stop Caleb Houstan from taking his shots. The streaky freshman has been frustrating at times, but his 3-for-4 effort on Tuesday could help get him back on track. This part of the Wolverine offense has been missing too often, and Houstan is the key.

The Hoosiers are not as scary on the other end, though their advanced metrics paint an interesting profile. In terms of overall efficiency, this unit sits 79th, but that is the blend of a couple disparate factors. On one side is a decent 53.7 percent eFG rate, led by the frontcourt of Jackson-Davis and Race Thompson. This is offset, though, by one of the worst steal rates in the country.

Matchup Highlights

If Dickinson and Houstan are on, this offense will be fine, especially if the point guard spot continues to produce. DeVante Jones was sharp against the Terps, and Frankie Collins brought a huge spark to the team as well. Instead of debating who should start, it looks like the Wolverines have a pair of solid point guards who can keep the offense humming in a few different ways.

Unfortunately, Michigan is a great matchup for Indiana despite its sloppiness. Few teams force fewer steals than the Wolverines, making this a battle between a stoppable force and a movable object. The Hoosiers have not quite been as efficient in conference play as they were prior, but the visitors are going to have to find some stops against the bigs in the paint or else it could be rough.