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Players to watch for: Michigan vs Indiana basketball

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The Wolverines will have their hands full on the road.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 13 Indiana at Iowa

The Michigan Wolverines hope to be back on track after getting their first win in a month over the Maryland Terrapins on Tuesday. Now they head to Bloomington and take on an Indiana Hoosiers squad that are undefeated at home this season, including an upset win over No. 13 Ohio State and No. 4 Purdue. This should be a really strong test for the Wolverines to see if the trajectory of their season has truly flipped.

Here are some of the guys who could cause Michigan issues at Assembly Hall.

Junior Forward Trayce Jackson-Davis

Oftentimes it feels like Trayce Jackson-Davis is forgotten when talking about the premiere big men in the Big Ten. The 6-foot-9 forward doesn't have the same size as Kofi Cockburn, Hunter Dickinson or Zach Edey, but he is equally as productive as most of the guys in that group. That’s why he was a Third Team All-American and an All-Big Ten First Teamer a season ago.

In 2021-22, Jackson-Davis is averaging 19.5 points and 9.1 rebounds a game, converting at a 60.7% clip. He’s scored 20 points or more in seven games this season and had 43 in an 11-point win over Marshall earlier this season.

One of the bigger knocks on Jackson-Davis is he has struggled against size in his career. Against Dickinson and Cockburn last season in three games, he was just 12-for-43 (27%) with 40 points. Now, anybody having to go up against those two future NBA-ers is likely going to struggle, but Jackson-Davis is expected to put up production against better competition for the Hoosiers to win with more consistency.

Redshirt Senior Forward Race Thompson

Thompson is right around the same size as Jackson-Davis standing at 6-foot-8, but that didn’t stop him from being eighth in the Big Ten in blocked shots last season. He also had a team-high 28 steals last season and is thought of as the Hoosiers’ best defender.

Thompson and Jackson-Davis live in the paint together. Thompson is just as efficient scoring from the interior converting on 58.3% of his looks this season. They are a huge reason why Indiana is currently tied for second in the Big Ten in shooting percentage making 48.3% of their looks. Only Ohio State and Purdue can match that or better.

The Indiana forward was a good player last year, but he has really started to come into his own as of late. His averages are up to 10.9 points and 7.5 rebounds a game, good enough for second on the team in both categories (trailing only Jackson-Davis). Thompson has hit double-digits 12 times this season and is one of the most consistent contributors to this team.

Locking up the interior will be vitally important for the Wolverines. Indiana is not the kind of team that is going to chuck up a bunch of three’s (they are 11th in the Big Ten in attempts from behind the arc). If they have it their way, Thompson and Jackson-Davis will be making cuts to the ball on the inside all game long. It may be the most difficult challenge of the season for the Dickinson and Moussa Diabate-duo defensively to this point in the season.