Michigan and Indiana, two of the hottest teams in the Big Ten right now, faceoff in Ann Arbor on Saturday at 6 p.m.
Over the last seven games, there may not be a better player in the country than Indiana’s leading scorer, senior forward Trayce Jackson-Davis. He’s posted 24.6 points, 14.3 rebounds and 3.3 blocks per game in a stretch that has included wins over Illinois, Michigan State, No. 1 Purdue and No. 24 Rutgers. Suddenly, the Hoosiers have climbed to No. 18 in the country and are looking like a team that’s getting its groove at the right time.
Meanwhile, Michigan is on a three-game winning streak, its first since the start of the season. Junior forward Hunter Dickinson continues to put together strong performances. He’s posted a double-double in consecutive games and is up to 18 points per game this season. He has steadily been one of the top-performing big men in the country for the third straight year. Saturday will be the first meeting between the two teams this year.
The last time they met resulted in one of the most embarrassing losses of the Juwan Howard era. Michigan was desperate for a win or two in the Big Ten Tournament to secure a spot in the NCAA Tournament. They came out with a lot of energy and stomped Indiana in the first half, taking a 41-28 lead into the half. With under 13 minutes left, the Wolverines had a game-high 17-point lead.
Then, Jackson-Davis took over the game with Dickinson in foul trouble. He had 19 of his 24 points in the second half as the Hoosiers stormed back to a five-point win.
6-9 + 22-year-old Trayce Jackson-Davis scored 19 of his game-high 24 points in the 2nd half, blocked 4 shots, grabbed 8 boards and led the Indiana Hoosiers to a much-needed 74-69 Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals win over Michigan in front of @Mike_Schmitz this afternoon pic.twitter.com/rX36Mgo2zA— DraftExpressContent (@DXContent) March 10, 2022
With the win, Indiana moved on and pushed itself to an NCAA Tournament bid because of it.
Just a month and a half earlier, Michigan earned its most impressive win of the season against Indiana in Bloomington. It was a top-five performance of Dickinson’s career, as he dropped 25 points, nine rebounds and four assists while shooting 9-for-12 from the field and splashing three from deep.
His best play was this step-back from three over a defender:
Hunter Dickinson letting the Indiana bench hear about it— Barstool College Basketball (@StoolCBB) January 23, 2022
The Wolverines cruised to an 80-62 win in Bloomington, giving the Hoosiers their first home loss of the season. Jackson-Davis was held to 6-of-13 shooting, despite 17 points scored. The win may have been the deciding factor of why the 17-14 Michigan squad made the NCAA Tournament.
Now, Michigan is in a similar spot and needs more Quad 1 wins to boost its tournament resume. This year, the Wolverines will have the home-court advantage, something they didn’t have in either contest last season. We are in desperate times for Michigan’s postseason hopes, and top-25 matchups on the schedule are few and far between as we approach March.
Saturday’s contest will be all about avenging last season’s loss in the Big Ten Tournament and getting a signature win on Michigan’s resume. Led by Dickinson, it was an opportunity the Wolverines took advantage of around this time last season. They’ll need him to step up in a big way to conquer the Hoosiers on Saturday.