Regular season college basketball match-ups don’t get much bigger than this.
Today, the newly named No. 1 team in the land – the Michigan Wolverines (20-1) – will take on a familiar Big Ten foe in Indiana (19-2) and a team held the top spot in the polls for much of the season. However, at No.3 the Hoosiers are still not a team to take lightly. In fact, some feel they are still the best team in the country. The match-up will be the first of two meetings between the teams this season, but there’s little doubt that considering their current rankings, this will be the most significant battle for either squad during the regular season schedule.
The Hoosiers will build an intimidating home atmosphere in Bloomington for the Wolverines and will bring in the nation’s top scoring offense, captained by guard Victor Oladipo and big man Cody Zeller. Oladipo is a multi-talented threat who can score from anywhere on the floor, as he leads the nation in true shooting percentage, which takes into account three-pointers, two-pointers and free throws – no dunks or lay-ins. Then you have Zeller to deal with, an inside presence who dominates the painted area with 16.1 points and 8.2 rebounds per contest on the year.
Of course, by now the Wolverines already know this and they’ll be ready.
“We’re looking forward to it. It’s going to be a lot of hype. It’s going to be a really hectic crowd and atmosphere,” Michigan’s leading scorer Trey Burke said, via ESPN.com. “I know guys are ready. Indiana’s a really good team. We’ll be ready for them. It should be a fun game.”
The Wolverines aren’t too shabby on the offensive side of the floor either. Burke, who scores 17.9 points per game, leads an attack that is ranked 13th in the country, scoring 78 points per contest. Not only that, but Michigan is coming off one of their finest offensive performances of the year. Although they only scored 68 against Northwestern on Wednesday, they only turned the ball over twice all game, a feat almost unheard of in college or pro sports.
With two powerful teams colliding, the home court advantage may just be enough to give the Hoosiers the edge. On the other hand, both of the Hoosiers’ two losses this season came on their own floor. Can Michigan make it three?
I think so. The Wolverines are playing extremely well at the moment and although not many picked them to be in this position at this point in the season, they’ve certainly earned their place with their play. On the flip side, Indiana was a preseason No. 1, so you could argue that they’re No. 3 ranked is not as warranted, even though they’ve had an incredible season as well.
Bottom line: This will be an extremely close game; certainly one of the most heated battles of the year, but at the end of the day, I like the Michigan Wolverines to prevail and cover +4 on the road.
This showdown of epic proportions will likely decide who one of the No. 1 seeds will be coming into March Madness, so with so much on the line, this is one game on the NCAA that you simply cannot miss.