Indiana vs. Michigan: Breaking Down What's at Stake in Big Ten Showdown

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Indiana vs. Michigan: Breaking Down What's at Stake in Big Ten Showdown
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

At 4 p.m. ET on Sunday, the Indiana Hoosiers will take on the Michigan Wolverines in Ann Arbor in a matchup that has plenty at stake.

In their last meeting, Indiana emerged victorious over then-No. 1 Michigan back on Feb. 2, 81-73. That win would propel the Hoosiers to No. 1 in the rankings, but neither team claims that spot today.

However, there are more than just bragging rights that are up for grabs in this game. Both Indiana and Michigan sit at the top of what is a very crowded Big Ten picture in the final game of the regular season.

Along with the conference hanging in the balance, let's take a look at what else is on the line in this game.

 

Outright Big Ten Conference Title

After Sunday, the Big Ten could either be decided easily or become a huge mess. As it stands now, a loss for Indiana could lead to a four-way tie should Michigan's victory be combined with wins by Michigan State (vs. Northwestern) and Ohio State (vs. Illinois).

It's certainly plausible that happens considering both the Spartans and Buckeyes are playing in winnable games, but the Wolverines must live up to their end of the bargain.

The tiebreaker for such a scenario would be head-to-head winning percentages, so Indiana has the advantage in that instance. However, a tie between the four teams would lead to all receiving first-round byes in the Big Ten tournament.

Granted, Indiana is still in great shape regardless, but the achievement of winning a Big Ten title outright is much more significant than winning it by a tiebreaker. Meanwhile, a win for Michigan would give it a piece of the conference title and would be a nice finish to the season for the Wolverines.

 

Wooden Award and Big Ten Player of the Year Candidates

Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Victor Oladipo and Trey Burke are two of the finest players in the nation right now, and rightfully so. Both have a great chance to take home Player of the Year honors for the 2012-13 season.

Both players were listed as finalists for the Wooden Award and are favorites for Big Ten Player of the Year, per Andy Katz of ESPN.com.

Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Burke is Michigan's floor general; everything it does on offense goes through him. The Wolverines point guard is having a great all-around season, averaging 19.1 points, 3.2 rebounds and 6.9 assists per game. On the defensive end, Burke is posting 1.6 steals per contest.

Oladipo is Indiana's everything man, as he's proven he can do it all on the floor. He is averaging 13.7 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 2.3 steals per game. There are few players in the college game today who can match the energy and effort that Oladipo brings to both sides of the floor on a nightly basis.

This game may not decide who wins these awards definitively, but a great performance by either player would go a long way toward helping take it home. Whoever can upstage the other in this huge showdown will garner a ton of recognition, and that could put these players in a better position to be the 2013 recipient of the honor.

 

No. 1 Overall Seed in NCAA Tournament

Both squads would love to grab the No. 1 overall seed in the Big Dance, so a win here would be huge for either squad.

Indiana's win would only cement its chances at the top seed and a trip to Indianapolis, as it is currently the favorite to do so. That would be two huge victories over Michigan under Indiana's belt, which could help lead it to a No. 1 overall seed.

Meanwhile, Michigan must erase its loss to Indiana from earlier in the season if it hopes to stand any chance of grabbing the top spot. On top of that, another win against the Hoosiers in the Big Ten tournament should they play would further increase the Wolverines' chances of heading to Indy as the No. 1 team.

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