While the Indiana Hoosiers have already clinched at least a share of the regular season Big Ten title, there's still plenty to play for against the Michigan Wolverines.
It was a bit of a surreal experience to see Hoosiers players celebrating and cutting down the nets in Assembly Hall after their 67-58 loss to the Ohio State Buckeyes on Tuesday (h/t Rob Dauster of CollegeBasketballTalk). Indiana's defeat to the Buckeyes, whom the Hoosiers had beaten by 13 points in Columbus, is just another example of the obscene amount of parity fans have seen during the 2012-13 season.
For Indiana, this game is a chance to go into the Big Ten Tournament with some momentum and get back on track. For Michigan, this game is all about revenge. It was the Hoosiers who knocked off the newly minted No. 1 Wolverines in early February.
After that game, Michigan went on to lose three of its next six.
The Wolverines have since righted the ship and, with a win against Indiana, would manage to get a share of the regular season conference title.
Here's everything you need to know about this massive Big Ten showdown.
When: Sunday, March 10, at 4 p.m. ET
Where: Crisler Center, Ann Arbor, Mich.
Live Stream: CBSSports.com
Injury Report (via USA Today)
F Austin Etherington, Knee, Out
What They're Saying
The Big Ten title picture could become extremely muddied should the Hoosiers fall to the Wolverines. As a result, you've got two schools that you wouldn't expect to be on the Wolverines' side rooting for Michigan on Sunday. John Beilein is well aware of how unique this situation is in terms of who's cheering for whom (h/t Rod Beard of The Detroit News):
Beilein: It's ironic that Ohio State and Michigan State will be rooting for Michigan on Sunday.— Rod Beard (@detnewsRodBeard) March 8, 2013
The Ohio State Buckeyes and Michigan State Spartans both have very winnable games. There is the very real chance the Big Ten regular season title race could end in a four-way tie, with the four schools finishing with a 13-5 conference record.
Casual fans should be rooting for a Michigan win simply for the fact of seeing one-third of a conference all end up with a piece of the regular season title. Plus, it would add even more comedy to Indiana's net-cutting ceremony.
Indiana Player to Watch: Victor Oladipo
With very good reason, Victor Oladipo is in the running for various player of the year awards. His performance on the court has been stellar. His 13.7 points per game does not jump off the page, but he's shooting a sensational 63.1 percent from the floor and 49.1 percent from behind the three-point line.
Those numbers don't even take into account Oladipo's play on the defensive end of the court, where he's averaging 2.3 steals a game. Few in the country are as good at defending the perimeter as Oladipo.
Oladipo hasn't been one to shy away from the spotlight either, as ESPN Stats and Info pointed out on Twitter:
Victor Oladipo was averaging 20.0 PPG vs ranked teams this season before last night. He scored 7 Pts and had 0 Pts & FGA in the 1st half.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 6, 2013
He finished the loss to Ohio State with seven points, and Indiana can't afford for him to have that kind of performance against the Wolverines. Back in February, Oladipo scored 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting when the schools first met. If he puts together a showing like that, Michigan is in major trouble.
Michigan Player to Watch: Trey Burke
If the Wolverines are going to get a win, they'll need Trey Burke firing.
In his previous three games against Indiana, the sophomore guard scored 53 points, which is pretty solid. On the other hand, those 53 points came on a combined 18-of-48 from the field. His best performance in terms of shooting (5-of-9) coincidentally came in his lone win against the Hoosiers.
Burke will score plenty of points. Michigan basketball tweeted out an interesting fact about the season he's having:
Trey Burke is the ONLY player to have scored over 15 points in every Big Ten game this season. (HT @nicoleauerbach)— Michigan Basketball (@umichbball) March 7, 2013
There's little doubt that Burke will get plenty of points. The more important stat is his shooting percentage. Michigan will be a major disadvantage if he isn't very efficient from the floor. Scoring 20-plus points isn't going to be helpful if he shoots 30 percent from the field. The team would be much better off if Burke chooses his shots a little more wisely and reins in his scoring a little bit.
The Hoosiers have followed up each of their five losses this season with a win in their next game. There's so much on the line for Indiana. It wouldn't want to have to share the Big Ten title after the celebration on Tuesday night. Going into the postseason tournament on a two-game losing streak also doesn't bode well.
Getting a win in Ann Arbor will be extremely hard to do. Michigan's five losses all came on the road. Three of the losses came in a four-game stretch where the Wolverines faced off with Indiana, Ohio State, Michigan State and the Wisconsin Badgers.
Who wins Sunday's massive Big Ten game?
The game itself might not be anywhere near as interesting as Burke facing off with Oladipo. Whoever gets the upper hand will not only put his team in a great position to win, but he will also move to the forefront of the postseason individual awards races.
Michigan and its star guard have a lot to prove with this game. The Hoosiers are going to have an extremely tough time against the Wolverines. The Crisler Center has become a major factor in Michigan's success, as evidenced by the school's 17-0 record at home. This is going to be a signature performance for Burke and the Wolverines and give the team some much-needed momentum going into the postseason.
Michigan Wolverines 79, Indiana Hoosiers 74