If anything felt like a near-certainty heading into Sunday in college hoops, it was that Indiana would manage to beat Michigan.
Consider: The Hoosiers were at home. And they’re on pace to make the NCAAs this year; Michigan not so much. Plus, the Wolverines were without starting point guard Derrick Walton, who continues his slow return from an injured left foot (the hope for Michigan is he gets back on the floor this season), not to mention likely future NBA first-round pick Caris LeVert missing the rest of the season.
And aside from Tom Crean’s first season in Bloomington, that 6-25 rebuilding year, he’s gotten a win over U of M each season since.
And so it happened again on Sunday: Indiana beat Michigan. These two played a fun one, and the Hoosiers came out with a 70-67 win after opting not to foul on the final possession of the game. Michigan’s Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman failed on a 3-point attempt from the corner as time expired.
The Hoosiers are now 17-7 overall and 7-4 in the Big Ten. Michigan is 13-11/6-6. John Beilein’s team — which — is on a three-game losing streak, continues to struggle offensively. The Wolverines, who had the No. 1 offense in college basketball the past two seasons, haven’t eclipsed 70 points in nine games.
Indiana’s 7-4 mark in league play keeps the Hoosiers in third place in the loss column. If Maryland falls against Iowa on Sunday and Ohio State wins at Rutgers, then the Hoosiers, Terrapins, Hawkeyes, Buckeyes, Purdue and Michigan State — yes that’s SIX teams — will be tied for second in the Big Ten.
The conference is a quagmire in a really fun way. No one’s quite sure what to make of teams two through seven. Or even two through 10.
But Indiana’s unquestionably gotten better since last year (it’s now one of the most effective offenses in college hoops), and will get two of its next three at home as well.