Saturday, February 2, 2013

Michigan @ Indiana

This should be a heck of a basketball game. Michigan's #1 in the country, and Indiana used to be, but after a couple close losses, they slipped just a tad down to #3.

The Wolverines are undefeated at home, with their lone loss coming in a nail-biting loss at Ohio State. But playing at Indiana is no picnic either.

Besides obviously wanting his team to beat any other that comes along, let alone the #1 team in the country, Hoosiers head coach Tom Crean would seem to have conflicting interests when it comes to the two major college football powers in the state of Michigan. Namely Michigan, and Michigan State.

Crean spent two stints at MSU, the first being as a graduate assistant under then head-coach Judd Heathcote, at then assistant coach Tom Izzo's bequest, then years later as a top assistant to Izzo himself after he became head coach. For that matter, Izzo was an usher at Crean's wedding, so it might fairly be said Crean has an MSU connection -- the better to knock off those pesky Wolverines.

But wait a minute. The woman he married was named Joani Harbaugh. Does that name sound familiar? Yep, she's the sister of those two guys that will be head coaching in the Super Bowl on Sunday. Of course, one of them is Jim Harbaugh, who was a star QB at Michigan. Big brother John went to Miami of Ohio. So "sis" has a family tie to Michigan, another in Ohio, and is married to a guy coaching at Indiana, who just happens to have former strong ties to Michigan State. Wow, that poor girl probably doesn't know who to root for. Then again, it could be worse. I'm glad coach Crean's first name is Tom and not Chachi. On top of the rest of the loyalty merry-go-round she has to deal with, I doubt Mrs. Crean would need the aggravation that would come with a "Joani loves Chachi" scenario.

Oh yeah. The game. Right. Michigan has one of best guards in the country in Trey Burke. He can bring the ball up the court, pass, and shoot with the best of them. But Indiana has a way of playing team defense that might stifle Burke a bit, especially at home. Burke might very well be successful, but he's going to have to earn every bit of it, because Indiana will rotate their defenses to make things as difficult as possible for him. Like they say, cut off the head, and the monster dies, or something like that.

Look for these teams to get after each other all over the court -- all game long. In other words, I highly doubt it's going to be a day at the races, with the teams running up and down the court, much less a dunk-a-thon. The defenses will clamp down hard, and every possession will be highly contested. It should be a relatively low-scoring affair.

Prediction? Michigan's been #1 for a week. Everybody else that's managed to climb to the top hasn't stayed there long. Nor will the Wolverines.

Indiana by 6.

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