The opening weekend of the 2015-16 season is now in the books, but with the non-conference slate underway we have some Monday night action with Indiana and Michigan both hosting cupcakes tonight. While tonight's lineup is a bit lacking, especially compared to the Gavitt Games tomorrow night, basketball is basketball and the season is officially underway.
Game of the Night: Austin Peay at #15 Indiana (7:00 PM ET | BTN)
Tonight's game of the night is between Indiana and Austin Peay, earning that honor since it will be on BTN while Michigan will be relegated to streaming on ESPN3. The Hoosiers game tonight is actually an on-campus game for the 2015 Maui Invitational, with the Hoosiers set to eventually head to Maui later this month. This year there is a Maui in the Mainland event between a number of mid-majors, one of which will be Austin Peay.
The Hoosiers started off strong last Friday, taking care of business against Eastern Illinois in a decisive 88-49 victory. Leading the way was guard James Blackmon Jr. with 17 points, while six other Indiana players reached double digits. The offensive explosion wasn't without a few hiccups, though, with Indiana only hitting 33.3% of their three pointers and committing a woeful 16 turnovers. They did, however, out rebound the Panthers by a 51-17 margin. Freshman Thomas Bryant looked solid in his first start, adding 11 points and 9 rebounds in 19 minutes, while Max Bielfeldt got off to a quick start in his first game as a Hoosier. Indiana's roster is more or less set, so we know what we have here, the team just needs to keep up on the defensive side of things like they did this weekend.
Their opponent Austin Peay isn't going to provide the best challenge in all likelihood, with the team barely inside KenPom's top 300. In the Governors first game this year they were ran out of the gym by Vanderbilt, losing by 39 points. The team only hit 21.9% of their field goals, mainly due to a dreadful 6.3% from three on 16 attempts. Austin Peay will also be undersized, with the teams center (and tallest starter) Chris Horton measuring in at only 6'8".
Elon at #25 Michigan (7:00 PM ET | ESPN3)
In the other Big Ten game tonight, Michigan hosts Elon in what is essentially the opening of the Battle 4 Atlantis. Basically the event, which will take place in the Bahamas around Thanksgiving weekend, involves eight teams over three days. However, there are also on-campus games against mid-majors that will then go on to participate in a two-round tournament of their own, though that doesn't have much relevance to the Wolverines here. Either way, Elon is the second game for Michigan (coming off of a 70-44 win over Northern Michigan) and will be the Wolverines first Division 1 opponent of the year.
Michigan took care of business in the opener, shooting 51.9% from the field and beating the Wildcats by 26 points. Leading the way was Caris LeVert with 18 points, followed by Aubrey Dawkins, who added 15 points and 6 rebounds. No one else reached double digits, but most of the team didn't need to do much as the Wolverines rolled with relative ease. Now they'll square off against an Elon team that upset Charlotte 85-74 in the opener thanks to a quick 53 point first half. Either way, the Wolverines are talented enough to not get caught up here.
The biggest question heading into tonight is if Zak Irvin, a key player for last year's team, will make his 2015-16 debut tonight or if John Beilein will hold him out as he recovers from back surgery.