Michigan may still be catching its breath.
The Wolverines escaped a scrappy Northwestern squad in overtime Thursday afternoon, finally securing the win on a shot by Zak Irvin with 3.0 seconds remaining in the game. Duncan Robinson lead the team with 21 points and Irvin added 19 of his own. A loss would have marked Michigan's worst finish in the Big Ten Tourney since 2006.
Indiana, the #1 seed, is trying to win their first conference tourney in program history and faces a relatively tough test in their first round. The Hoosiers may have beaten the boys from Ann Arbor earlier this year, but Michigan is a bubble team right now, and still has an NCAA tournament appearance to fight for.
Here are three keys point to this game, which tips of at Noon ET.
1. Michigan needs to contain Yogi
Yogi Ferrell has proven to be one of the most valuable players in the nation. The senior guard has carried IU for great portions of the season as was recently named All-Big Ten for his second year in-a-row. He is also the focal point of the Hoosier offense, and for Michigan, stopping him will the the number one priority.
In the last meeting between these two teams, Ferrell dropped 17 points and 9 assists, earning game MVP honors in the KenPom rankings. If the Wolverines want to win this time around, they're going to have to play him hard, with lockdown D. Yogi is about as consistent as they come, but if Michigan is able to guard him tightly like Michigan State did earlier this season, stopping him is possible. We'll see who gets the defensive assignment, but it will likely be Derrick Walton Jr. We'll see if he can be kept under control.
2. Will Robinson and Irvin continue to produce?
The duo for the Wolverines combined for 40 points yesterday against Northwestern, accounting for over half of their team's total points. In order for them to have a fighting chance here, they will need to put up big numbers again. Minus the injured Caris LeVert, one might argue that Michigan doesn't have many explosive scorers on their team. This necessitates contributions from many individuals, Robinson and Irvin being the two most important. If they can score a combined 45, Michigan will be in a good place to pull off this upset.
3. Indiana is streaking. Can they run away with this game early?
There may not be a hotter team in the country than Indiana. Not only have the Hoosiers won their last five-in-a-row, but they're riding high off of a stellar conference season which earned Tom Crean Big Ten Coach of the Year. The fear for Michigan is that Indiana will come out firing, and will run away with this game in the first half.
IU lead the entire second half of the game in their win over UM earlier this season. If they are able to follow a similar pattern, hitting outside jumpers and working the alley-oop to Troy Williams, it is going to be very difficult to stop Indiana. The reality is, Michigan has a shot, but as significant underdogs, it is going to take guts to pull this game out.