The Indiana Hoosiers and Michigan Wolverines met just once in the regular season. The Hoosiers went into Ann Arbor on Feb. 3 and left with a 13-point win thanks to a 25-0 run. Flash forward to Friday, the two teams met again in Indianapolis for the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament. The Hoosiers were looking to solidify their NCAA Tournament seeding while apparently the Wolverines played for their tournament lives.
The contest was hard-fought throughout, with neither team holding more than a five point lead at any point. The game came down to a final possession where seldom known Kameron Chatman knocked down a game-winning buzzer three, to send the Wolverines to a date in the semis with the Purdue Boilermakers.
So let's see what we learned from the halfway mark game of the tournament.
1. The Big Ten tournament is just not Indiana's cup of tea.
We are now in the midst of the nineteenth iteration of the conference tournament, and for the nineteenth time the Hoosiers will not hoist the trophy at the end, with still just one finals appearance. In fact since 2010, the No.1 seed in the Big Ten Tournament has reached Sunday's final, except for the two instances when IU has been the top seed.
It is hard to pinpoint why exactly the Hoosiers never seem to get up for this event. All the goodness of the past couple of weeks has been dampened by this one-and-done performance, at least if you check the iubb hashtag on Twitter.
Now Indiana will sit and wait to see where it ends up for the NCAA Tournament, likely still a three or four seed.
2. Indiana still remains one of the most head-scratching teams heading into the NCAAs
Friday's result should be alarming just for the fact that this Hoosier squad has struggled in tournament-style play. Indiana is now 1-3 in a tournament setting this season.
Sure, one could pass off Friday as Michigan simply having more to play for, but it feels like a lazy excuse. This week could have served for a launching point for Indiana, who would have carried an 8-game winning streak if it could have won all three games this week.
That would likely labeled the Hoosiers as a media darling for a deep tourney run and probably would have given them the label of hottest team entering the NCAAs. Instead expect the talking heads to be placing the Hoosiers in their "upset special" articles and analysis.
The Hoosiers do have the pieces to make a deep run. An x-factor point guard like Yogi Ferrell has carried teams to the Final Four in the past alone. Add in Thomas Bryant, who is still shooting a ridiculous near-70-percent from the floor, down low, plus if the Hoosiers can get good Troy Williams over bad Troy, then it can put Hoosier Nation at ease that the winning streak had to come to an end at some point and it is much better for it to end this week than next.
OG Anunoby had yet another coming out party on Friday going 6-for-6 from the floor for 13 points. He and the other solid role pieces the Hoosiers have, such as Max Bielfeldt and Nick Ziesloft, certainly give them a chance to be a part of the next three week.
The Hoosiers will be a bracket-busting team, one way or the other.
3. The media will sell the "Michigan is playing for its life" story, but I'm not buying.
I'm not buying, because I think the Wolverines are safely in at this point. Remember, at this point last year, most people thought Indiana was heading to Dayton or to the NIT, and they had two less wins than this current Michigan squad, and didn't have a top-10 win in the final week.
Michigan does not have a single bad loss this season, not one. They made it through the Big Ten with a winning a record, and now have a third ranked win, second top-ten.
But don't count Michigan out for stealing this automatic bid. The Wolverines have already defeated the Boilermakers this season, and making it to Sunday should absolutely be enough, considering that the Big Ten Championship typically doesn't factor into the Selection Committee's decisions.
Just to be safe, Michigan should probably cheer for an Ohio State loss tonight, and that no auto-bids are stolen over the next couple of days.