Michigan-Indiana Preview

BY foxsports • March 10, 2016

(AP) - Indiana took a long, hard road to winning the Big Ten regular-season championship.

If the Hoosiers are going to win the tournament title, they'll also need to rest.

Two months after being discounted, overlooked and forgotten by many outsiders, the 10th-ranked Hoosiers head to Indianapolis with the top seed and a chance to change directions in what has been a frustrating event for Indiana.

''The main thing playing three games in three days is rest,'' first-team all-Big Ten guard Yogi Ferrell said. ''You've got to get your feet up, you've got to get treatment and if you win one, you've got to get right on to the next one.''

The good news is that Indiana (25-6) is playing as well as it has all season and will have had four days off entering its quarterfinal matchup with eighth-seeded Michigan on Friday.

Last week, the Hoosiers won at then-No. 16 Iowa to clinch the league's outright title and routed then-No. 14 Maryland at home to complete their first unbeaten season at Assembly Hall since 2006-07. Plus, they'll take a five-game winning streak with them to Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

So why is there consternation throughout the Hoosier State?

Indiana is 11-18 all-time in the Big Ten tournament, has never won the title, has only played in one championship game (2001) and has only one semifinal appearance since 2007.

The road this year isn't any easier. If they get past the Wolverines (21-11), who desperately need a win to boost their NCAA Tournament hopes, the Hoosiers then face a possible matchup with No. 13 Purdue. A win there could set up a championship game showdown with No. 2 Michigan State.

Indiana isn't the only favorite who has had trouble in this event but is looking at this week a little differently.

''People think if you've won the Big Ten, you can relax,'' said forward Max Bielfeldt, who played on Michigan's conference tourney runner-up team in 2014 but transferred to Indiana before this season. ''We've got to be aggressive. We've got to be the team that we are.''

Bielfeldt struggled in the only matchup with the Wolverines this season, going 2 of 8 from the field, but the Hoosiers still shot 50.0 percent and eased to an 80-67 road victory Feb. 2.

Ferrell had 17 points, and Indiana is 16-1 when he scores more than 15. He's averaged 20.5 over the past four games, and Troy Williams has stepped up with 16.4 per game during the Hoosiers' win streak.

The Wolverines are playing less than 24 hours after a 72-70 overtime victory over Northwestern. Zak Irvin, who grew up in the Indianapolis suburb of Fishers, hit the game-winning jumper with 3.3 seconds left.

"I was just proud of how hard we were able to fight and how tough we were throughout," said Irvin, who had 19 points.

Duncan Robinson made the tying 3-pointer with 46.5 seconds left and finished with 21 points after averaging 6.7 in the previous six games. His emergence in a game Michigan won despite top scorer Derrick Walton Jr. going 0 for 7 from the field should be encouraging for a team which closed the regular season losing four of five.

The Wolverines are 2-8 versus ranked foes but did beat a No. 3 Maryland team Jan. 12.

Walton shot 3 of 10 for seven points against Indiana. Irvin has averaged 19.5 points in the last two meetings, but Michigan lost both.

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