College Basketball: Hoosiers and Wolverines Have Plenty to Prove

Al Dannity | Updated Feb 01, 2012

Indiana and Michigan have both exceeded early expectations and should go to the Big Dance. How well they will be regarded in March Madness is another matter entirely. Al Dannity examines the issues facing both programs ahead of their meeting tonight in Ann Arbor.

Just win on the road It really is that simple for the Hoosiers. Currently standing at 4-4 in Big Ten play, Indiana has lost 3 of 4 on the road. Their lone conference win outside of Bloomington came at last-place Penn State. Their dominance at Assembly Hall is virtually beyond question. A surprising loss to Minnesota aside, the Hoosiers have been the big dog no matter who comes to their house. Wins over #1 Kentucky, #3 Ohio State, and #23 Michigan have shown that this team can get it done at home.

Indiana’s marquee wins outside of Bloomington don’t set the pulse racing, at NC State and a neutral site win over Notre Dame. That’s going to hurt them on Selection Sunday. Hope is far from lost however as the Hoosiers have four winnable road games left on the conference slate. This is by far the toughest road date left for Tom Crean’s charges. NCAA Basketball betting fans should see this as the most critical game left in deciding IU’s seeding in the Big Dance. A win here and we could realistically see Indiana claim a #4 seed. A loss and it will be hard to see anything better than a #6 or #7.

Keeping in the conversation Having lost in Assembly Hall, the Wolverines need a win at home tonight to stay up with the Hoosiers in the eyes of the selection committee. Ideally, for Michigan, the Wolverines would win here and earn a neutral site win over the Hoosiers in the Big Ten tournament. That would leap Michigan over Indiana in the battle for seeding, earning them a good shot at a #4 or #5 seed.

Michigan however has a lot more work to do in order to impress ahead of the NCAA Tournament. They lack the marquee names on Indiana’s resume but that could change in the coming weeks. A win tonight would set the Wolverines up for a shot at sweeping the Spartans in East Lansing on Sunday. If they could follow that up with a home win over the Buckeyes, then Michigan would be sitting pretty heading into the Big Dance. For all the consistency these Wolverines lack, they remain the kind of threat most teams fear. If they can put together a solid winning streak in conference play, they could be poised for a big run in March Madness.

Follow Sports Interaction on Twitter.