Super Saturday: Big Ten Battle with Michigan vs. Indiana and ACC Showdown with Miami vs. N.C. StateBy Debbie B.
This first Saturday of February has a great slew of games with the big event coming from Big Ten Nation: #1 Michigan (20-1, 7-1) vs. #3 Indiana (19-2, 7-1). For the Wolverines finally in the top spot, will it be a curse to have the coveted ranking?
Down south, there’s the ACC game between conference leader #14 Miami (FL) (16-3, 7-0) and #19 NC State (16-5, 5-3). Yes, the U does have a basketball team and they’ll trying for a ninth straight win.
Michigan vs. Indiana
The Wolverines haven’t been in the No. 1 spot since the Fab Five but they’ll face a tough Hoosiers team who have a special talent to defeat the No. 1 team (six times) but this doesn’t include Wolverines.
To-date, there’s been four No. 1 teams that have dropped from the top spot and three have come with ESPN’s College GameDay on campus. Fortunately for Michigan, ESPN is setting up in Bloomington on Saturday.
For Michigan, its offensive game is top notch and it’s anchored by guard Trey Burke. He is a Wooden Award contender as he’s averaged 17 points and seven assists per game. The last Big Ten player to accomplish this was Michigan State’s Magic Johnson; we all know how his basketball career went.
Other talent on the team includes freshman Nik Stauskas, who shoots 49.5 percent in 3-pointers and has hit one in every game during the season except against foe Ohio State. It was also Michigan’s sole loss–by three points.
There’s also basketball legacy Glenn Robinson III who consistently scores.
The team’s play has been solid and on Wednesday against Northwestern, the team only had two turnovers.
But don’t count out the Hoosiers. They’re trying to claw their way back to the top spot and a Saturday win may get them there.
Everything seems to be clicking offensively. The team’s National Player of the Year candidate Cody Zeller snapped out of a two-game slump on Wednesday against Purdue with 19 points and 11 rebounds. His teammates’ 3-point shooting hit a season-high (12) and the team’s defense is also playing well too; it ranks No. 12 nationally for defensive field goal percentage (37.3).
Can Michigan see its fifth straight win? No says Vegas with the Hoosiers for the win (-4).
NC State vs. Miami
If there’s one thing these two teams share in common is they have both defeated Duke this season. NC State kicked things off with a Jan. 12 84-76 win over then No. 1 Blue Devils while Miami did the same two weeks later after Duke crawled back to the top spot only to lose again on Jan. 23 in a 90-63 loss.
Duke is currently No. 5.
Unfortunately for the Wolfpack, they’ll likely be without starting point guard Lorenzo Brown on Saturday due to a sprained left ankle. Coach Mark Gottfried said on Friday via the Associated Press, “We’ll see how he feels tomorrow. The probability in my mind for him to be recovered enough to cut and move and sprint and jump is pretty slim. I think we’ll have to prepare as if he’s not going to play and then we’ll see and go from there.”
In his place, look for the freshmen to take over: shooting guard Rodney Purvis will move into Brown’s role while Tyler Lewis will take a more active role, leaving the bench.
But this may not be the answer to their problems. Since defeating Duke, N.C. State has lost 3 of 5 including Tuesday’s 58-55 loss vs. Virginia.
Meanwhile, Miami has been on a eight-game win streak, including a a 24-point win over Florida State on Sunday and a 73-64 victory vs. Virginia Tech on Wednesday.
Shane Larkin had a breakout game, with a career-high five 3-pointers which contributed to his 25 total points–two points short of his career high. He also added three of his 42 steals, which is No. 2 in the conference.
For NC State, the slump will continue as Miami gets the win (-1).