The Michigan men’s basketball team hits the road again, its third of five away games this month.
Much has been made of Michigan’s play on the road this season. The Wolverines (3-0 Big Ten, 12-5 overall) have a chance to improve their Big Ten road record to 3-0 with a win over Indiana (2-1, 7-7) tonight in Bloomington. That could prove to be a tall order, as Michigan has lost eight straight games in Assembly Hall, dating back to a 65-52 win on Jan. 24, 1995.
With the huge win at Iowa and a close victory over Penn State, Michigan coach Tommy Amaker feels that the time is now to end the losing streak at Indiana.
“We feel we’re playing with a confidence factor on the road so far,” Amaker said. “We’ve won our last two road games, so we’re hoping that will allow us to play better in Bloomington.”
It’s not only at Assembly Hall that has been a challenge for the Wolverines, although Michigan is 4-28 all time in the building. Michigan has lost eight straight to Indiana and nine of the last 10. The two losses to the Hoosiers last year were especially painful, as Indiana has experienced a steady decline since losing in the NCAA Championship game in 2002.
Michigan coach Tommy Amaker believes that both teams are at a crossroads in the Big Ten season, and a win tonight would go a long way for either.
“When you look at both teams, they’re both trying to find their way in the first half of the conference season,” Amaker said. “We’re trying to solidify our place and secure another road win and they’ve won four of their last five.”
Indiana might boast one of the best freshman classes in the conference. The Hoosiers feature three freshman in their starting lineup in Robert Vaden, D.J. White and A.J. Rattliff.
White leads all Big Ten freshmen in scoring with 12.6 points per game, and the four freshmen combined to score 41 of the team’s 75 points during Indiana’s wild 75-73 double overtime win at Purdue.
“All four freshmen are playing well,” Indiana coach Mike Davis said. “I think (Wright) is playing the way he needs to play for us to be a good basketball team. He has the ability to carry us and the young guys for stretches throughout a game. They tend to look at him to see how he’s playing and (react).”
Before the Purdue game, Indiana faced a daunting nonconference schedule, including three games against teams in the AP top 10. The Hoosiers dropped all three as part of a six-game losing streak, and it’s been a tough road to recovery for Indiana.
“It was really unfair for our young guys to go through (our schedule) this year,” said Davis about his athletic director making the schedule this season. “I feel like our team has improved throughout the year, and when you win some games, your confidence is definitely at a different level. Our confidence could have been there earlier if we played some games we could have won.”
The numbers suggest that the Wolverines have a tough challenge facing them tonight. But they weren’t supposed to win against then top-25 Iowa on the road, and they silenced the Carver Hawkeye Arena crowd. Amaker believes that the way his team is playing recently, anything is possible.
“It’s a winnable game for both teams, and I hope our guys are up to the challenge,” Amaker said.