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These two historic programs met three weeks ago, and it was one of the best Big Ten basketball games of the year, with Indiana’s Trayce Jackson-Davis and Michigan’s Hunter Dickinson lighting up the scoreboard. Since then, Michigan has been red hot, and Indiana beat #5 ranked Purdue. As it stands, Michigan is one of the first four teams out of the NCAA tournament, so the Wolverines need to pull through here if they want a date to the big dance. One of the more encouraging signs for Michigan is the play of their young backcourt over this past stretch. Kobe Bufkin and Dug McDaniel have been playing at another level recently, with the pair combining to score 35, 30, and 48 points over their last three games. The duo has taken the pressure off Hunter Dickinson, allowing the Wolverines to space the floor. Bufkin has become one of Michigan’s most reliable scorers and has played well enough to grab the attention of NBA draft analysts, many of whom see the Grand Rapids native as a first-round pick in 2023 or even a lottery pick in 2024. If the Wolverines want a chance to beat Indiana, they need Bufkin and McDaniel to keep up this pace…and they need to contain Trayce Jackson-Davis.
The last time Indiana played Michigan, Trayce Jackson-Davis had 28 points and 11 rebounds. In Tuesday’s loss against Iowa, Jackson-Davis had 26 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, and four steals, passing Alan Henderson as Indiana’s all-time leading rebounder. Think about that for a second. Indiana is one of the country’s most historic college basketball schools, and this guy has the rebound record and is fourth in all-time scoring. That’s ridiculous. Indiana matches up pretty well against Michigan because, as we saw in their last game, the Hoosiers’ biggest weakness is big-athletic forwards that are quick off the dribble(Kris Murray). Hunter Dickinson is a hell of a player, but I don’t think anyone in their right mind would describe him as quick. This game will be close, but at this point in the season, games are won and lost by stars. Trayce Jackson-Davis might be the best player in college basketball right now, and he will carry Indiana to a much-needed win. Vegas likes Indiana to win, and they will. Want to put some money in your pocket for a long weekend? Take Indiana’s Moneyline and get $200 if you pick the winner with Sports Illustrated.
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