Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Not only is sole possession of the Big Ten at stake on Saturday when Michigan travels to Indiana, but the top spot in the country could also be up for grabs.
The No. 3 Indiana Hoosiers began the season at the top of the college basketball world, and for the first time since losing to Butler in December, they have a shot at getting back into the No. 1 spot if they can beat the top-ranked Michigan Wolverines on Saturday.
Indiana (19-2, 7-1 Big Ten) is coming off of a pair of satisfying wins. First, they toughed out a hard-fought 75-70 win over then-No. 13 Michigan State, and then cruised to a 97-60 drubbing over Purdue, the Boilermakers' worst-ever home loss. If leading-scorer and national player of the year candidate Cody Zeller, who finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds on Wednesday, can avoid falling back into a shooting slump, the Hoosiers have a good shot at picking up three better wins in a span of a week than any other team in the nation can claim.
Of course, the Wolverines (20-1, 7-1 Big Ten) have their own potential player of the year in Trey Burke, who averages 17.9 points and 7.1 assists per game. Burke paced Michigan with 18 points in the team's 68-46 rout of Northwestern on Wednesday, three days after he accounted for 19 in a win over Illinois.
The winner of Saturday's meeting may be determined by which team receives better support for its star. Aside from Zeller, Indiana has four players averaging in double-figures in scoring. Each of the four shoot better than 40 percent from long distance, as is the case with Michigan's three best players behind Burke. However, Indiana's Victor Oladipo may be the best of the supporting bunch. He averages 14.0 points and 6.0 rebounds per game, and shoots 52.9 percent from beyond the three-point arc and 65.5 percent overall.
Game time, TV: 9 p.m. ET, ESPN/WatchESPN
Location: Assembly Hall, Bloomington, Ind.