Michigan-Indiana Preview

The Associated Press

Michigan and Indiana have undergone major turnarounds recently after years of frustration, though it's been awhile since both teams have been this good simultaneously.

The 12th-ranked Hoosiers host the No. 16 Wolverines on Thursday night, meeting with both teams holding spots in the AP poll for the first time in nearly 15 years.

Indiana coach Tom Crean and Michigan coach John Beilein have recruited their respective programs out of dismal situations, and these teams will meet as ranked foes for the first time since then-No. 21 Indiana beat then-No. 13 Michigan 72-70 on Jan. 21, 1997.

The Hoosiers went 28-66 in their first three seasons under Crean following the tarnished Kelvin Sampson era, but they are off to an unexpected strong start led by freshman star Cody Zeller, who is averaging team bests of 14.2 points and 6.7 rebounds.

Indiana (13-1, 1-1 Big Ten) became only the second team since 1996-97 to beat a No. 1 and No. 2 squad during the regular season after upsetting then-No. 2 Ohio State 74-70 on Saturday. It beat then-No. 1 Kentucky 73-72 on Christian Watford's buzzer-beating 3-pointer Dec. 10.

Now, the Hoosiers are facing high expectations for the first time since Crean arrived in 2008.

"My expectations matter, as do the ones that they have for themselves and as long as we're on the same page with that then we have a chance to keep growing and getting better. It's if my expectations and their expectations don't match up," Crean said.

"Outside expectations really don't play one bit into what we're doing and making sure we're locked in to what we're doing every day. ... That's what's most important."

Michigan, seeking back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances for the first time since a five-year run from 1992-96, also has seemed focused during its seven-game winning streak.

Freshman guard Trey Burke has started each game after the season opener - which he didn't start due to disciplinary reasons - and is averaging 14.0 points following a season-high 27-point performance in Sunday's 61-56 win over Minnesota.

The Wolverines (12-2, 2-0) have held four of their last five opponents to less than 60 points and had won their previous six games by double digits.

"There have been some moments this year, especially in the last few games, at least a half at a time, where we've really played good defense," Beilein said. "We're going to have to do that."

Stopping Zeller may be one of Michigan's toughest tasks to date, though getting him into foul trouble may be the strategy. Zeller had only four points while committing four fouls in an 80-65 loss at Michigan State on Dec. 28, then he fouled out after scoring 14 points in 21 minutes against Ohio State.

"I've seen him since he was a sophomore (in high school). He's really a tremendous player," Beilein said. "He can pass, he rebounds, he's tough, and he's really been a big difference-maker in their team from last year."

Crean is equally aware of Burke's capabilities.

"He seems to be a very in-control guard to me. It's probably what a lot of people might look at when they see Cody, they don't see a typical freshman," Crean said. "When you look at Trey Burke you don't see a typical freshman. He's a guy that looks like he's been doing this for a long time and he's very comfortable with whatever he's asked to do."

These teams split two games last season, and Michigan has won four of the last seven meetings following Indiana's 11-game winning streak in the series.

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