Mar 10, 2013, 7:29 PM EDT
Indiana entered Sunday’s game at Michigan with the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten tournament sewn up and the nets from their regular season title already cut down.
It’s true that they were playing for a chance to win the outright Big Ten title, but whether or not the Hoosiers actually won on Sunday would have no effect on whether or not this team refers to themselves as the 2013 Big Ten regular season champions. Kansas won their ninth straight regular season title in the Big 12, which is a stat that you hear referenced quite often. But do you know how many times his team’s shared that regular season title?
There wasn’t all that much on the line for the Hoosiers: a loss at Michigan doesn’t hurt their chances at a No. 1 seed; pride and a chance to relegate Michigan to a No. 5 seed and a spot in the first round of the Big Ten tournament can only provide so much motivation.
Yet on Sunday, we got a glimpse at the Indiana team we all expected to see this season, as they knocked off Michigan in Crisler Arena 72-71 behind 25 points, 10 boards and a game-winning bucket with 13 seconds left from Cody Zeller.
The Hoosiers pounded the ball inside to Zeller, the consensus National Player of the Year in the preseason that has become the forgotten all-american in Victor Oladipo’s shadow, for 40 minutes. Michigan didn’t bring help for Mitch McGary or Jordan Morgan or Jon Horford until Zeller put the ball on the floor. The thinking? Once Zeller made his move, he wasn’t going to give the ball up. With shooters flooding Indiana’s perimeter, John Beilein was trying to minimize the number of open looks they got.
And here’s the funny thing: it worked. If Christian Watford’s foul on Glenn Robinson III is called a flagrant; if Morgan, Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. don’t miss a free throw in the final minute (the latter two missed front-ends); if Morgan’s tip happens to fall through the hoop instead of off the rim, the outcome would have been different.
The Wolverines gave that game away, but it’s a game that Indiana, quite frankly, had no business winning. Michigan hadn’t lost at home this season. But they did lose to Penn State on the road, which was just another example of just how difficult it is to win in an opponent’s building in the Big Ten.
Indiana isn’t supposed to win at Michigan, but they were right there at the end, close enough to strike when the Wolverines made a mistake.
That was the doing of Zeller and his 25 points.
And on Michigan’s final mistake — Trey Burke missing a front-end of a 1-and-1 with 27.2 seconds left — it was Zeller who scored in the paint to give the Hoosiers the win and the outright Big Ten title.
He hasn’t been the focal point that often this season and he certainly hasn’t been this team’s media darling. But he was averaging 16.5 points and 8.0 boards entering Sunday with a 123.7 offensive rating (which is very good) while using 26.0% of Indiana’s possessions when he’s on the floor. Only five players in the country — Trey Burke, Kelly Olynyk, Nate Wolters, and Doug McDermott — are that efficient with a usage rate that high.
Zeller’s still a really, really good basketball player.
Don’t forget it just because he’s not the guy everyone is talking about on this team.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.
May 18, 2013, 7:28 PM EDT
There has been a lot of change at Arizona over the past few months, with several players and even a coach leaving the program. Replacing assistant James Whitford, who became head coach at Ball State, was easy: Wildcat legend Damon Stoudamire came back home to round out the staff. But the personnel situation on the…
May 18, 2013, 5:20 PM EDT
Former Baylor player and current WNBA top draft pick Britney Griner made it quite clear recently that she has no problem talking about her sexuality. She spoke with Sports Illustrated shortly after her college career ended, and was candid about something that is, frankly, not really anybody’s business. We now know why she never mentioned…
May 18, 2013, 4:46 PM EDT
The Atlantic Sun tournament was played in front of a near-capacity crowd at Mercer’s Hawkins Arena last March. Hawkins was chosen as the tourney site ahead of time, and the whole event played out there. The reported crowd of 4,394 was packed with Mercer fans who simply had to roll out of bed and find…
May 18, 2013, 3:42 PM EDT
Since he led Team USA to a gold medal in the 2012 Olympics in London, Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski has maintained that it would, in fact, be his last run at the head of the USA Basketball program. That may be changing, however. According to a report from Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated, Coach…
May 18, 2013, 2:32 PM EDT
Adreian Payne was a special guest at Dick Vitale’s celebrity gala on Friday night, but he wasn’t the star of the show. Lacey Holsworth was. If you haven’t heard the story by now, watch the video above. In short, Payne has befriended a seven-year girl, Lacey, who has been battling cancer for much of her…
May 18, 2013, 1:15 PM EDT
After appearing in only four regular season games and registering five minutes of playing time with no statistics, Georgetown forward Brandon Bolden has opted to transfer to Kansas State, the Wildcats announced on Friday. The 6-10, 210-pound Bolden will sit out the upcoming 2013-14 season due to NCAA transfer rules, but will have three years of…
May 18, 2013, 12:12 PM EDT
Lipscomb has finally replaced long time head coach Scott Sanderson, as they hired Stetson head coach Casey Alexander, according to a report. Alexander led the Hatters to a 15-16 record last season, as they finished 11-7 in the Atlantic Sun. Both records were the best for the program since the 2008-2009 season. But here’s where…
May 18, 2013, 11:09 AM EDT
Oregon State picked up a late 2013 commitment when 6-2 combo guard Malcolm Duvivier opted to sign his letter of intent on Friday after previously being a member of the 2014 class. Duvivier — a native of Toronto — was previously regarded as Rivals’ No. 116 player in the 2014 national rankings before filling an…
May 18, 2013, 10:02 AM EDT
Tennessee sophomore center Yemi Makanjuola has opted to transfer to UNC-Wilmington, per a Tweet from Brian Mull of StarNews. Makanjuola — a 6-9, 250-pound native of Nigeria — will have two years of eligibility remaining after NCAA transfer rules force him to sit out next season. Makanjuola will be eligible in the 2014-15 season and saw action…
May 17, 2013, 9:02 PM EDT
One month after making the decision to return to Washington for his senior season, second team All-Pac-12 selection C.J. Wilcox underwent surgery on his left foot to stabilize a stress fracture that according to the Associated Press lingered for much of the 2012-13 season. The purpose of the surgery was to stabilize the fifth metatarsal…
May 17, 2013, 7:55 PM EDT
Last May 6-7 forward Sheldon Jeter chose to attend Vanderbilt, picking the Commodores over Penn State and Wisconsin and South Carolina with Pittsburgh showing some interest late but never offering the Beaver Falls, Pa. native. Jeter played 17.5 minutes per game as a freshman, averaging 5.5 points and 3.4 rebounds per game. And after one…
May 17, 2013, 6:48 PM EDT
In the immediate aftermath of Steve Alford’s decision to leave New Mexico to take over as head coach at UCLA, many wondered how much would he have to pay UNM in order to get out of his contract. While Alford and his representation argued that the coach, who led the Lobos to four Mountain West…
May 17, 2013, 5:50 PM EDT
A good week on the recruiting front for the Xavier coaching staff got even better Friday afternoon. 6-4 guard Remy Abell, who spent his first two seasons at Indiana, announced his decision to transfer to Xavier as reported by multiple outlets. Abell won’t be eligible to play this season per NCAA transfer rules, but he will…
May 17, 2013, 5:23 PM EDT
With three guards, most notably leading scorer DeAndre Kane, deciding to transfer Marshall head coach Tom Herrion was in need of some extra depth for his backcourt in 2013-14. Thanks to a commitment from 2013 combo guard Jaylen Brantley, the Thundering Herd won’t go into next season shorthanded in that area. Brantley, who played at…
May 17, 2013, 4:36 PM EDT
Last month it was reported that Purdue forward Sandi Marcius was running into a major complication in regards to his decision to graduate and then transfer to another school where he would be able to play as a graduate student. That major complication was Purdue’s refusal to pay for the summer school courses Marcius needs…
May 17, 2013, 3:21 PM EDT
Florida Gulf Coast was one of the best stories of the 2013 NCAA tournament, becoming the first 15-seed to reach the Sweet 16 and earning the moniker “Dunk City” (thanks to Troy Machir) with their attractive style of play and penchant for above the rim finishes. And next season the Eagles, under new head coach…
May 17, 2013, 2:29 PM EDT
After two quiet seasons at the University of Texas, sophomore Jaylen Bond made the decision to transfer. Bond, a 6-7 forward from Philadelphia, averaged just 3.1 points and 4.1 rebounds in just under 14 minutes per game during his Longhorn career. Friday, Bond announced his decision to transfer to Temple via Twitter and it’s safe…
May 17, 2013, 1:43 PM EDT
In his six seasons as commissioner of the West Coast Conference, Jamie Zaninovich has helped the conference improve its brand in a variety of ways. Whether it’s been the addition of BYU (Pacific joins this summer) or the idea to move the conference basketball tournaments to Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, it’s safe to say…
May 17, 2013, 12:31 PM EDT
While in Chicago taking part in this week’s NBA Draft Combine, former Kansas shooting guard had to answer some questions regarding the allegations levied by his former AAU coach, Darius Cobb, a couple weeks ago. In a story done by USA Today in early May, Cobb stated that he accepted $10,000 from a runner in…
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