Don't Be Surprised If It's Indiana-Michigan In National Championship Game

By douggriffiths
Trey Burke Michigan Wolverines
Brian Spurlock-USA Today Sports

Thirty-seven years ago Indiana and Michigan met in the NCAA championship game and don’t be surprised at all if history repeats itself this year.

The soon-to-be No. 1-ranked Hoosiers are loaded just like the Wolverines.

The two teams showcased just how good they are Saturday night in IU’s 81-73 win over top-ranked Michigan in Assembly Hall.

On display were half a dozen first-round NBA Draft picks, who could be calling the NBA home as soon as next season.

In addition to having abundance of talent, both IU and Michigan have all the other ingredients necessary to not only make a deep run in the Big Dance, but advance to the Final Four and eventually be national champions.

They’re well coached with John Beilein having advanced one of his West Virginia teams to the Elite Eight and Tom Crean having taken his Dwayne Wade-led Marquette team to the Final Four.

They’re both deep. IU has eight players that average 10.7 minutes or more and another at 9.9, while Michigan has seven players averaging 11.6 minutes or more with another averaging 9.6 minutes.

Statistically they’re impressive as well.

Both teams are well balanced, having four players scoring in double figures.

Speaking of scoring, the Hoosiers lead the nation in scoring, averaging 83.8 points per game, hitting 50.1 percent of their shots from the floor (sixth nationally). The Wolverines also shoot the basketball very well, knocking down 50.5 percent of their shots (third), and are among the top-20 in scoring, pouring in 77.8 points per game.

What will make Michigan, in particular, a tough out on a neutral floor is how few times it turns the ball over – 9.4 miscues a game to rank second in the NCAA – and leads the country in fewest fouls per game (11.8).

Back to personnel for a moment, in IU and Michigan you have a pair of national player of the year candidates in Cody Zeller and Trey Burke, plus you have some of the nation’s best freshmen in Yogi Ferrell, Glenn Robinson III, Nik Stauskas and Mitch McGary.

You also have Christian Watford, Victor Oladipo and Tim Hardaway Jr., who will all garner All-Big Ten honors and very well could be included on All-America teams.

Put it all together and there’s no doubt it’s hard to find a team or teams better than either Michigan or Indiana. That’s not to say the Wolverines and Hoosiers are locks for the Final Four as there just isn’t a great team in college basketball like we had in Kentucky last season.

But it won’t be easy defeating Michigan or IU in the NCAA Tournament.

Both should be No. 1 seeds so they’ll get favorable draws, both likely will get the luxury of playing close to home and neither will face a team that has more talent than they do.

All that adds up to the likelihood of another Michigan-Indiana showdown in the national championship game April 8, which as we found out last night would be a real treat.

Doug Griffiths is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the US Basketball Writers Association. Doug is a columnist/writer for RantSports. Follow him on Twitter @ISLgriffiths and Facebook.

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