IU, Michigan in pursuit of something bigger
by Mike Lopresti, USA TODAY Sports
BLOOMINGTON, Ind – Who’s No. 1 now? Does it matter?
No. In college basketball, rankings carry less weight than a cheerleader’s pompom, and No. 1 was not the real issue when Indiana beat Michigan amid such pomp and circumstance Saturday night.
More pertinent: On this early day of February, are these two teams on course for March?
It’ll likely be Indiana’s turn again at the top of the polls after what the Hoosiers did to the Wolverines on Saturday night, but what that means is defeat probably can’t be far behind. The No. 1 teams have come and gone like trains lately; this was the fourth consecutive week they’ve fallen. Life as a target is not easy.
Matter of fact, they were two No. 1 teams this week – the USA TODAY Sports coaches poll said it was Kansas, the Associated Press said it was Michigan – and they both lost Saturday. How many days does that happen?
“That’s why we all love it,” Michigan coach John Beilein said, walking down a corridor of Assembly Hall. “It just keeps getting better and better.”
And to think, he had just lost a game.
But this is not college football, where a high ranking is necessary food for the BCS computers and one bad defeat can mean the Cotton Bowl. “That’s not what we play for,” Indiana coach Tom Crean mentioned, after the Hoosiers dumped the Wolverines 81-73.
They are not looking for votes at the moment. They are looking for growth.
So it was important to Crean that Indiana could play brilliantly at the start to take a 26-11 lead, blow all of it, and then regroup and find a way.
It was encouraging to Beilein that Michigan could come into a frenzied and foreboding atmosphere – Indiana is 32-2 at home the past two years – and push a team that shot 52 percent to the wire.