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Thursday, January 31, 2013
Michigan-Indiana a clash of styles

By Dick Vitale

Saturday night will be one of those special matchups when Michigan and Indiana square off.

It will be reminiscent of last year's Kentucky-Indiana game when the Wildcats came in No. 1 and left with an L. Let's hope this weekend's game comes close to matching the drama, intensity, emotion and passion of Big Blue Nation vs. the Hoosiers.

There is even more at stake in Saturday's game because it's a conference matchup. I think coaches will tell you how important it is to win a conference championship. It is special, and getting there tests a team's consistency and durability. Both of these teams are among the statistical leaders in the Big Ten and even rank in the top 10 nationally in multiple categories.

When you look at the individual matchups, there is a lot of intrigue.

Cody Zeller has to dominate inside the way he did against the Wolverines in Bloomington last season.

Indiana has to slow down the best backcourt in America in Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Nik Stauskas. Burke has been solid, with 30 assists and just six turnovers over the past four games.

Will Indiana be able to get to the free throw line? The Hoosiers lead the nation in getting to the line, going 578 times already. Michigan has committed the fewest fouls in the nation. Talk about a contrast in styles. Michigan knows the whistle is going to be big in this contest.

Indiana put on a clinic against Purdue in its last game, shooting 61 percent from the field in the first half, hitting 19 of 20 from the line for the game. Michigan had an impressive win over Northwestern, setting the stage for this thriller.

Both teams have won four games in a row.

I know there is excitement galore as "College GameDay" will be rocking and rolling. Dan Shulman, Shannon Spake and I are looking forward to calling all of the action.

The road is not easy for either team. Michigan has quite a stretch ahead: at Indiana, vs. Ohio State, at Wisconsin and at Michigan State. I will also be in Ann Arbor (with Mike Tirico) for Buckeyes-Wolverines as Michigan tries to avenge a loss in Columbus. It will be my first time at Crisler Arena in a long time.

Life in the Big Ten is pretty wacky. It is the premier conference in the nation, no doubt about it.

Don't tell me college basketball in the regular season doesn't matter. Games like this are so special for the players, coaches, media and the fans.