- Michael Rothstein, ESPN Staff Writer
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Overview: Even from the beginning of the season, it always seemed like the Big Ten title race -- one way or another -- was going to involve the season-finale between Michigan and Indiana.
And what a finale it was.
There were 15 lead changes and three ties. Both teams had at least a seven-point lead in the first half. Two of the top three players in the country, Michigan’s Trey Burke and Indiana’s Victor Oladipo, went back and forth with big baskets down the stretch, often with Oladipo guarding Burke.
Yet in the final minute Michigan watched its chance to win a share of the Big Ten title bounce away with caroms off the rim from free throws -- with two on the final possession from Burke and Jordan Morgan.
In some ways, this game typified the entire season in the Big Ten. Big players. Big plays. A game decided in the final possessions. With Indiana’s win, the Hoosiers won an outright Big Ten title for the first time since 1993.
Turning point: Burke and Morgan both missed good shots at the basket after a layup by Cody Zeller with 13 seconds left gave Indiana a 72-71 lead. It finished off a final minute in which the Hoosiers came back from four points down because of missed Michigan free throws.
Key player: Indiana junior guard Oladipo. The national Player of the Year candidate had a double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds -- something achieved before the midway point of the second half. More importantly for the Hoosiers, they switched Oladipo onto Burke late in the first half. Oladipo then did what elite defenders often do. He forced Michigan to play with their point guard off the ball, essentially changing what the Wolverines typically do.
Key stat: Three. That is the amount of free throws Michigan missed down the stretch, turning a four-point lead with 1:25 remaining into a one-point loss. Worse for Michigan was that two of its best players -- Tim Hardaway Jr. and Burke -- missed two of the free throws.
Miscellaneous: Zeller had a game-high 25 points and 10 rebounds, including the game-winning bucket. ... Burke had 20 points, but on an inefficient 20 shots. ... Michigan played 12 players in the first half, including little-used seniors Blake McLimans and Matt Vogrich. Indiana went 10 players deep in the first half. ... Michigan has lost two home games in the past two seasons -- both on Senior Day and both to teams from Indiana. Last year the Wolverines lost to Purdue. This year, the Hoosiers.
Next game: Both Michigan and Indiana are playing in next week’s Big Ten tournament. The Hoosiers will be the No. 1 seed in the tournament, the first time the Hoosiers have ever been the top seed.