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Another Hall first: Top-three showdown

– There have been countless monumental moments at Assembly Hall.

But the gym has never featured a men’s basketball game between two of the top three teams in the country.

That changes tonight when No. 3 Indiana (19-2, 7-1 Big Ten) faces No. 1 Michigan (20-1, 7-1).

The game will – deservedly so – receive plenty of buildup. ESPN’s “College GameDay” will originate from Assembly Hall, beginning at 10 a.m. on ESPNU and switching to ESPN at 11 a.m. Dick Vitale will be in the building as part of the announcing crew for the 9 p.m. tip-off.

“When you look at these situations, your team has to be good and your atmosphere has got to be good too. I think that’s what has helped draw ‘GameDay’ here, and I think at the same time, that’s why it’s going to be such an exciting day, and the world is going to get to see the Hoosier Nation at its finest,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said Friday. “Hopefully (tonight) inside of the game we do our part to make it a great game.”

First place in the Big Ten will be at stake, and the winner could get a leg up on a possible No. 1 seed for the Midwest Region of the NCAA tournament. The Midwest Region takes place in Indianapolis.

But that’s looking way down the line. Right now, both teams are focused on what should be an up-tempo assault. IU leads the Big Ten and the nation in scoring at 84.0 points per game. Michigan is second in the league and 13th in the nation at 78.0 per game.

“Both of our teams like to get out and run and score the ball,” IU senior guard Jordan Hulls said.

Michigan has two of the top scorers in the Big Ten. Sophomore guard Trey Burke is second, averaging 17.9 points, and Tim Hardaway Jr. is sixth, averaging 15.5 points.

“He keeps his dribble alive, and he really just keeps going until he gets what he wants for himself or his teammates,” Crean said of Burke. “He can play with either hand. He’s tremendous in the pick-and-roll, and he’s tremendous in not only scoring the ball but finding open people. He’s got great anticipation skills. You’ve got to take care of the ball against him.”

Burke was listed on the Oscar Robertson midseason watch list. Two Hoosiers, Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo, are also on the list.

Zeller had 19 points and 11 rebounds in Wednesday’s 97-60 thumping of Purdue in West Lafayette.

“Cody is a load no matter who you have on him,” Michigan coach John Beilein said.

IU scored 20 points off 18 Purdue turnovers.

“They really feed off that transition game. The best way to get transition is turn people over,” Beilein said. “They’re really attacking from the minute they get the ball. Whether it’s full-court, whether they have to run a play. They’re in attack mode.

“That’s what’s made them so good.”

Indiana vs. Michigan
When: 9 p.m. today
Radio: 1250 AM, 102.7 FM

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