Michigan has hit a rut as it's gotten to the toughest part of its schedule. UM has lost three of the past four and with Sunday's game at Indiana — where the Wolverines have won just twice since the 1989 national championship year — the streak could extend.
UM (13-10, 6-5 Big Ten) hasn't had a three-game skid in conference play since 2010-11, and without Caris LeVert and Derrick Walton Jr., the task is that much more difficult.
Walton, who has missed the last three games because of a foot injury, could return this season — a potential upgrade from last week, when coach John Beilein said that Walton would be out for "the foreseeable future" because of an injury compounded by a turf-toe issue.
With only seven games left in the regular season, plus the Big Ten Tournament, there isn't much time left for Walton to heal and return, but Beilein indicated when the pain subsides, Walton could be back in action.
"He's in that (walking) boot and when he can walk pain-free again, then we'll start looking at it. We're doing therapy in the pool and different things with him. We're very hopeful he can return at some point this year," Beilein told reporters Saturday.
"There's no break (in the foot); there's been a reaction to how he was playing off that foot. We hope that in a week or two or three, he's going to be pain free; when he's pain-free, hopefully he'll be able to get back out there."
Walton is undergoing therapy for the foot and has been on crutches or a knee scooter so that he could keep weight off the foot.
"I'm very hopeful he can be back. I just don't know the date because it's a wait-and-see," Beilein said. "It's like every three or four days where they're going to test him — not X-rays and things like that — but to see if he can move and walk."
In 19 games, Walton led the Wolverines with 4.7 rebounds and added 10.7 points and 3.0 assists but missed the Nebraska game, which UM won. Freshman Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman took over for Walton, because Beilein feared that if Walton kept playing on the injured foot, it could get worse.
"For him to continue to play in pain did not make much sense for us because further damage could be done," he said. "We want him to be healthy before he goes.
"The good news is the turf toe will be better when it's all done too – that's the hope -- that we're killing two birds with one stone."
Michigan at Indiana
When: Sunday, 1 p.m.
Where: Assembly Hall, Bloomington, Ind.
Records: Michigan 13-10, 6-5 Big Ten; Indiana 16-7, 6-4 Big Ten.
TV / radio: CBS / WWJ 950-AM