What to Expect: Northwestern

011812anIndiana will look to rebound from a surprising home loss to Wisconsin on Sunday afternoon in Evanston as the No. 2 Hoosiers meet Northwestern. Dating back to last season, Indiana will be looking for its fourth straight road win in league play.

The game will be broadcast on Big Ten network at 1 p.m. with Gus Johnson and Mike Kelley on the call. 

If Indiana’s loss to Wisconsin taught us anything, it’s this: Don’t ever take anything for granted in this season’s Big Ten. The Hoosiers were favored by more than 10 points going into Tuesday’s game with the Badgers. Hours later, Wisconsin waltzed out of Assembly Hall in first place.

With four days to prepare, Indiana will travel to Welsh-Ryan Arena, which has often been a home away from home for the Hoosiers, to take on a Northwestern team coming off a 14-point win over Illinois in Champaign. That followed a 20-point Wildcat loss at home to Iowa and a 16-point win at Penn State.

It’s hard to pin down which Northwestern team will show up on Sunday. Will it be the team that just won back-to-back Big Ten games on the road? Or the one that is 2-6 over its last eight home games?

PERSONNEL

Northwestern’s hopes for a first NCAA Tournament appearance, albeit slim, were dealt a significant blow in mid-December when senior forward Drew Crawford was lost for the season after suffering a torn right labrum. Crawford was a potential all-Big Ten player and more importantly, an experienced veteran that Bill Carmody could rely upon. Northwestern was also without leading scorer Reggie Hearn (ankle) for games against Brown and Michigan, but he’s now healthy and will be one of the focal points for the IU defense on Sunday.

With a 59.9 effective field goal percentage and a 65.4 percent free throw rate, Hearn (pictured) is one of the Big Ten’s more efficient and effective guards. He’s particularly dangerous on threes, where he’s connecting on 41 percent of his attempts. Hearn, a senior, can also be disruptive defensively, as he leads the Wildcats with 22 steals. He’s joined in the backcourt by sophomore Dave Sobolewski, the only other Wildcat scoring in double figures. Sobolewski’s assist rate (29.4 percent) is fourth in the Big Ten and he’s connecting on close to 42 percent of his 3-point attempts.

The majority of the backcourt bench minutes will be played by freshman Tre Demps and senior Alex Marcotullio. Demps is coming off a 10-point, four rebound performance in Champaign and is shooting nearly as well on threes (37.2 percent) as he is on twos (41.0 percent). Marcotullio isn’t much of an offensive threat, but takes care of the ball like you’d expect a senior would.

The frontcourt situation is still very much a work in progress after the loss of Crawford. Seven-foot freshman Alex Olah is the anchor and has provided decent defensive rebounding production and has 20 blocks, but isn’t much of a threat to score. Senior Jared Swopshire, a transfer from Louisville, is the team’s third leading scorer (9.1) and leading rebounder (5.9). Kale Abrahamson, another freshman, is the third frontcourt starter. He has size at 6-foot-8, but is mostly a perimeter threat.

POMEROY PREVIEW

011812e

Northwestern hasn’t really deviated from what’s long been their plan of attack under Bill Carmody: A controlled pace of just under 63 possessions per game thus far in Big Ten play, a low turnover percentage (17.4), a heavy emphasis on the 3-point shot (37.2 of their FGA attempts are threes) and no offensive rebounding presence (27.8 OR%, 294th nationally).

As I wrote in this very space prior to the Wisconsin game, Indiana must attempt to dictate pace and do so early. Northwestern is going to attempt to go deep into possessions and force the Hoosiers to defend for all 35 seconds, but that objective could be disrupted if IU is able to get a lead early and force the Wildcats to play at their pace. It didn’t happen against Wisconsin, but figures to be a far more attainable task against Northwestern.

Northwestern isn’t particularly adept at creating turnovers (20.8 defensive turnover percentage), cleaning up the defensive glass (33.1 DR%) or guarding the 3-point line. Obviously Carmody must be concerned about stopping Indiana from raining threes, but Northwestern has allowed an offensive rebounding percentage of more than 40 five times this season. All five instances resulted in a loss.

WHAT IT COMES DOWN TO

Northwestern has been woeful at home this season, losing six of its last eight games at Welsh-Ryan Arena. It’s not fair to call any game in January a must win, but this is a game Indiana needs to win if Big Ten title aspirations are to stay intact.

Pomeroy likes Indiana to win fairly comfortably, 74-61, and gives Indiana an 88% chance of winning its 3rd Big Ten road game of the season. With Penn State coming to Bloomington on Wednesday, this a chance for the Hoosiers to start some positive momentum and then come back home and get ready for the Nittany Lions and a CBS showdown with Michigan State.

All tempo-free stats from KenPom.com.

  • marcusgresham

    The only freshman sitting significant minutes right now how has the skill to make a major contribution is Hollowell. Hanner may kick it in this summer, but right now there’s no way you can count on him for anything–he struggles to catch the ball and he frequently looks lost.

  • WatchingYogi_atYogis

    Lol, yeah you’re right. I’ve never been in the position to fire anyone.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ronald.cordry Ronald Lee Cordry

    Hey Coach Crean, how about some ball screens for America’s BEST shooter: Jordy Hull. *sigh*

  • ShanghaiHoosier

    We missed our chance to get back to # 1 with Louisville losing…

  • Kenneth234

    Cannot play Perea against a team like Northwestern because they will take advantage of his lack of understanding the nuances of the Princeton offence far more than any other player that sees the floor for this team. Similar to the reason that he should not have gotten minutes against Wisconsin.

    I would rather attempt to play Perea in a game against Ohio State, Illinois, Michigan St., Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa, Penn St., Nebraska, and Purdue than against Northwestern and Wisconsin.

  • Evansville Hoosier

    another shared quality: good passers. Perfect for Crean, in other words.

  • Evansville Hoosier

    if rebuilding means finishing 4th or 5th in the B1G I think that’s fine, and i think that’s where we will be if we lose Cody and Victor. I think Vonleh will make a huge impact and I think Yogi will become a star. Honestly think he’ll be one of the top 10 or 15 point guards in the country by then

  • ShanghaiHoosier

    How about some off-ball screens for him?

  • Geoff_85

    “…it seems as if all teams have good shooting nights against us.” Well it might seem that way to you, but Indiana has allowed only 37.5 FG% in their 4 Big Ten games.

  • Geoff_85

    God knows Indiana could use ANYTHING from the bench right now. I hope when Abell comes in he is much more settled down, but Will Sheehey needs to get his swagger back and be Will Sheehey. I’m hoping for a Sheebag in this game.

  • Geoff_85

    God knows Indiana could use ANYTHING from the bench right now. I hope when Abell comes in he is much more settled down, but Will Sheehey needs to get his swagger back and be Will Sheehey. I’m hoping for a Sheebag in this game.

  • Geoff_85

    Yeah, that SUCKS. And now duke will be number one again. Ugh.

  • Geoff_85

    It should be another pace game…but at IU’s pace. I’m hoping they will really push the tempo in this one.

  • Geoff_85

    I can think of at least one thing prettier…Cody Zeller in transition catching a long pass from Yogi Ferrell off a rebound around the free throw line and getting an easy dunk because the defense didn’t have time to get back. That, and scoring more than 60 points per game.

  • Geoff_85

    I can’t wait until Je’Ney Jackson gets a hold of Fischer. He’ll be like Jered Berggren, but with muscles. And a better transition game. So he’ll be like Cody Zeller! Ohhh dreams are fun.

  • mike

    Butler: clearly Indiana’s best college hoops team! Sorry, Mr. WatchingYogi.

  • http://www.vccm.net/ iubase

    jerry – you are right to a point…however CTC’s coaching style is different than Bo’s/Whisky or NW and we have discussed the pros and cons of this….The Izzo style which is similar to CTC can work and the defense which is critical needs to sustain the effort of the full shot clock. The players we have are talented and need to continue to develop better communication. I think they will perform well today. I do not think anyone can beat us if we play like we did the first half of Minnesota. People are over reacting to the Whisky loss and I would not give up on this team. That loss in many ways is a wake up call. The key games lie ahead. I may be wrong but I think this team will do well against OSU, MSU and Mich. My major concern is using the talent and getting them comfortable in tight game situations. Jeremy showed a brief flash, Yogi is maturing but HP needs to step up. I also hope Will starts hitting his shots – which I know he will. If this happens then we have talent and depth and the CTC system will do fine.

    I will bet a beer that we finish ahead of OSU, Whisky, and MSU in big ten standings – which should give us a good seed for the real season.

  • http://www.vccm.net/ iubase

    jerry – you are right to a point…however CTC’s coaching style is different than Bo’s/Whisky or NW and we have discussed the pros and cons of this….The Izzo style which is similar to CTC can work and the defense which is critical needs to sustain the effort of the full shot clock. The players we have are talented and need to continue to develop better communication. I think they will perform well today. I do not think anyone can beat us if we play like we did the first half of Minnesota. People are over reacting to the Whisky loss and I would not give up on this team. That loss in many ways is a wake up call. The key games lie ahead. I may be wrong but I think this team will do well against OSU, MSU and Mich. My major concern is using the talent and getting them comfortable in tight game situations. Jeremy showed a brief flash, Yogi is maturing but HP needs to step up. I also hope Will starts hitting his shots – which I know he will. If this happens then we have talent and depth and the CTC system will do fine.

    I will bet a beer that we finish ahead of OSU, Whisky, and MSU in big ten standings – which should give us a good seed for the real season.

  • Sam Hollan

    IU wins this one easy but that’s not what is important. We need to see a more determined, disciplined team. As it is today, IU’s “depth” is a fraud. IU’s defense is not close to what their numbers suggest. IU’s offense is not as lethal as we believed. And IU’s rebounding is not close to what it has to be to win big games, especially on the road. It’s time for an honest evaluation of this team. Until Yogi finds his shot, until C-Wat commits to defense and rebounding, until the Zeller demands the ball like the best player on the court, this team will be a roller coaster.

  • IUMIKE1

    Excellent point marcus. I’m sure that the rare occasions that DWade or Novak have been around have been enlightening, fun and overall a good thing for the ones still in college. As you say there should be a time soon where these “open-gym” games will be even more helpful and we should get the snowball effect as time goes on. I see nothing but good things coming out it when it comes to recruiting. If one thinks back about some of the comments recruits that ended up at Duke or NCarolina have made when they announce that they are signing with them there is almost always something in there about playing against these type of guys in an “open-gym”. They say how cool it was and how a current or former NBA player told them that this was the best place for them if they are wanting to make it to the next level and that they can help them do that if come there. Again excellent point.

Latest

Powered by WordPress. Designed and developed by Ryan. Read our Privacy Policy. // Back to Top