Top-seeded Indiana to meet Michigan or Northwestern in Big Ten tournament

  • 03/10/2016 9:56 am in

As the top seed with a double bye into Friday’s quarterfinals in the 2016 Big Ten tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indiana won’t have much time to focus on its next opponent.

The Hoosiers will meet the winner of Michigan-Northwestern on Friday at 12 p.m. ET, but won’t know which team they’ll face until roughly 2 p.m. on Thursday afternoon.

Tom Crean said Wednesday that his team is prepared for either outcome and cited the maturity of his team as a major reason why.

“These guys are really mature. We do it (prepare) on one end and then we go on the other,” Crean said. “Rob’s (Judson) got Northwestern and Tim’s (Buckley) got Michigan and we go.”

Indiana played both teams just once in the regular season. The Hoosiers crushed Northwestern, 89-57, on Jan. 23 at Assembly Hall and then beat Michigan handily, 80-67, on Feb. 2 in Ann Arbor.

The Wolverines have stumbled down the stretch and are squarely on the NCAA tournament bubble with losses in four of their last five games. The Wildcats, meanwhile, are playing for a NIT bid and have won five of their last eight games.

“It doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter at all (who we play),” Collin Hartman said Wednesday. “We’re going to come out with the same mindset, we’re going to prepare the same way. There’s probably a few minor detail changes here and there for different teams, but we’re going to come out the same way, with the same mindset and be the same team.”

Johnson, Morgan continue to make progress

The Hoosiers remain banged up entering tournament play as freshman forward Juwan Morgan continues to recover from a left shoulder injury and sophomore guard Robert Johnson, who hasn’t played in 19 days, is still rehabbing from a high left ankle sprain.

Crean said Wednesday that Morgan’s injury in the Maryland game was non-contact and he’s bounced back quickly, but IU is being cautious in bringing him along.

“He’s doing pretty much every thing we’re doing,” Crean said of Morgan, who was also injured in the IU’s Big Ten clinching win over Iowa on March 2. “And we fully expect that not to change.”

Johnson, meanwhile, has missed three straight games after injuring his left ankle in a 77-73 win over Purdue on Feb. 20. Nick Zeisloft has filled in well in Johnson’s absence by hitting nine of his 16 3-point attempts in the last three contests.

While his tone was optimistic in regards to Johnson, the Richmond, Virginia native sounds like he’ll be a game-time decision on Friday.

“Rob Johnson is making strides, but I can’t predict where it’s going to be,” Crean explained. “It’s still too early for that. There’s no question that he’s making strides.”

Hoosiers look for first Big Ten tournament title

The Big Ten tournament, which is being played in Indianapolis for the last time until 2020, hasn’t been kind to Indiana in its 18-year history.

The Hoosiers have never won the Big Ten tournament, are 11-18 all-time in the event and just 3-7 under Crean.

Perhaps playing as the top seed, however, will pay dividends for the Hoosiers. Eight of the 18 Big Ten tournament championships have come from the top seed and the top seed has reached the final in 11 of 18 years.

Crean was asked on Wednesday if he had to refocus his team this week after Sunday’s regular season finale against Maryland to avoid this group feeling any sense of closure.

“Not at all, not one bit. They follow the routine and it changes some, but not at all,” Crean said. “We don’t slice the season up, either. I’ve done that before, but you just keep moving forward.

“And every day when you’ve got a good path like these guys are on, you’re going to have some really good things in the day, you’re going to have some things you’re going to want to correct in the day, but at the end of the day, did you stay consistent in getting better? And they’ve been really good at that, so there’s no reason to change what we’re doing in that sense.”

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  • hardly

    if you don’t see that happening, rewatch the MSU game…it can happen. let’s just hope they stay locked in on defenses and can work through those times WHEN they happen

  • Actually, that’s an excellent point. In fact, I deserve credit for that banner. Hmmm…

  • I really wish I’d saved that game on my DVR. I don’t remember us shooting poorly during the 2nd half, just that Valentine was very good, but that doesn’t mean I’m not just forgetting.

  • About six inches, yeah.

  • inLinE6

    I totally agree. I’m hesitant to change lineups while we keep winning. NZ played extremely well in last couple games. Hitting big shots, awesome defense. And he’s longer than RJ. I guess that’s the way to go for the rest of season but RJ will have plenty of minutes. We need deep roster to go deep in March and April.

  • BL

    Could happen but I don’t believe it will. This team has figured it out on offense – must score in transition (set up by D) and when in half court, must move, cut and attack the paint. A player or two might have an off night but I don’t believe we’ll see a bad team-wide offensive performance.

  • inLinE6

    I believe JW played 19 mins against Maryland so that’s certainly not “limited” minutes any more. Glad to see freshmen grow.

  • inLinE6

    Still not familiar with his face… I hope he fits NZ’s bill next year. But I heard he got a hard flagrant call couple weeks ago. I hope he’s as good character as our other incoming recruits!

  • inLinE6

    Completely agree with being 100% healthy. But I don’t think we want to rest our players enough to lose the game. There’s momentum heading into the tourney and confidence means a lot from now on.

  • bleeding crimson

    Looks as if UM will get a second chance at us. They probably will have tired legs and I hope we run them in the ground with our rotation. I still believe RJ and JM should play limited minutes, meaning 5 and no more ten 10.

  • HuntinHoosier86

    Totally agree

  • bleeding crimson

    Ill. over Iowa by 11 with 8:52 to go. I think Iowa would have a better chance of beating PooDoo but I still want to play PooDoo if we are healthy. I don’t want them to have any chance of bragging rights.

  • BL

    See the article on OG in the star?

  • Yep, saw that, awesome of course. Could have been about both OG and JM, though.

  • BL

    I don’t think it was a slight to JM or the other freshman. Hard to do one that in depth (including family, etc.) on more than one player at a time.

    How about the dunking contests between OG and TW?

  • bleeding crimson

    The CJ in L’ville probably had the same story and heard it was really good, I’ve yet to read it.

  • True enough. Just wanted to point out that a lot of what was said in that story about OG could just as easily have been about JM as well.

  • BL

    Yeah, some really good background info and makes me even more anxious to see him develop.

  • HuntinHoosier86

    Me too. All I really know about him is stuff you’ve probably already read. Just that he’s a shooter and stuff. I don’t know if I’d expect him to play too much next season in the rotation, but you never know….Heck that’s what most were saying about OG before the season started and look at him now!

  • bleeding crimson

    He’ll have his day soon enough.

  • Oops, just realized I hadn’t yet read the whole thing. You’re right, it’s a lot more in-depth that I’d thought. I can only write it off to having this nasty virus, that better go away before tomorrow.

  • hardly

    i think you’re right – i went back and looked and we scored 69 points – i can’t remember how much of that was after the game was decided though…i would have to go look as well.

  • inLinE6

    OG was at least a 3-star and athletic. He got all the tools but you can’t tell whether those could be transformed (remember Hanner?) Gelon did not get star rating until… until he committed to IU, which was when people got to know his name.

  • hardly

    as Mark pointed out(and I also took a quick look) – it appears there has been only 2 bad offensive performance in b10, and that was versus Penn State and Wisconsin (won this one though!). so you’re right – definitely more offensively balanced that last year that’s for sure. AND these guys have found ways to win some ugly games (Wisconsin in AH.)

    i still can’t relax though :).

  • bleeding crimson

    ND just beat Duke and Ill just beat Iowa. Not sure how the ND/Duke game affects our RPI but we beat both Ill and Iowa. Just goes to show anything can happen until the fat lady sings. I do think Ill will have a more difficult time beating PooDoo and Jok rec a Tech foul and was out of the game.

  • Assuming that PU gets past Illinois, I’m not too worried about them. We killed them the first game before falling asleep at the wheel, convinced we won’t let that happen again.

  • Ole Man

    Let’s get by Mich first.
    Then We have plenty to worry about with PUke.
    You’re totally underestimating them.
    IU didn’t fall asleep at the wheel. PUke began to play their game and IU had no answer.
    If they do that from the beginning, IU will be in trouble.

  • You could be right, of course, and I could be entirely 100% wrong. Good thing is, I’m not playing, so it doesn’t matter what I think. 🙂

  • HuntinHoosier86

    Yep, you’re right. I was more just saying that obviously CTC saw something great in him and you never know how he could develop from now until he plays his first game as a Hoosier.

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