Indiana prepares for first round match-up with Chattanooga

  • 03/13/2016 11:22 pm in

After a stunning loss to Michigan in the Big Ten tournament, Indiana is back to work. After learning their NCAA tournament pairing on Sunday evening, the Hoosiers are preparing for a match-up with Chattanooga, the No. 12 seed in the east regional.

IU is the No. 5 seed – a spot that isn’t quite as high as many expected, including Tom Crean.

“I was smart enough to bring our Big Ten Championship trophy into the team room,” Crean said. “I’m glad it was down there because we needed a quick visual reminder that we were a Big Ten champion. So I’ll leave that for other people to talk about.”

The game is set for 7:10 p.m. ET on Thursday in Des Moines, Iowa. It will be televised by CBS.

Chattanooga is 29-5 overall and went 15-3 in the Southern Conference. The Mocs picked up several nice non-conference wins, namely over Dayton, Georgia and Illinois, all on the road. They lost by 20 on the road at Iowa State.

“What we know about Chattanooga is that they have been battle tested,” Crean said. “There is no question about that, not only in their league but from the very beginning. (First year coach) Matt McCall has got a great background at Florida with Billy Donovan and took over the job at Chattanooga with a veteran team and has done an outstanding job.”

Chattanooga ranks No. 53 in RPI and No. 92 in BPI. In KenPom.com’s rankings, the Mocs are No. 107.

They average 75.8 points per game, and are led by juniors Tre’ McLean and Justin Tuoyo who average 12.3 and 11.1 points per contest respectively. McLean was named first team All-Southern Conference and Tuoyo was the SoCon defensive player of the year – his second time winning the award.

“We’re only guaranteed one game right now, and that’s against Chattanooga Thursday night,” Crean said. “So that’s the most important thing and the only thing we’ll get ready for.”

Chattanooga will run a press periodically throughout the game, but Crean says he thinks his squad handles pressure well and doesn’t think it would be too different than handling a press similar to Iowa’s.

“They’re definitely not going to get overlooked at all,” Max Bielfeldt said. “You can’t at this point of the year. You’ve got to give everything you’ve got scouting and learn them like the back of your hand.”

Looming potentially in the second round is a date with No. 4 seed Kentucky. The two schools have not met since the 2011-12 season when Indiana beat Kentucky at Assembly Hall before the Wildcats got revenge in the Sweet 16.

Crean says he isn’t going to worry about Kentucky until his team gets by Chattanooga.

“The key ingredient I would say is to play every game like it’s your last,” Yogi Ferrell said. “You never know what stop in the game is going to be the one for you to win the game. Just got to have the mindset, got to be connected. You’ve got to have great fundamentals.”

Ferrell also said he believes the chemistry of this season’s team will go a long way in being able to make a run. He said the guys on the team this year seem to want everything more and are willing to fight for their teammates.

Bielfeldt is another guy that brings previous tournament experience, and will be counted on to help the younger players.

“You’ve got to be that team that can withstand more of the pressure than the other team,” Bielfeldt said. “When things really get crazy instead of breaking you come closer together and you really just play as one offensively, defensively, and that’s when you really get it going.”

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  • Fifer39

    Got to avoid silly fouls definitely and despite all the talk about how the refs have been horrible for us most of the season, we have given away some dumb ones. But we can’t afford to change the way we play too much and have to rely on that next man up mentality if we’re starting with half the bench crocked. The whole team can’t be tentative.

    For me this is about tempo as much as anything. Seems to me where we’ve struggled is when things have slowed down too much either because we have let the other team dictate (UM) or where we’ve settled into a half court game too early and allowed other teams to make a run (IA, PU). We’ve got to keep looking for the points in transition but be smart enough to bring it back out when it’s not there. That’s mental discipline as much as anything at this stage and being relentless for 40 minutes.

  • INUnivHoosier

    I most definitely agree.

  • Koko

    I’m basing my opinion on RJ seeing him dressed and in the pre-game shoot around at the MU game. Doubt his high ankle sprain, if as serious as it could be, would let him do that. Just my fingers crossed opinion. I see no pessimism on your opinion of JM. Like I said he is a tough cookie to have played the season with that problem. Unfortunately it appears to have caught up with him.

  • bleeding crimson

    It all comes down to money, How many folks will watch an IU vs KY game?
    You can go on down the the list. They plan this out for ratings, not for performance..

  • BL

    No doubt we should have been a 3 or 4 seed. Unfortunately, we may not play like it with the injuries.

    The other BIG teams will definitely show the country the Committee got it wrong. The bottom dwellers don’t matter. The teams at the top of the conference can all play; ask Kansas and the ACC.

  • Koko

    In reference to your last sentence….so does Izzo.

  • bleeding crimson

    I agree, it also creates the habit to running around the 3 pt line and not passing the ball. We can beat them on the pressure off, which many teams have a hard time with. That is why L’vill is so successful.

  • BL

    Yes and transition starts on the defensive end.

  • BL

    Hoping for the same on RJ. We need him now more than ever. Hope he’s been shooting a ton. If CH is limited, we’re going to need some offense from RJ.

  • Koko

    Resting it was in my fixing category. If he can’t shoot then we can only rely on his D, driving to the basket and rebounding. All three of which can be hampered as well. I really hate this injury stuff occurring but yes it is part of the game. I’m feeling like I did when Scott May broke his arm/wrist (can’t remember which) and we lost by 2 points to Kentucky in the tournement.

  • IULore

    Did anyone else notice where they flashed the names of several featured seniors during the show? Yogi’s name left off, of course.

  • Koko

    True and of course a hot shooting NZ will help.

  • BL

    Same with Henderson.

    The key at this point is RJ, especially if CH and JM are limited. If RJ can contribute significantly, Coach can shorten his basic rotation to YF/RJ/TW/OG/TB/NZ/MB with VERY limited minutes around timeouts for CH/JM/HN/RB. Staying out of foul trouble will be key but hey, it’s one and done season. Our starters are going to have to suck it up and play big minutes.

  • Koko

    Agree for sure. I always root for the Big Ten in the tournament….wait for this…..even PU. There I said it….I think I feel better. I’m all in for the B1G conference come tourney time….always. Unless of course, PU is playing another B1G team….:)

  • BL

    and YF, TW, TB ….

  • Sarasota Hoosier

    so, whats your explanation for Virginia, they did not win either regular or tournament.

  • Koko

    Oh hell yah….those three need to have the hammer down from the get go and never let up.

  • Sarasota Hoosier

    They definitely used history to undercut B1G, we only had 2 in the final 4 last year.

  • BL

    Me too. Actually, I had some buddies play football at PU (Mark Herrmann et al) so I’m not a big PU hater like most IU fans. Funny though, my father played on the ’53 IU NCAA championship team and I swear, sometimes he seems to take more pride in beating PU that year 113 to 78 (I believe the most points we ever scored against PU).

  • Sarasota Hoosier

    I share everyone’s concern, as high ankle sprains can take months to heal properly. RJ can probably shoot and move in 1 direction but I bet his lateral movement is very limited, and that is what we will need on defensive end.

  • Koko

    Ha Ha on your dad…..heck with a NCAA championship….we beat crap outta PU….LOL. Well done for your dad….a Branch McCracken kid.

  • Fifer39

    That’s my confession too. I justify it by thinking what’s good for the B1G is ultimately good for IU.

  • Fifer39

    Yep. Funny how our offense got more efficient when we started defending properly.

  • Kiddo2050

    Correct. Those 3s drop and its a walk for IU and we are talking how great we are. After senior night hoopla a loss like that may have been what they needed to have them focus and work hard this week.

  • IU Hoosiers # 34, 1979-83

    I owe you a huge apology and accolade. You were correct on IU’s seeding and I was way off. My apology if I was a little rough with the comments.

  • BL

    Counting on it.

  • CreamandCrimson

    I was not surprised that we failed to receive a three-seed. However, I was stunned that we were given a 5, stunned that we were looking at a 29-win team in the first round and Kentucky in the second round (if we won) and stunned that we were in the East Region while Purdue was given an easier 4-seed opponent, an easier 1-seed opponent and a regional site closer to home (Chicago).

    Thanks for your apology. It is completely unnecessary because you were never insulting or demeaning towards me but I appreciate it nonetheless. I know you are heading to Des Moines so have fun and go Hoosiers!

  • MarkHoltzHoosier

    Both Mateen Cleaves and Tom Coverdale led their teams to the Finals (one of them won) through some nasty ankle sprains!

  • MarkHoltzHoosier

    That’s OK, I’ll take his crafty layups!

  • Outoftheloop

    I just watched the PAC Championship game OR v UT. Oregon is awesome!!

  • Outoftheloop

    I watched them win their conference Tourney. About as good as NW, but better shooters and no Olaff. They play hard and defend, with few mistakes.