The title “March Watch” has been jettisoned out in favor of “Bubble Watch” for now as Indiana is officially a bubble team in early February. At this point the past two seasons, the NCAA tournament discussion regarding the Hoosiers was about seeding and location.
The debut of Bubble Watch takes a look at IU’s current nitty gritty profile, some of the current competition for at-large spots and what the Hoosiers might need to do to reach the tournament for a third straight season.
It’s been a roller coaster season so far in Bloomington as Indiana has home wins over a pair of top 10 (at the time) teams in Michigan and Wisconsin, but also has a home loss to Northwestern and just two wins away from Assembly Hall. With nine conference games to go, including five on the road, there’s still plenty of time for Indiana to strengthen its resume.
Yogi Ferrell’s work in denying Nik Stauskas the basketball was a key to victory in Sunday’s 63-52 win over the Wolverines. Beyond Yogi’s ball denial, Indiana’s decision to put Will Sheehey on Jordan Morgan was also key, as it created a situation in which he was free to switch onto more athletic Wolverines on ball screens.
A look at Yogi’s denial work, Sheehey’s switching and a supercut of all Ferrell’s 3-point attempts in the latest edition of Film Session:
From the beginning of the contest, Ferrell D’ed up. Often, Michigan would send Morgan to the left wing to set a screen for Stauskas like here:
But Ferrell would simply speed through it with him:
In last Thursday evening’s 60-55 loss to Nebraska, Indiana allowed the Cornhuskers a 6-of-11 mark from distance after halftime. It was just one of many reasons why Nebraska was able to trim a 13-point halftime deficit, take the lead and eventually win the game.
A look at how the Hoosiers gave up four of Nebraska’s six makes in the latest edition of Film Session:
Noah Vonleh scores in the paint for the Hoosiers. Troy Williams has followed the shot looking for a tip-in dunk, but the ball is through the hoop as he grabs the rim:
Williams falls to the floor and Nebraska takes over possession and inbounds the ball:
The Big Ten held its weekly coaches teleconference on Monday morning to review the fifth week of conference play. Here are some notes and quotes from Tom Crean’s appearance:
· Prior to the call, the conference announced that Noah Vonleh was named the league’s freshman of the week for the seventh time this season. The seven weekly honors tie Vonleh for second most since the award began in 2010. Northwestern’s Drew Crawford and Penn State’s D.J. Newbill shared Big Ten player of the week honors.
· Opening Statement: “We had a great victory yesterday over Michigan and now we are right on into Minnesota. We have a week to get better. We have a week to prepare for them and we’re looking forward to it.”
· On IU having six days off before its next game: “We just have to focus on areas of improvement and getting better at areas of strengths. At the same time, work it into the game plan as we get deeper into the week, just making sure that we make it as competitive as possible. At the same time, get them the rest that they need.”
· On Evan Gordon being ill leading up to Sunday’s game: “He just was under the weather. He was being treated for the flu and, even though that came back negative, he was definitely under the weather for a couple of days. You’re certainly sick when you are missing practice, which he did. But, he kept his spirit alive and he tried to prepare even when he was away from the team on Saturday. Then, Sunday morning he was back and cleared and I knew we were going to have him in a limited role from basically talking to the doctors and Tim Garl. We wanted to really keep an eye on his minutes yesterday but, at the same time, he came out and played with great energy and he played fantastic.”
The Inside the Hall Big Ten Power Rankings are back for another week as conference play continues to prove to be, well, unpredictable. This week’s rankings feature another set of shake-ups after yet another wild week in conference action that saw plenty of upsets.
Without further ado, check out where each team stands after week five of league play:
12. Illinois (13-9, 2-7, PPP: .94, PPP Allowed: 1.03) (LAST WEEK: 11) … Illinois’s slide to the bottom of the Big Ten became complete on Saturday, as the Illini scored its most points since Jan. 4 against Penn State but allowed 81 points en route to a seven-point loss at home to Iowa. The Illini haven’t won since that game against the Nittany Lions and will get their second chance at the Nittany Lions this week in State College. (Up next: Feb. 4 vs. Wisconsin, Feb. 9 at Penn State)
11. Purdue (13-9, 3-6, PPP: .99, PPP Allowed: 1.04) (LAST WEEK: 9) … After two losses this week on the road — one to a surging Michigan squad and another to Penn State on Sunday — the Boilermakers find themselves on a four-game losing streak and near the bottom of the Big Ten standings, once again. Though Purdue is rebounding 36.1 percent of its misses in Big Ten play, it hasn’t really mattered much, as it is shooting only a 42.9 effective field goal percentage (second-worst in conference action) and is getting 14.4 percent of its shots blocked. (Up next: Feb. 5 vs. Minnesota, Feb. 8 at Ohio State)
Indiana moved to 14-8 with a 63-52 win over No. 10 Michigan on Sunday afternoon. The victory moved the Hoosiers to 4-5 in Big Ten play and into a four-way tie for fifth in the conference standings.
Here’s a look at five takeaways from IU’s third straight win over Michigan:
· Indiana’s defensive plan made Nik Stauskas a non-factor: At the midway point of conference play, Michigan sophomore Nik Stauskas is the Big Ten’s top offensive player, but Indiana took him out of Sunday’s game by having Yogi Ferrell deny him the ball and forcing his teammates to do the heavy lifting offensively.
Stauskas finished with six points on just 1-of-6 shooting from the field and denying him the ball not only prevented him from scoring, it also stopped his ability to facilitate, an underrated part of his game. The Michigan offense typically gets a lot from Stauskas finding teammates off of ball screens, but that wasn’t the case against Indiana.
“(I was) basically just trying to limit his touches really,” Ferrell said. “Overplaying the screens, not getting screened. I didn’t want him to get the ball and get one-on-one drives.”
· Ferrell continues to prove his value as a two-way player: Offense wasn’t a big part of Yogi Ferrell’s game as a freshman, but he was one of Indiana’s better defenders. As a sophomore, Ferrell is routinely guarding some of the league’s best perimeter players while also carrying a huge load offensively for Indiana.
Michigan coach John Beilein admitted he didn’t have an answer to it. Anything he drew up in the huddle during timeouts simply wouldn’t work.
Playing at Indiana on Sunday afternoon in front of an announced 17,472 at Assembly Hall, his Wolverines’ offense was stifled.
After being held to a season-low 52 points, No. 10 Michigan (16-5, 8-1) suffered its first Big Ten loss of the season to Indiana (14-8, 4-5), a team that was coming off a five-point loss at Nebraska only three days earlier. And it was a 63-52 defeat.
“Tom (Crean) and his staff did a really good job,” Beilein said. “The defensive game plan was outstanding. We hadn’t seen anything like it since I’ve been here and we ended up trying to adjust on the fly.”
What, specifically, caused the Wolverines — a team that was averaging 75.1 points per game during its 10-game win streak — so much trouble? It all had to do with how the Hoosiers handled the Wolverines’ screens on offense.
“We haven’t seen when they put our primary screener with a switch guy, with [Will] Sheehey, and that’s what changed a lot of things,” Beilein said. “Drawing that up in the huddle and practicing it are two different things.”