Indiana to encounter streaking Northwestern on Wednesday

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It took more than three years for Northwestern to earn a winning streak of at least three games against Big Ten opponents.

Tonight in Evanston, the Wildcats (13-14, 4-10) will be going for an even more impressive feat: their fourth straight Big Ten win. The last time they achieved that, their current coach Chris Collins wasn’t even born. They last did it in 1967.

Their opponent, who will be trying to prevent a four-game winning streak, is Indiana.

Heading into tonight’s game as the Hoosiers (19-9, 9-6) look to stop the Wildcats’ streak, they also have their sights set on their fourth road win of the season — something they have done just twice in Crean’s prior six years as Indiana’s head coach.

“It would be pretty important,” junior Yogi Ferrell said. “It would be our fourth road win game and our tenth win in the conference. So let’s get this win, especially get No. 20. It would be great for our team, a great push for us heading into our last part of the season.”

But there is no underestimating the Wildcats — at least not anymore.

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What to Expect: Northwestern

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Indiana goes on the road for the final time this season on Wednesday night for a trip to Evanston to face Northwestern at Welsh-Ryan Arena. The Wildcats are 13-14 overall and 4-10 in the Big Ten, but have won three in a row.

The game will be broadcast on Big Ten Network at 7 p.m. ET with Eric Collins and Stephen Bardo on the call:

Indiana picked up its first win away from Assembly Hall in more than a month on Sunday at Rutgers with an 84-54 rout that was the worst home loss for the Scarlet Knights in 10 years.

Now it will look for a fourth Big Ten road win in a venue that’s typically filled with a large contingency of Hoosier fans in Welsh-Ryan Arena. Indiana won in Evanston last season, but Northwestern has some momentum late in the season with three straight wins (at Minnesota, Iowa, Penn State).

A win would give Indiana its 20th on the season and make the Hoosiers a near certainty to make the NCAA tournament field next month. A loss, however, would mean there’s still work to do to close out the regular season in Bloomington.

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Video: Crean, IU players preview Northwestern

Tom Crean, Nick Zeisloft and Yogi Ferrell met with the media on Tuesday afternoon at Assembly Hall to preview Wednesday’s game against Northwestern at Welsh-Ryan Arena.

Watch both press conferences below:

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March Watch: IU a No. 7 seed in most recent projections

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For the fourth straight week, Indiana split a pair of games, but the Hoosiers remain in very good position to return to the NCAA tournament after missing the postseason last season. The Hoosiers enter Wednesday’s game against Northwestern at Welsh-Ryan Arena with a 19-9 mark overall and a 9-6 record in Big Ten games.

We’re back this week with another edition of “March Watch,” which will be a weekly feature up until Selection Sunday on March 15. We’ll take a updated look at IU’s current nitty gritty profile, bracket projections, the Big Ten’s tournament prospects and more.

Overview

Indiana has built a strong tournament profile with several wins over teams currently projected to make the field including Butler, SMU, Ohio State and Maryland. IU also has a win over Illinois, which is right on the bubble line in most projections. With three conference games to go, including two at Assembly Hall against teams who could make the tournament, opportunities remain for Indiana to further strengthen its resume.

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Film Session: Rutgers

Indiana started the second half of its victory against Rutgers on a 9-0 run to push the lead out to 19 points on its way to a blowout win.

We’ll take a look at what the Hoosiers did on both sides of the ball during this stretch in the latest edition of Film Session:

Off a Rutgers miss to start the half, James Blackmon Jr. grabs the rebound and he passes to Yogi Ferrell:

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From there, it’s what we’ve seen from Indiana time and again this season. Ferrell pushes it up and finds a teammate with space behind the 3-point line. It’s Robert Johnson:

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Junior Etou closes out, but he isn’t off his feet as Johnson hits the top of his shooting form. The 3-point shot drops to start the run:

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Hartman’s status “uncertain” ahead of trip to Northwestern

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Indiana sophomore forward Collin Hartman, who left Sunday’s 84-54 win at Rutgers with an apparent left knee injury, is day-to-day according to Tom Crean. (Update: On Tuesday, Tom Crean said Hartman’s injury is a bone bruise to his lower leg.)

On his radio show Monday night, Crean said he was unsure whether Indiana would have Hartman, who spent Monday undergoing tests, for Wednesday’s trip to Northwestern. The suddenly hot Wildcats have won three straight games.

“It’s too early to tell. The doctors were in today,” Crean told Don Fischer. “His status is a little uncertain right now. Right now it’s going to be day-to-day for a bit.”

Hartman, who has come off the bench for Indiana’s last two games, played 11 minutes and went scoreless in IU’s win over the Scarlet Knights.

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Big Ten Power Rankings: February 23

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The Inside the Hall Big Ten Power Rankings are back for another week, as Wisconsin is now just a game away from clinching at least a share of the Big Ten title, while three other teams — Purdue, Maryland and Michigan State — have separated themselves by a two-game margin in the top four of the Big Ten standings.

Here’s a look at where each team stands following the eighth week of play in 2015: 

14. Rutgers (10-18, 2-13, PPP: .87, PPP Allowed: 1.07) (Last week: 14) … The Scarlet Knights’ pitiful slide toward the bottom of the Big Ten standings took another step in that direction this past week with two 30-point losses. The first, an 81-47 defeat, came on the road at Iowa, who was coming off two losses of their own. The second was an 84-54 home loss to Indiana on Sunday, the fifth straight game they were limited to less than a point per possession. After Sunday’s loss, Rutgers coach Eddie Jordan was asked whether his team still has fight. It does, he suggested, but he said his team simply isn’t “good enough” yet to compete in this league. (Next up: Feb. 26 at Purdue)

13. Penn State (15-13, 3-12, PPP: .95, PPP Allowed: 1.01) (Last week: 12) Another season has gone to the wayside for the Nittany Lions. There was a glimmer of hope after beating Nebraska on Feb. 7, but since then they have turned in three of their four-worst offensive outputs of the season — two of them coming in the past week — all of them losses. In fact, Saturday’s 60-39 defeat at Northwestern, in which they recorded just .68 PPP, was the third worst offensive effort the Nittany Lions have had in Pat Chambers’s entire four years in State College. (Next up: Feb. 28 vs. Iowa)

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