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Pick to Click: Ohio State

Will this be the game someone other than Verdell Jones takes the honors? Picks are due prior to Wednesday’s 6:30 p.m. ET tip. Updated standings will be available this weekend.

Video: Tom Crean talks Ohio State

Via @TomCrean on Twitter:

High-flying Oladipo will play in Derby Festival Classic

Last season’s Kentucky Derby Festival Classic at Freedom Hall gave Indiana fans a glimpse of things to come with a trio of incoming freshmen.

There was Jordan Hulls connecting with Christian Watford, the Gold Team MVP, for a fastbreak alley oop. And there was Maurice Creek carrying an Indiana flag above his head during the pregame warmups.

This year’s game, which will be played on April 10, will include high-flying DeMatha wing and IU signee, Victor Oladipo. (Game information available here.)

“Yeah, I’m going to play in that one,” Oladipo told Inside the Hall via telephone on Monday evening.

Oladipo has emerged as a senior leader for the Stags, who are 20-3 and No. 20 in the latest USA Today Super 25.

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Looking past Northwestern for just one moment

Big Ten Tournament: Indiana Hoosiers v Penn State Nittany LionsUnderstatement of the new year: This was not a banner Saturday-Sunday (or just Sunday, really) for many of you, and it’s probably even worse to think about the fact that, not only did IU lose at Assembly Hall north, but the Colts were undone by a former Hoosier and a former Boilermaker together.

In acknowledgment of your fragile state of mind, (and also because I don’t want an angry mob outside my apartment tonight) the references to any certain Super Bowl that may have been played in the last 48 hours will end here. But I did want to touch on the Northwestern loss for a moment, because it sparked within me some food for thought.

By now, I think it’s fair to say that we can generally agree that Verdell Jones looks like a candidate to be considered one of the Hoosiers’ team leaders next season. He’s increased his scoring by almost four points per game, he’s got a better assist-to-turnover ratio and he’s rebounding the ball better compared to last season.

More than that, Jones is one of the few Hoosiers who appears to be comfortable being a vocal leader — shots of him getting in teammates’ faces after fouls or poor decisions, or explaining things in tense situations against Minnesota would be examples of this.

I’ll also throw into the conversation the fact that, at his current pace, Jones will improve in several categories, including scoring, in Big Ten play, when competition is supposed to be tougher. In fact, his top five scoring performances have all come in conference play.

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Sheehey continues solid season for Sagemont

Throughout the season, Inside the Hall will keep you posted on how 2010 signees Victor Oladipo and Will Sheehey and 2011 commitments Austin Etherington and Matt Carlino, as well as other notable prospects being recruited by Indiana, are performing at their respective schools.

You can send us stats or results for this report at tips@insidethehall.com. Here’s our latest update:

+ Victor Oladipo – DeMatha (MD): Nine points, including a 3-pointer, as DeMatha beat St. John’s 70-54 on February 2. DeMatha was scheduled to play Good Counsel on February 5, but that game appears to have been cancelled due to the blizzard in the D.C. area.

+ Will Sheehey – Sagemont (FL): 14 points and seven rebounds in a 56-52 win over Oldsmar on February 1. 12 points and nine rebounds as Sagemont beat Miami LaSalle 46-35 on February 4. In a nationally televised game against Monteverde on February 5, Sheehey had 14 points in a 57-52 loss.

+ Austin Etherington – Hamilton Heights (IN): The Huskies fell to 11-5 with a 70-63 loss at Westfield on February 6. Etherington had a game-high 27 points, including 11-of-11 free throws.

+ Matt Carlino – Bloomington South (IN): Bloomington South moved to 16-0 with a 67-49 rout of Columbus North, clinching a share of the Conference Indiana title. Carlino had six points, 12 rebounds and six assists.

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The Minute After: Northwestern

Sorry for the tardiness here, ended up stopping for a bite to eat on the way back down from Evanston to Chicago. In an effort to make amends, here’s a photo of Tom Crean at the United Center last night taking in Dwyane Wade vs. the Bulls.


The most telling sign this was just not IU’s day?

For all the Hoosier fans inside Welsh-Ryan Arena — and there were plenty of them, as is usually the case for this game — only twice was there a reason to stand up and cheer. Just before half when the Hoosiers cut it to nine after the Daniel Moore steal and Jeremiah Rivers layup, IU fans got on their feet, but they were quickly silenced when NW’s Mike Capocci dunked it home with just a few ticks left on the clock.

And in the second half when IU cut it down to 11 with 7:03 to go, the first and only collective “IU clap clap” cheer emanated down from the rafters.

But it was short lived.

What this afternoon came down to was Northwestern comfortably and effectively running their offensive sets, and Hoosiers doing anything but. When the Wildcats weren’t getting those easy buckets off their patented back cuts and screens, they were going to their bread and butter this season: the 3-point shot. Almost 40 percent of their points came on threes today, as they hit 10-of-25 for 40 percent. They also shot a blistering 52.1 percent for the game. They executed all game long, and scored 78 points — almost 10 points over their season average.

Conversely, IU looked lost offensively, and rare was it they got a good look or easy lay-in. Northwestern’s defense didn’t allow them to get into a flow or rhythm; shot-clock violations ran rampant. You have to wonder if after playing two emotional games against rivals, it allowed for a bit of a mental letdown against a squad with lesser talent today.

And how’s this one for you: Devan Dumes, Bobby Capobianco, Jordan Hulls, Derek Elston and Tom Pritchard were a combined 2-of-19 for the game. Outside of Verdell Jones — who scored a career-high 28 points — and Christian Watford — 5-of-11, 16 points — the Hoosiers only got another 17 points from the rest of their roster. They only shot 35.3 percent for the game, and missed all seven threes they took in the second half. It’s hard to come back from a double-digit deficit in the second half when you’re not knocking down shots.

IU was just never able to score on consecutive trips down the floor, while also getting a few stops on defense to try and make a run to get this thing close in the second half.

It’s frustrating, because outside of the shooting, some of the Hoosiers’ usual pitfalls weren’t issues today: they had a season-low eight turnovers, and hit 23-of-27 free throws for 85.2 percent.

Alright, this was nothing profound (as per usual), and I’ve barely paid attention to the Super Bow here, so I’m going to end it here.

On to the next one.

Hoosiers lack toughness in 78-61 loss at Northwestern

You could call it hot shooting by Northwestern. Or you could call it poor defense by Indiana. Maybe it was a little bit of both on Super Bowl Sunday in Welsh-Ryan Arena.

But when the dust settled, Indiana looked nothing like the team that had just taken Illinois and Purdue to the wire in a pair of hard-fought losses.

And Northwestern, which inched closer to the .500 mark in conference play, looked like a team poised to work its way back into the NCAA Tournament conversation with a convincing 78-61 win over the Hoosiers.

“We just don’t have a toughness about us that’s there everyday,” Indiana coach Tom Crean told Don Fisher on the postgame radio show. “We didn’t come with a street fight mentality at the beginning of the game at all.”

The Wildcats (16-8, 5-6 Big Ten) jumped out to a 10-2 lead, hit 10 of 25 from behind the 3-point line, shot 52 percent from the field and were never really challenged by Indiana.

All five starters for Bill Carmody’s team, which had 21 assists and just 10 turnovers, scored in double figures, led by 16 from John Shurna. The 6-8 sophomore hit five 3-pointers and had six assists, five rebounds and three blocks. Luka Mirkovic added 14 points and Jeremy Nash had 13 points and 10 rebounds.

“We did not come out with the mentality that we were going to get into these guys,” Crean said. “The bottom line was that we had to defend the 3-point line. We had to pressure up, they’ve shot 100 more three’s than us. There’s a reason for that. We did not have the fight in us at the beginning that you need to get started and then you’re playing in an uphill battle the entire game.”

The one bright spot for Indiana (9-13, 3-7) was Verdell Jones. The sophomore guard turned in his best scoring effort yet as a Hoosier with 28 points on 7-of-14 shooting. Jones hit 12-of-13 free throws for his seventh game of 20+ points this season.

“He’s continued to get better. We’ve got to continue to find different ways to get him the ball,” Crean said. “Verdell is certainly getting a lot of things done.”

The Hoosiers had a season-low eight turnovers, but shot just 35 percent from the field and trailed by as many as 20 in the second half.

Up next: Ohio State at Assembly Hall on Wednesday. The 6:30 tip will be shown on the Big Ten Network.

+ Box score

Note: The Minute After will be a bit later than usual as Ryan attended today’s game.

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