Just three days ago, Indiana got to play the game it wanted — a high-paced, high-scoring affair with a willing opponent. On Thursday night, the Hoosiers ran through No. 20 Iowa in the fastest-paced game of the Big Ten season (83 possessions per team) in a 93-86 win.
This afternoon in Assembly Hall, the Hoosiers won’t get that luxury again.
This time, they are slated to play No. 22 Ohio State (22-7, 9-7), a team that boasts the No. 2 defense in the country and hopes to pressure the Hoosiers (16-12, 6-9) into their 13th loss of the season.
“They are tremendous, defensively,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said. “They attack the dribble, they do a great job of getting into the elbows and they’ll come off their man and they can cover a lot of ground. They’re very, very experienced and they use that experience to create havoc.”
Perhaps no single player represents the challenge facing the Hoosiers than Buckeyes senior point guard Aaron Craft, who comes into today’s game with a 4.6 steal percentage — the 14th best individual rank in the country. Craft, who has forced 17 turnovers in six career games against the Hoosiers, has long been regarded as one of the nation’s top defenders. Crean has long called him one of the NCAA’s best players, too.
But Craft isn’t alone in the Buckeyes’ aggressive and experienced defense that ranks No. 1 in the Big Ten in efficiency (0.96 points per possession allowed) and opponents’ turnover percentage (20.8). In fact, junior guard Shannon Scott steals the ball at a higher rate than Craft at 4.7 percent — good for ninth-best in the nation.
And though no other player on the Buckeyes has a steal percentage higher than 1.5 percent, the Hoosiers — who are the worst in the Big Ten at turning the ball over (22.0 percent) — believe the challenge extends far beyond just Scott and Craft.
Tom Crean, Austin Etherington and Devin Davis met with the media on Saturday to preview Sunday’s game at Assembly Hall with No. 22 Ohio State.
Watch their comments in the media players below:
(Photo credit: Rob Leifheit-USA TODAY Sports)
Indiana returns to Branch McCracken Court at Assembly Hall on Sunday afternoon for the second contest in a three-game home stand. The Hoosiers will welcome No. 22 Ohio State, which is coming off a loss at Penn State, to Bloomington. The Buckeyes are 22-7 overall and 9-7 in the Big Ten.
The game will be broadcast on CBS at 4 p.m. ET and on the IU radio network (Sirius 91, XM 91).
Despite its setback on Thursday in State College, Ohio State has been one of the conference’s top teams after a disappointing to start to league play. The Buckeyes went unbeaten in the non-conference, but lost five of its first eight Big Ten games.
A loss to Penn State in Columbus on Jan. 29, however, was backed up by road wins over Wisconsin and Iowa, which got the Buckeyes rolling again. They’re now 6-2 over their last eight games, with the only setbacks in that stretch coming at home against conference-leading Michigan and the loss Thursday at the Bryce Jordan Center.
This won’t go down as one of Thad Matta’s best teams, but it’s still elite defensively and good enough to win in March because of its experienced core of players that includes two seniors in the backcourt.
So what’s on the line for each team on Sunday? Indiana obviously needs any win it can get with just three to go in the regular season and Ohio State is still fighting for a Big Ten tournament bye and NCAA tournament seeding. The stakes certainly aren’t as high as last March when the Buckeyes spoiled senior night in Bloomington, but a late-season CBS game should still produce quite the atmosphere.
Rules are here, for those unfamiliar.
Yogi Ferrell was the pick to click winner for Illinois (game one), Michigan State (game one), Penn State (game one), Wisconsin (game one), Illinois (game two), Michigan, Penn State (game two), Purdue and Wisconsin (game two). Noah Vonleh was the winner for Northwestern (game one), Michigan State (game two), Minnesota , Northwestern (game two). Will Sheehey was the winner for Nebraska and Iowa. The leaders through 15 games are available here.
Pool for Ohio State: All players are eligible to be picked.
Picks are due by 3:45 PM ET on Sunday.
A few reminders:
· State the name of the player (not a nickname) that you’re picking. If you use a nickname for a player, your pick will not be counted. Also, please state who you are picking as the first thing in your comment. We’re tracking hundreds of picks per game. It’s more difficult to keep track of everyone’s pick if it’s not the first thing in your comment.
· Please make sure you are using a valid e-mail address if you are not registered.
· Please make sure you are using the same name each time to pick if you are not registered. We are tracking wins by the name you use to submit your pick. If your name changes on a game-to-game basis, credit for your pick will be given to the name used to submit the pick.
The Big Ten announced its 2014-15 men’s basketball schedule this afternoon.
Indiana will play Michigan State, Maryland, Ohio State, Purdue and Rutgers twice next season.
The Hoosiers will host Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and Penn State for single plays and travel to Illinois, Nebraska, Northwestern and Wisconsin for single plays.
The full 2014-15 Big Ten Basketball schedule is available after the jump.
Indiana’s up-and-down season continued on Thursday night as the Hoosiers knocked off another ranked opponent at Assembly Hall. The latest victim was No. 20 Iowa, which jumped out to an early lead but couldn’t stop IU thereafter in a 93-86 loss.
Here’s a look at five takeaways from the win over the Hawkeyes:
· Sheehey shines in career night: It’s not fair to call this Sheehey’s best overall game ever at Indiana (he told us so himself in the postgame press conference), but offensively, it clearly was. The senior has taken his fair share of criticism this season as he’s navigated a major shift in his role, but last night, Sheehey played with extreme confidence. He moved away from the ball and beat the defense down the court repeatedly, which resulted in a ton of easy looks.
He finished with 30 points, eight more than his previous career-high and hit 11 of his 13 2s. More importantly, on a night where Yogi Ferrell and Noah Vonleh didn’t contribute a ton offensively, Sheehey morphed into the go-to-guy, even if it was for one night only. Afterward, rather than talking much about himself, he gave his teammates the credit.
“I think Yogi threw two or three over-the-top passes, Stan (Robinson) finds me on back cuts all the time,” he said. “I mean, really I was scoring without the ball in my hands and these guys found me. So a night like this really just shows the kind of teammates we have.”
· Bench comes up big: Indiana hasn’t received consistent production from its bench for most of the season, but the Hoosiers had 42 bench points against the Hawkeyes from five different players.
Well before Indiana took the court on Thursday night against Iowa, Tom Crean declared how his team would match up with the No. 20 Hawkeyes on his pre-game radio show appearance.
They were going to run with them, play at Iowa’s desired tempo and go deep into their bench to support their style of play. If there was a time for the Hoosiers’ supporting cast to step up, this would be it.
And that is exactly what they did. In one of the most exciting, up-tempo games in the Big Ten this season, the Hoosiers scored a whopping 93 points behind 42 bench points and 81 from players outside of their two leading scorers (Yogi Ferrell and Noah Vonleh). And in a game where stops were at a premium, it was enough for Indiana (16-12, 6-9) to pull off a 93-86 victory over Iowa (19-9, 8-7) at Assembly Hall.
“Great respect for Iowa,” Crean said. “Really proud of our players and the way they kept taking punches and responding to it. From the beginning of the game, to the second half, it was a game of runs, and we were right in the middle of it. I thought our response, our intent, our resiliency was excellent.”
From the opening tip at 9:10 p.m., both teams exchanged blows. Iowa had a 10-2 lead just 1:49 into the game. By the first media timeout, the two teams had already combined for 27 points.