On Tuesday, Indiana played North Carolina and won its biggest game of the season so far. Now, the Hoosiers head to the other end of the spectrum when they host Coppin State. This one is going to be ugly, folks. Coppin State is 1-5 and ranks #321 in the Pomeroy ratings. They lost badly to middling major programs Texas and USC, and their only win is against Division II Cheyney. They have been a respectable program in their conference, and appeared in the NCAA Tournament as recently as 2008, but on a national scale they are just not a formidable challenge for the Hoosiers. Their coach, Ron "Fang" Mitchell, has been at Coppin for over a quarter century, and has led the Eagles to all four of their NCAA appearances. In 1995, the Eagles upset #2 seed South Carolina in the first round and lost to Texas by 1 in the second round. The only previous meeting between IU and Coppin State was in 2007-08, Kelvin Sampson's last year at IU. Despite arriving in Bloomington only five hours before the game because they had played, of all teams, Tom Crean's final Marquette team the night before, Coppin trailed only 28-26 at halftime but owned the second half.
The Eagles like to run. They rank #11 in the nation at 72.8 possessions per game. And despite such a quick pace they take reasonably good care of the ball, turning the ball over only 18.6 percent of the time. Unfortunately, what Coppin State does with the ball when they have it is the problem. The Eagles shoot horribly. Coppin is #344 of 347 in effective field goal percentage. They shoot 23 percent from three point range and 38 percent from two point range. They are an undersized team and have nearly 17 percent of their shot attempts blocked. On defense, Coppin is among the nation's leaders in turnover percentage. Their opponents cough it up 27 percent of the time and Coppin steals the ball on 14.5 percent of possessions. If a team can withstand that, however, Coppin allows opponents to shoot 41 percent from three point range and 48 percent from two point range.
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The Eagles' leading scorer, Patrick Cole, is a 6-5 freshman, so he merits watching. He's a good three point shooter, really the only one the Eagles have. Also, Michael Murray averages 10 boards per game despite being only 6-5.
The Hoosiers are now in a bit of a lull after playing four games, three against major competition, in nine days. After this Saturday's game, the Hoosiers will not play again until they face Central Connecticut State on December 8, and then will have another week before their next game against Butler on December 15. The Eagles would appear to be overmatched, but hopefully this will be an injury-free game that allows plenty of time for Jeremy Hollowell, Austin Etherington, and Maurice Creek to get some work in.