Hillsdale College is probably more famous for being a "Citadel of American Conservatism" than it is for basketball, but they're going to get a chance to show their stuff as an athletics program tonight against Indiana. For those not super politically inclined, you probably haven't ever heard of small liberal arts college located in south central Michigan. Known for its conservative curriculum and alumni, Hillsdale probably isn't going to offer the quality of competition for a Division II school that national championship contender University of Southern Indiana was able to offer.
USI is probably a team capable of toppling a few of the lower D-I teams on our schedule in the early non-conference. Hillsdale will be less up for the challenge. That being said, it didn't stop the Hillsdale Chargers from gunning for an upset of Valparaiso last week. The Chargers led at halftime in that one 34-29 before eventually falling 69-60. To follow that up, Hillsdale took another D-I team to the wire last night against Toledo. It took overtime and a buzzer beater for Toledo to stave off the upset in an 85-84 victory. So as we can see from these two games, Hillsdale won't necessarily shy away from competition.
That being said, Indiana basketball is not Toledo or Valparaiso, neither of whom are expected to factor into the top 100 teams in the nation this year according to Ken Pomeroy's pre-season predictions. However, Hillsdale isn't going to go down without a fight and they're likely to spread their resistance through the entirety of their lineup. Through their two exhibition games the strong suit for the Chargers has been their shooting.
With an average height around 6'5" or so, they'll offer some decent size but will likely stay perimeter oriented. Tim Dezelski, a 6-6 Sr out of Northville, MI, is going to lead the charge against the Hoosiers for Hillsdale. A very good shooter he's averaging 22.5 points in the Chargers first two exhibition games. Last night he shot 8 of 9 from three point land in Hillsdale's bid to upset Toledo. In the first game against Valpo he finished with 16 points while adding 9 rebounds. He's a versatile wing that is willing to get into the paint and bang if necessary.
Sophomore Riley Cooper and senior Brandon Pritzl are two other guys that are likely to fill a lot of the stat sheet for the opposition. Cooper led them in scoring against Valpo with with 22 on 8-19 shooting while racking up 13 rebounds. Pritzl stuffed the stat sheet in several categories in both games. His most notable of the two performances coming against Toledo where he had a line of 14 points, 5 boards and 4 assists.
The thing that stands out most for me in this one is Indiana's need to box out and crash the boards. We know Hillsdale is going to do it at all five positions. That means Indiana needs too as well. I'd like to see a little more defensive rebounding out of Yogi Ferrell as the Hoosiers scored in transition on 85% of his defensive boards last season. That's an absolutely insane number and shows how quick you can start a break when you're able to skip over that outlet pass.
As for the rest of the squad, I'm really hoping to just see a better shooting performance and some more controlled play from the young guys. There were times in the USI game where it looked like street ball out there as everyone was trying to do a lot more than necessary to make easy plays not so easy. I expect most of that to happen tonight. The Hoosiers have a lot more size and talent on their side of the equation and should be rolling by the end of the first half.
I don't think I'd be too upset to not see it happen, just a little annoyed. Crean is going to use this game as an opportunity to play and tinker a little bit and we should all be very cautious of taking too much away from this game. I expect we'll see a lineup again at some point where the guards are Jeremy Hollowell and Troy Williams just to see what the offense can do with that kind of size.
So enjoy the game if you do have Big Ten Digital Network. I'll be listening from the radio. Don't get too high or too low on any certain performance from Indiana tonight. It's going to be a game of experiments. Do watch for Stan Robinson though. He didn't get the chance to play against USI, but was cleared to play the next day in IU's scrimmage where he dropped 20 points in 20 minutes. I've got a feeling he's going to play with something to prove tonight.