It's senior night in Assembly Hall and this game means more than anything so far this season. It's not a win or go home game, but the loser is likely completely off (or has no chance of getting on) the bubble. In the infamous words of Walter Sobchak, "Dude, this is a league game, this determines who enters the next round robin. Am I wrong?". Hopefully that means that Nebraska will be entering a world of pain as the Hoosiers and especially Will Sheehey feel the need to run the Huskers out of their gym on senior night.
After going up 16 in Nebraska, only to lose the game with sloppy play in the second half, the Hoosiers have some revenge to exact. This aggression will not stand and I expect Sheehey to be the ring leader of a furious barrage of dunks tonight. As you all well know, Nebraska is sitting ahead of IU and has the benefit of already being a bubble team. Indiana has to win to remove Nebraska from the bubble and replace them with themselves.
Public enemy #1 for the Hoosiers will be Terran Petteway. Petteway poured in a fantastically efficient 18 points for the Huskers in Lincoln to complete their comeback and will be looking to do more of the same tonight. Along with Petteway is a Nebraska squad that has figured out how to play without the dismissed Deverell Biggs, who was only a recently new non-roster member the first time these teams squared off.
To fill Biggs' shoes, Benny Parker is getting a lot more time. Listed at 5-9, I doubt even that of him. Watching the Purdue-Nebraska game from a week ago, Ronnie Johnson towered over Parker and Johnson (and Ferrell) are a very generously listed 6'. With Parker mostly running the point, Nebraska will suffer with some size issues. They make up for that occasionally by substituting Tai Webster for Parker, but over the last 5 games Parker has been getting the lions share at point. That means between Parker and 6-2 Ray Gallegos there can be some advantages to exploit.
What will be interesting to see tonight is if the Hoosiers can get Noah Vonleh onto the court. Battling with foot inflammation he's been day to day since missing the game on Sunday. Matching him up with 6-10 Walter Pitchford will be key. Vonleh has the offensive skills to take it at Pitchford early and often. In turn, Pitchford will be forced to play timid. He's the only man on their roster above 6-8 and early foul trouble could spell doom with an offensive big man like Vonleh.
In January, Sheehey and Yogi were the biggest contributors however. Noah was plagued with the turnover bug and the two veterans were forced to try and carry the team. Unfortunately, their 26 combined points weren't enough. Stan Robinson also got a lot of play in Lincoln, scoring a then career high 12 points. It wasn't exactly an efficient 12 points because of 3 turnovers, but controlling that could mean a big game for the freshman tonight.
In the end, I think we should expect a win as a fan base. Indiana will be playing with their backs against the wall from here on out and losing a game like this takes Indiana's tourney chances from 10% to 0%. With all the cards on the table, Indiana has to play a strong hand. Hopefully we can send our Indiana seniors off with a big win.