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Game Preview: Ohio State

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Indiana heads back to Assembly Hall for their conference home opener against the Buckeyes of

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports


Who? Ohio State Buckeyes (13-3, #16 KenPom)  v. Indiana Hoosiers (11-4, #56 KenPom)

When? 12:00 PM, ESPN

Vegas? TBA

Pomeroy? OHIO STATE by 1, 44% chance of Indiana victory


Home at Last

In the final leg of what we considered to be a fairly brutal start to B1G play, the Hoosiers return home for a date with Ohio State, the team many consider to finish second in the league behind Wisconsin. This coming on the heels of road games against Nebraska and Michigan State and it's not hard to see why some said Indiana could conceivably start the league season 0-3 and not be anywhere close to finished. Snagging a win in Lincoln, despite Nebraska maybe not being as good as they were last year, may be huge for the Hoosiers going forward and if they can topple the Buckeyes at home on Saturday, they'll be in great shape.

Any preview of Ohio State should probably begin and focus on their incredible freshman D'Angelo Russell. The 247Sports Composite 5-star has been enjoying a tremendous start to his college campaign. The numbers themselves are eye-popping: 57.1% eFG, 45.8% 3PT, 78.6% FT, 29.2% assist rate, good for an offensive rating of 116.1. Russell is also eating up 29.4% of possessions and 29.3% of available shots when he's on the floor. It'll take a team effort to keep him contained and I'm still not sure that will be enough. Yogi will get his chances but Russell's 6-5 frame could damper his effectiveness. If either James Blackmon Jr. or Robert Johnson wanted to have a coming out game on defense, this Saturday would be a prime time to do it.

It may shock some Hoosier fans to know that this will be one of the few games in which the opposing team actually shoots better than they do, as Ohio State's 58.9% eFG puts them at third in the country, thirteen spots ahead of Indiana. Every Buckeye playing at least 41.2% of available minutes shoots an eFG% of at least 55.3% except for Shannon Scott, who makes for his 47.6% by possessing the 11th best assist rate in the nation. Now that you know those stats, this chart probably won't shock you:


They aren't deadly from the left corner or either elbow, but they're certainly not slouching from any spot on the floor. Thad Matta has a handful of shooters at his disposal and with a trust senior distributor, the offense looks almost completely opposite from last year's unit that struggled to get points on the board. Sam Thompson, for example, led OSU from 3PT range with a 35.3% mark last season, which would put him 5th on this year's squad.

Amir Williams holds down the post and has down decently offensively in incredibly limited chances (120.0 ORtg, 17.1% usage) for the Buckeyes, but has certainly contributed to his own limited chances with a 21.6% turnover rate and rather unassertive play for a 6-11 senior. He's not an imposing defender and could could be considered a "weak link" on a rather young Buckeyes squad but a good game out of him on Saturday wouldn't make him the first big man to enjoy a temporary renaissance against Indiana this season. Williams is backed up by fellow senior Trey McDonald and senior transfer ANTHONY LEE. Hoosier fans should be familiar with Lee, the transfer from Temple elected to head to Columbus instead of Bloomington in the Spring, where he now plays sparingly, getting only 24.2% of available minutes. I would have to imagine he'd be playing quite a bit more with the Hoosiers but that is neither here nor there.


Four Factors
eFG% TO% OR% FT Rate
INDIANA (Offense) 55.5% (16th) 16.8% (37th) 35.4% (58th) 37.0% (175th)
OHIO STATE (Defense) 45.2% (68th) 25.7% (6th) 30.9% (162nd) 25.4% (9th)
eFG% TO% OR% FT Rate
INDIANA (Defense) 47.6% (140th) 16.5% (320th) 33.4% (257th) 26.3% (15th)
OHIO STATE (Offense) 58.9% (3rd) 17.6% (50th) 34.5% (75th) 32.0% (290th)

Indiana's defensive woes continue, as their DeFG% continues to climb and their utter inability to turn their opponent over or prevent an offensive rebound continue to bury their chances to compete defensively. Both teams excel at preventing the other team from getting to the charity stripe while also being rather pedestrian at getting there themselves, so it will be interesting to see if that's reflected with the whistles on Saturday. The B1G, as we know, is a mixed bag from an officiating standpoint.

The Hoosiers will have to hope they left their shooting woes in East Lansing with them, as the team of sharpshooters shot a horrific 28.3% from the floor against Michigan State sending their eFG% to 16th in the country. As we discussed after that game, Indiana simply can't afford to be missing that badly and hope to beat anyone, let alone Michigan State at home. The familiarity of Assembly Hall combined with Ohio State's 100th ranked defense of the 3PT line could combine to be a quick cure for the home team. As difficult as winning is when the shots aren't falling, an Indiana team that catches fire from deep can beat just about anyone in the country.

Three Things to Watch for:

  • A new starting lineup? Tom Crean made no secrets that he was thoroughly disappointed with Hanner Mosquera-Perea after the Michigan State game and referred to this week of practice as a "dogfight" for his starting position. One would assume that Emmitt Holt would be tapped to take Perea's place with the starters should HMP ultimately be benched and it will be interested to see if a switch is made. Perea was far from Indiana's only issue on Monday night, but he certainly seemed to backslide after showing some progress in the past few games.
  • How will the team respond as a whole? There's a lot of ways you can handle getting your jock handed to you and young teams can, at times, struggle to move on to the next game. Thankfully, the Hoosiers had almost an entire business week to get the loss out of their system and refocus on the next tough opponent that the B1G has to offer. Hopefully playing their first game at home will help them relax and slow things down for them, as they looked overwhelmed and prone to rushing things for long stretches against the Spartans. It'll take a top-notch effort to topple the Buckeyes and any lingering thoughts about Monday night's trouncing will only serve to distract them from achieving that.
  • When will Max Hoetzel pull the trigger again? This could just be me, but I feel like I've seen Max shot fake and drive himself out of an open three point shot no less than 400 times in the last handful of games. We don't have a large enough sample size to draw any conclusions but Hoetzel came to IU billed as a shooter, and I'm sure I'm not alone when I want him to show some confidence and let it fly when the shot is open. The shot fake is certainly a fine weapon to get to the rim, but when the close out is late or non-existent: rise and fire, young man.