GAME INFO / HOW TO WATCH:
When? Sunday, January 10th, 1:30 PM, CBS
Vegas? INDIANA -7.5
Pomeroy? INDIANA by 7, 74% chance of Indiana victory
On December 3rd, it was probably fair to assume that most didn't think that this Indiana - Ohio State matchup would be between two unbeaten teams in B1G play. Ohio State was completely on their heels, losers of four straight (including home games to #65 UT Arlington and #111 Louisiana Tech) while Indiana had dropped three of their last five, following neutral court losses to #99 Wake Forest and #91 UNLV with a thorough beatdown at the hands of Duke.
But on December 19th, both teams seemed to take the trajectory of their respective seasons and started reversing it. Ohio State picked up a neutral court win over #21 Kentucky while Indiana dispatched #23 Notre Dame in the Crossroads Classic. Neither team has been beaten since and, while they both have yet to play a team that will factor into the B1G title race, they're two of four undefeated teams in conference play.
HERE WOULD YOU LIKE SOME FACTORS?
|INDIANA (#19 Adj. Offense)||61.8% (2nd)||21.6% (322nd)||39.2% (10th)||37.% (166th)|
|OHIO STATE (#18 Adj. Defense)||43.3% (12th)||18.5% (169th)||27.8% (85th)||27.5% (32nd)|
|INDIANA (#88 Adj. Defense)||48.2% (124th)||20.9% (52nd)||31.9% (237th)||28.0% (36th)|
|OHIO STATE (#133 Adj. Offense)||51.6% (94th)||20.1% (269th)||31.6% (136th)||38.0% (141st)
Personnel-wise, Ohio State typically goes with 6'5" JaQuan Lyle (more on him in a bit), 6'2" Kam Williams (budding destroyer of worlds), 6'7" Marc Loving (the sharpshooter), 6'7" Keita Bates-Diop (dope name), and 6'11" Trevor Thompson (Virginia Tech transfer that was also targeted by Indiana). Behind those guys is 6'10" Daniel Giddens (big-time recruit) and 6'4" FORWARD Jae'Sean Tate who has acted as Thad Matta's Swiss Army knife this season, with his ability to come onto the court for multiple positions and can do a variety of good things, despite his small stature for his position.
Kam Williams looks the part of a terror for opposing defense and, if anything, isn't playing enough. Despite his 129.9 Offensive Rating, low turnover numbers and fantastic eFG%, Williams is playing only 46.7% of the team's available minutes and is second-to-last on the team in possessions used. Granted, he's not much of a facilitator and doesn't turn the ball over, which will limit that statistic to a degree, but it would certainly seem that Thad Matta could benefit from playing Williams more and getting the ball in his hands more often.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH FOR
- Indiana's eFG% (2nd) vs. Ohio State's DeFG% (12th): This is what it's all gonna come down to. Can the stingy Buckeyes' defense muck up Indiana's shooting enough to make the difference? Wisconsin forced plenty of turnovers and pulled Indiana down into their slow-paced rock fight, but ultimately couldn't force enough misses to matter. Assuming Indiana doesn't patch up their turnover issue for Sunday's tilt, can Ohio State get enough misses on their other possessions to make the difference?
- Indiana's OR% (10th) vs. Ohio State's dOR% (85th): It's shaping up to be a war on Indiana's offensive glass, as Ohio State has posted excellent rebounding numbers through the first half of the season. With a defense as proficient as the Buckeyes', Indiana will likely need to cash in a fair amount of second-chance opportunities to claim victory.
- Fastbreak Opportunities: Both teams are horrible at hanging on to the ball, as they both rank close to the bottom (with the Hoosiers closest, of course) when it comes to TO%. There should be some lengthy sequences of sloppy play and the team that can right the ship and score a bucket most frequently when the game devolves into speed skating will likely find themselves victorious.
- JaQuan Lyle (Indiana kid) vs. Indiana: After the multi-year will they / won't they that was JaQuan Lyle's recruitment to Indiana, it should come as no surprise when he walks into Assembly Hall and drops a triple-double on the Hoosiers. Lyle's talent is undeniable, but he's struggled a bit as a freshman for the Buckeyes, with an Offensive Rating of 90.9 despite the highest usage percentage on the team. His assist rate (34.4%) is outstanding, but is tempered significantly by his 25.9% TO%. Regardless, I would expect to see one of Lyle's better outings on Sunday, because time is a flat circle.
Indiana's defensive efficiency ranking currently sits at 88th. While they haven't faced anything close to "efficient offense" since the start of league play, it's worth pointing out that at this point last season they were 201st. There can be no question that their defense has improved, and holding on to a top-100 unit all season would be nothing short of a remarkable one-season turnaround for the team.
Much like with the Wisconsin tilt, Indiana can't afford to lose this game. They were gift-wrapped a very easy start to conference play and while the Buckeyes have improved, they still profile, this season, as the kind of team that shouldn't win in Assembly Hall if Indiana plans to hang around the conference title race.