But until the ACC/B1G challenge against UNC on November 30, the Hoosiers face opposition that should not give them too much trouble. Wednesday night's opponent, however, should at least be feisty.
HERE WOULD YOU LIKE SOME FACTORS?
|INDIANA (#6 Adj. Offense)||54.2% (87th)||20.4% (202nd)||40% (48th)||50.7% (61st)|
|UMASS LOWELL (#290 Adj. Defense)||43.8% (77th)||24.9% (32nd)||45.1% (305th)||55.4% (273rd)|
|INDIANA (#50 Adj. Defense)||48.6% (147th)||12.5% (300th)||27.3% (116th)||53.5% (267th)|
|UMASS LOWELL (#235 Adj. Offense)||50.0% (137th)||27.9% (314th)||27.3% (205th)||70.2% (10th)|
Lowell and the low-major program struggle
UMass Lowell is only in its fourth season as a Division 1 athletics program. Under head coach Pat Duquette, the team has mostly struggled, but has been able to get to around .500 in the America East each season. The River Hawks are 1-1, and while they lost to UMass-Amherst, they did beat Wagner, who opened their season with a win over UConn.
I live in Massachusetts, and honestly I was not aware that Umass-Lowell had a D-1 basketball team until recently. This is the struggle that any smaller D-1 college team in the state faces, but especially one that is about an hour removed from the Boston metro area. This university is the only one in the state in the America East conference, and is much more of a commuter school than the flagship state university in Amherst is. In addition, much like other schools in the Bay State, the hockey team at Lowell has had more recent success and takes up attention in the winter months. As a result, it's tough to draw attention and fans to a team like Lowell, but the River Hawks at least play a fun style of ball.
Last season, the River Hawks jumped from 188th in adjusted tempo to 11th nationally. And while two games is a small sample size, the River Hawks already rank third nationally in tempo this season. So, they'll want to run it. This uptempo style should play into the Hoosiers' hands well - Indiana was perfectly fine with playing an uptempo game against Kansas on Friday night. And with this style also comes turnovers, so don't be surprised if this early-season game is a sloppy one for both teams. In addition, Lowell's best player is Jahad Thomas, who doesn't shoot a lot of outside shots but can seem tough to stop at times, so he will be a force for the Hoosier defense to stop. Finally, this opponent should give IU a good chance to work on creating turnovers as well.
What to watch for
- Letdown and jetlag - This will be the Hoosiers' first game since playing five time zones away in Honolulu. That game was an emotional overtime victory over a top-3 team. The Hoosiers should be able to overcome a slow start in this one, but this early in the season, it's not worth taking anything for granted either.
- Rotations rotations rotations - Tom Crean dug deep into the bench on Friday night, and I'd imagine he will do even more so in this game. I would imagine that Freddie McSwain, De'Ron Davis, and Devonte Green, among others, will get more playing time in this one. Against Kansas, Crean opened with a three-guard starting lineup that included Josh Newkirk, Robert Johnson, and James Blackmon; I'm curious if he continues that look this time.
- Foul trouble - Every year in college hoops, the referees always seem more liberal about calling fouls early on in the season than they are by the end. With what is likely to be an up-tempo game, the Hoosiers need to make sure they stay out of foul trouble early. Crean brought in Thomas Bryant back to the game in the first half with two fouls on Friday, and while it ended up paying off, this strategy is always a gamble.