GAME INFO / HOW TO WATCH:
Who? #3/5 Indiana Hoosiers (3-0, #11 KenPom) vs. Fort Wayne (2-2, #132 KenPom)
When? Tuesday, November 22nd, 9pm, BTN
Where? Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, Fort Wayne, Indiana
Vegas? IU -11
Pomeroy? IU by 10, 82% chance to win
BACK ON THE ROAD
The Hoosiers leave Bloomington once again, traveling a few hours north to Fort Wayne as they take on the Mastodons. So far IU’s faced a blue-blood and a couple of cupcakes, but Fort Wayne is something a little different. Certainly not good in any real sense, but while they’e not Kansas (or North Carolina), they’re also definitely not the Liberty Flames.
It’ll be a bit of a different experience for IU’s younger players especially, as it’s a true road game rather than a neutral site matchup. But the reach of Hoosier fandom is long, so honestly, the crowd’s likely to be reasonably pro-IU. Still it’s a trip to a place where the opponent plays, and that’s something closer to what the team may expect in Happy Valley or Evanston than spending all month in the Assembly Hall.
HERE WOULD YOU LIKE SOME FACTORS?
|Indiana (#5 Adj. Offense)||62.0 (7th)||25.0 (326th)||44.7 (9th)||43.1 (94th)|
|Fort Wayne (#192 Adj. Defense)||55.2 (289th)||20.3 (127th)||31.1 (204th)||26.7 (45th)|
|Indiana (#55 Adj. Defense)||44.6 (72nd)||15.4 (305th)||19.8 (21st)||35.7 (166th)|
|Fort Wayne (#98 Adj. Offense)||51.7 (126th)||20.8 (240th)||35.1 (77th)||43.0 (95th)|
IPFW IS DEAD, LONG LIVE FORT WAYNE
Branding is a weird thing. It's even weirder in (supposedly) amateur sports. Evidently not enough people, in Fort Wayne and environs surrounding, knew that IPFW's sporting pursuits represented the city named for Mad Anthony, so this year the school officially rebranded its athletics programs to simply "Fort Wayne," rather than IPFW. And admit it, now you definitely know they play in Fort Wayne.
Last year's Fort Wayne team was reasonably good for where they are – a 24-10 record, finishing second in the Summit League's regular season and losing to San Diego State in the first round of the NIT. They were boatraced by IU at Assembly Hall 90-65 in another of those ten losses. So far this year Fort Wayne has won twice and lost twice, though one of the losses – to Arkansas in Fayetteville – was reasonably close, 92-83. They also have played UMass Lowell, beating them pretty soundly by a score of 94-81.
It is unlikely that Fort Wayne will beat IU, and it's reasonable to expect that the Hoosiers will win safely. But this is an in-state matchup, it's a road game, and North Carolina's lurking only about a week away. There are pieces here that could make this a closer game than most of us would like, if Fort Wayne can put them together. Will they? Probably not. But aside from the Actually Good Teams, this is the toughest non-conference opponent IU will face this year. A comprehensive win here would be a statement not on par with the win in Hawai'i, but a statement nonetheless.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
- TAKE CARE OF THE DANGED BALL: Indiana's the 5th best offensive team in the nation according to Ken Pomeroy, but they're turning the ball over like they're...well, one of our non-conference opponents. We're sub-300th in turnovers, and that's simply not going to cut it if it continues. The Hoosiers have to start taking better care of the ball, and it'd be nice if that started to turn on Tuesday night.
- The crowd: This game is being played in Fort Wayne, in an arena that the Mastodons use and should be used to. In terms of play, it should be away-game-esque. But honestly, who knows what the crowd's going to be like? IU has fans statewide, commensurate with our status as a national power and the most successful program in the state. There are IU fans in Fort Wayne, and it's unlikely there are enough Fort Wayne fans (or, for that matter, IU Haters) to fill the Allen County Coliseum and make this all that hostile an environment for the Hoosiers. But hey, you never know. This is the last real road game until Maryland in January. It'd be nice to hear some pro-Fort Wayne noise, both for the sake of basketball in this fair state and for the learning experience it'd be for some of the younger players.
- JBJ MVP: James Blackmon, Jr. has returned from last year's knee injury with a vengeance, averaging 23 points a game so far this year and shooting over 50% from behind the arc. He's the centerpiece of the offense right now, and that offense is clicking. Fort Wayne's not a particularly good defensive team, and they're particularly dire defending from deep (42.0 adjusted 3PT%, bad enough for 314th nationally per KenPom). Unless he's told to work on something else specifically, you can probably expect the long-range onslaught to continue, along with JBJ's lofty scoring totals in a return to his hometown.