Stuff You Need To Know
WHO? Nebraska (14-12, 6-7) at #21/22 Indiana (20-6, 10-3)
WHERE? Assembly Hall, Bloomington, Indiana
WHEN? 8:30 pm, Wednesday
WATCH? Big Ten Network
KENPOM? Indiana by 11, with an 85% chance of victory
TRAP GAME ALERT! TRAP GAME ALERT!
There is no better example of a trap game than the game against Nebraska, which is sandwiched between Sunday's game against Michigan State and, more importantly, just before the big rivalry game against Purdue on Saturday.
The best thing to happen to avoid this trap game is the beatdown the Hoosiers took in East Lansing over the weekend. No longer will the team be potentially overlooking the Huskers after riding high off a pair of wins over ranked teams.
Instead, IU will be looking for a bounce-back win prior to the Purdue game while looking to build some momentum on the way.
Nebraska is about as inconsistent as a team you can find, having dropped four of their last six games after starting the Big Ten season 4-3. In their defense, those four most recent losses have come against Michigan, Purdue, Maryland and Wisconsin, but the Huskers were competitive in many of those games.
HOW ABOUT SOME FACTORS?
|INDIANA (#14 Adj. Offense)||58.7% (2nd)||20.3% (292nd)||38.5% (10th)||33.3% (258th)|
|NEBRASKA (#138 Adj. Defense)||51.3% (111th)||17.9% (148th)||32.8% (73rd)||33.3% (258th)|
|INDIANA (#63 Adj. Defense)||49.1% (138th)||19.1% (129th)||29.2% (135th)||30.3% (52nd)|
|NEBRASKA (#61 Adj. Offense)||49.3% (150th)||19.6% (94th)||27.2% (64th)||40.1% (243rd)
Indiana's win over Iowa vaulted them into Kenpom's top 20, and the loss at Michigan State dropped them down to 21st. However, that still remains the highest IU has been since their early-season meltdown.
Defensively, the Hoosiers have fallen out of the top 50, first staying inside the 60 after the Iowa game before taking another big drop following the Michigan State game.
At the end of the day, this all means that IU is still good. And comparatively, Nebraska is not. This will be one of the last "gimme" wins for the Hoosiers. Indiana absolutely can not drop a game like this now if they hope to maintain a chance at a Big Ten title.
The two pieces of good news heading into this game: Indiana has not dropped a game at home this season. In fact, one of the more impressive stats in the country is that the men's team (14-0) and the women's team (12-0) are both undefeated at home this season. Hall of Calls, amirite?!?
The other positive takeaway heading into Wednesday's game is that Indiana, along with Iowa, control their own destiny in the Big Ten title race going forward. Obviously, after the game on March 1 in Iowa, that won't be the case anymore, but regardless, if the Hoosiers win out, they're outright Big Ten champions.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
Indiana's bench vs. Nebraska's bench
One of the big takeaways from the last two games for the Hoosiers is that Indiana has both great depth and great production off the bench this year. Against Iowa, they outscored the Hawkeyes 28-0 in points off the bench. Against Michigan State, the Hoosiers outscored them 24-12. That's a 42-12 advantage against two of the elite teams in the country.
This match-up is not only important for the Huskers' game, but going forward as well. Not many college teams in America possess as much depth off the bench that the Hoosiers do. Guys like OG Anunoby and Juwan Morgan fill great roles off the bench. Players like Max Bielfeldt and Nick Zeisloft would be starters are hundreds of teams across the country. And none of them started in Indiana's biggest game against Iowa.
As the season wears down, the minutes will start to take a toll on starters (that already looks to be the case with Yogi). Having a bench you can rely on and can be big factors in big games in pivotal moments.
Bad Troy Williams vs. Good Troy Williams
No player has taken more abuse via social media on this year's Hoosier team than Troy Williams, peaking on Sunday in the loss against Michigan State where he 0 points, missing all five shots.
It's been written ad nauseam about how vital Troy Williams is to the Hoosiers' potential success in March. When he's playing well like he did much of the Iowa game, he makes Indiana that much better, taking them up another level among the best teams in America.
However, more often than not, he follows up a performance like Thursday with one like Sunday. We probably won't (or shouldn't) need Good Troy Williams against Nebraska, but getting him back on track in these two home games on Wednesday and Saturday could be vital as Indiana moves into the Big Ten tournament and the NCAA tournament.
Also remember before you tweet your criticisms at him next time, he's a 22-year old kid playing on a national stage in on one of the more pressure-packed programs in America.
Thomas Bryant vs. foul trouble
Thursday's game against Iowa proved two things about Thomas Bryant: he's really, really good and he has some really, really bad luck. He was on the wrong end of a couple ticky-tack fouls that forced him to the bench in a game where he looked like the best player on the court at times.
In the first match-up against Nebraska, Bryant stayed out of foul trouble and poured in 19 points on 8-of-10 shooting. It's critical for Bryant to stay out of foul trouble going forward as he gives Indiana another dynamic offensively and makes them all the more dangerous.
Even with the depth Indiana has in the front court in Bielfeldt and Anunoby, none of them bring to the table what Bryant does.