GAME INFO / HOW TO WATCH:
Who? Indiana Hoosiers (23-6 (13-3), #15 KenPom) vs. Iowa Hawkeyes (20-8 (11-5), #14 KenPom)
When? Tuesday, March 1st, 9:00 PM, ESPN
Vegas? IOWA -4
Pomeroy? IOWA by 4, 34% chance of Indiana victory
THE INDIANA HOOSIERS ARE BIG TEN CHAMPIONS
And if this squad can find a victory in either of their final two games, they won't have to share it with anyone. Let those who seek to detract from this program's accomplishments be the miserable lot that they are, for the Hoosiers are champions and they are not (yet). Following a non-conference season that saw two inexplicable defeats to Wake Forest and UNLV out in Maui followed with a thorough undressing on national television in Cameron Indoor Stadium, there was not one person picking Indiana to compete for a Big Ten title. The narrative in place now, of course, is to say that Indiana would always be a contender in the Big Ten race because of "that schedule" but unless that's a writer for Crimson Quarry dot com, they are a liar. We tried to warn y'all Indiana would be a factor in the race because of the favorable schedule, and no one cared until it became a necessary component of their ability to justify Indiana's fraudulent title.
There's also a very good chance these grumbles are coming from fans of teams who were beaten by the Hoosiers this season. Interesting, that.
If Indiana can see how the end of this schedule with two wins, they will be deserving champions. If they split the two tilts with fellow conference title seekers, they will also be deserving champions. Should they falter and drop both contests, they will remain deserving champions because they finished the year with thirteen Big Ten wins and won the conference.
But enough (for now) about Indiana's 22nd Big Ten Championship, let's talk about Iowa. The Hawkeyes have transformed from a team that looked like it would run away with the title early to one of a remarkably large crowd of teams trying to get a share. Iowa enjoys the luxury (along with Maryland) of having some extra control over the race, as they are the teams that can team up and deliver Indiana the two requisite losses needed to open up the title for a share. Indiana could have a share of the conference title and still be forced to play a Thursday game as the 5th seed in the Big Ten Tournament, any victory in their next two games eliminates that possibility.
HERE, WOULD YOU LIKE SOME FACTORS?
|INDIANA (#7 Adj. Offense)||58.8% (2nd)||19.9% (279th)||37.8% (13th)||32.6% (280th)|
|IOWA (#42 Adj. Defense)||47.0% (55th)||18.9% (128th)||31.7% (266th)||25.6% (10th)|
|INDIANA (#67 Adj. Defense)||49.7% (162nd)||19.1% (118th)||28.0% (90th)||29.4% (42nd)|
|IOWA (#16 Adj. Offense)||52.2% (75th)||14.8% (9th)||32.4% (136th)||34.4% (234th)|
Iowa was the #2 team in KenPom's rankings when they came into Assembly Hall with a 10-1 mark in the conference and looking primed for a #1 seed in the Big Dance. They've managed only one victory in the five games since arriving in Bloomington, a 4-point home win over Minnesota, and suffered losses to Penn State on the road (it happens to the best of us), Wisconsin at home (it almost happens to the best of us) and on the road to Ohio State (it happened to the Michigans of us).
Make no mistake, Iowa has been scuffling but they remain a very good team and with their backs against the wall on Senior Night, so Indiana can expect their very best shot. The Hawkeyes start four seniors who aren't likely to roll over for the Hoosiers to waltz to an outright title that they can still stake a claim to on the night they'll be honored in front of thousands of their biggest fans.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH FOR
- Robert Johnson's ankle vs. independent healing variables that vary from person to person: RoJo was reduced to a sharply dressed spectator in a walking boot against Illinois and we're left to wonder whether he could have suited up in a more do-or-die situation or if he would have off the floor regardless. As usual, we know very little about his injury and / or his recovery, but getting him back in the starting lineup would be huge boost for Indiana's outright title chances. Ankles are a notoriously fickle thing to have injured, but it has been over a week since his initial injury and if he is unable to go against Iowa, I would be very surprised if he's not ready for the regular season finale against Maryland.
- The whole dang team vs. Jared Uthoff: Uthoff poured in 24 points in the first meeting, but had to take 20 shots in order to do it. Forcing another inefficient performance out of the B1G Player of the Year candidate is likely a must-do for Indiana to stay in this game on the road. Guys like Uthoff are hard to shut down, and it typically takes a collective effort. Indiana has film to fall back on, thankfully, as they prep for the assignment, but execution is its own monster.
- Thomas Bryant vs. Adam Woodbury: Bryant only made a cameo in this matchup in the first game, with only 14 minutes on the floor thanks to foul trouble. He was a monster when he managed to appear on the court, chipping in 10 points (4-6 shooting), 7 rebounds (5 offensive) and 2 assists. If he can keep a similar pace in a similar minutes load, Indiana will be in great shape.
- Someone guard Peter Jok, too. He's really good. Also Mike Gesell can dunk. Do not get dunked on by Mike Gesell.