Game Info / How to Watch:
Who? Indiana Hoosiers (11-6 (1-3), #28 KenPom) vs. the rutger (11-7 (0-5), #141 KenPom)
When? Sunday, January 15th, 12:00 PM, BTN
Where? Assembly Hall, Bloomington, Indiana
Pomeroy? Indiana by 15, 91% chance of Indiana victory
That line came real close to being the extent of my thoughts on this game. Indiana is 1-3 in the Big Ten, with the loss to Nebraska continuing to haunt them as they failed to pull off wins in more difficult spots (vs. Wisconsin, @ Maryland). In the span of one month, Indiana went from an AP Top-10, favorite to repeat as B1G Champion to playing, ostensibly, for their NCAA Tournament lives the rest of the way. Most of Indiana's losses aren't likely to individually be held against them come Selection Sunday, but if they collect too many more, big November victories over Kansas and North Carolina aren't going to matter.
That kind of month is what creates this cloud of ennui that has descended over the program, and a noon tipoff on an NFL Playoff Sunday against an opponent that most B1G fans fail to recognize the sovereignty of is unlikely to revitalize a fanbase that is (rightfully) preoccupied with just what the hell happened. The attendance / atmosphere is likely to rival that of any number of the paycheck games that Indiana played this season, so if the roster is hoping to be perked up by the crowd and the Scarlet Knights roll in here prepared to take no prisoners, we could have a disaster on our hands.
Here are the three outcomes:
- Indiana rolls ("Would have been nice to do this to the Huskers!" hollers Your Dad.)
- Indiana struggles a little bit ("Good christ almighty this team is so bad we're gonna be smugly turning down the CBI again this year.")
- Indiana literally loses (Tom Crean is taken hostage, the National Guard is called.)
HERE WOULD YOU LIKE SOME FACTORS?
|INDIANA (#8 Adj. Offense)||57.9 (5th)||21.5 (311th)||41.2 (4th)||39.2 (90th)|
|RUTGER (#66 Adj. Defense)||45.0 (24th)
||29.2 (155th)||29.4 (67th)
|INDIANA (#99 Adj. Defense)||45.9 (40th)||15.7 (323rd)||27.3 (83rd)||30.9 (91st)|
|RUTGER (#233 Adj. Offense)||44.8 (321st)||20.0 (244th)||39.4 (9th)||33.2 (231st)
Rutger has improved from last season! Granted, it would be almost impossible for a Power 5 team to be worse but new head coach Steve Pikiell has his squad playing some pretty good defense, an effort that is largely wasted by an offensive unit that, quite simply, can't get the ball into the bucket under just about any circumstances. Of course, no one will be surprised if the team that is currently making 45.6% (287th) of their twos and, my god, 28.3% (338th) of their threes starts pouring it in against the Hoosiers. Indiana has cured what ails several bad shooting teams already this season, what's one more?
The biggest issue for Rutger at present is the regression of Corey Sanders, who has failed to build on a somewhat promising freshman campaign. His shooting has cratered in all three areas, his assist rate is way down and turnovers are up, yet the sophomore leads the team in possessions used and shots taken on a rate-basis while also playing more minutes than anyone else. He's joined in the backcourt by Nigel Johnson, who is hitting 26.6% of his threes but that hasn't stopped him from taking 64 of them, and also makes less than 40% of his twos. He does, however, dish out more assists than turnovers (as does Sanders) and that's something no Indiana player has been able to do (Josh Newkirk and De'Ron Davis are getting close, though).
Deshawn Freeman, like the rest of the team, is a monster on the offensive glass and turns those rebounds into and-1's enough to really screw up someone's day in the post. Thomas Bryant played all of six minutes in Piscataway last year, severely limited by foul trouble, and it'll likely be a focal point of the Scarlet Knights to get Indiana's size in foul trouble. He's joined down low by CJ Gettys, who is second on the team in offensive rating but 5th in possessions used. Backup guard Mike Williams leads the team in offensive rating but is behind Gettys in usage as well. It would appear that the fundamental problem with Rutgers' offense is their best offensive players' touches are going to far more inefficient players. Hopefully they don't figure that out before Sunday.
STUFF TO WATCH FOR
- Use Juwan Morgan More: Juwan Morgan is 8th in the country in offensive rating and that's pretty insane. I've mentioned in the past how catch-and-shoot deadeyes (like Nick Zeisloft) can completely break the statistic because all they do is hit threes at a high rate and never turn it over, so the leaderboard for that stat is often littered with such guys. Juwan, however, has hit 4 of the 16 threes he's taken this year and is often entrusted to initiate the offense several times throughout the game. He does a great job of hitting twos, drawing fouls, and hitting free throws, while also keeping turnovers (relatively) low. While his overalls are likely to suffer somewhat with a minutes increase, it's far too good to ignore.
- Be Ready On The Glass: The only thing Rutger really can do on offense is hit the glass hard, and they're top ten in the country at doing so. Much like when opponents play Indiana, forcing a miss is less than half the battle, as they'll be hunting that rebound hard to give their offense a chance to (based on percentages) miss again. All things being equal, giving up an offensive board to Indiana just gives you another chance to probably force a turnover.
- Get All Lao Tzu Up In Here: The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Indiana has a long road back to getting their tournament résumé in order and it starts on Sunday. Indiana cannot instantly rejoin the Big Ten title race with a win on Sunday or come close to absolving any of the losses to this point, but they have a chance to get some momentum and good vibes heading into that two-game stretch in Madison and against Purdue. It starts on Sunday.