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No matter how you slice it, the Hoosiers are in a state of peril right now. A three-game win streak including a home win against Michigan State eased fears for a while, but Thursday's beatdown in Ann Arbor resurrected many of the hesitancies about this team.
Defensively, IU was atrocious. The team dropped nearly 40 spots in KenPom's adjusted defense after allowing 90 points on 1.53 points per possession to Michigan. Hell, Indiana themselves had a slightly-above-average 1.02 points per possession and shot 55 percent from the field and 54 percent from the three-point line and lost by 30!
The news got even worse on Saturday when it was announced that James Blackmon Jr. would be out indefinitely with a lower leg injury, taking with him the most potent part of Indiana's offense.
Indiana is going to have little time to regroup as they're going up against another great offense, though not quite to the level of Michigan's, in Northwestern.
HERE WOULD YOU LIKE SOME FACTORS?
|INDIANA (#11 Adj. Offense)||57.7 (6th)||21.2 (310th)||39.4 (6th)||36.6 (142nd)|
|NORTHWESTERN (#40 Adj. Defense)||43.5 (9th)
||31.1 (242nd)||36.6 (198th)
|INDIANA (#154 Adj. Defense)||47.2 (60th)||16.2 (313th)||28.7 (136th)||34.1 (153rd)|
|NORTHWESTERN (#36 Adj. Offense)||51.0 (149th)||16.1 (28th)||33.1 (77th)||30.9 (284th)
The Wildcats play at a bit faster tempo than Michigan but aren't the three-point shooting team that the Wolverines are. However, they don't turn the ball over (not like Indiana could force them to anyway) and knock down free throws when they get to the line.
Offensively is where the Hoosiers will be tested. The Wildcats have a top-40 defense in the nation and hold opponents to just 64.1 points per game. They are top 20 in the country in opponent three-point percentage, two-point percentage and blocked shots.
The issues for Indiana now run much deeper, though. Blackmon's offensive rating of 124.0 is second-best on the team only behind Morgan. His effective field goal percentage and true shooting percentage were both tops on the top and in the top 65 in the country.
Blackmon took 28.4 percent of the shots when he was on the floor, the most on the team. His 307 points produced is most on the team. His usage rate of 25.3 percent is highest on the team. His 2.3 offensive win shares are most on the team. None of this is new information, but it paints the picture of just how much the Hoosiers relied on him.
Without him, the Hoosiers' offense is going to have another makeover. They team did play one game without him earlier this season against Mississippi Valley State, but OG Anunoby was available and active that game. On the road, off a blowout loss and without your top scorer, the Hoosiers are going to have a Mount Everest-sized mountain to climb.
STUFF TO WATCH FOR
- Thomas Bryant filling the void in the offense - With two of the three best players on the Hoosiers roster now sidelined and a freshly opened JBJ-sized hole on the court, the Hoosiers now become Thomas Bryant's team, for better or for worse. His up-and-down sophomore season has been underwhelming at times, but if the Hoosiers are to have success going forward sans JBJ, Bryant is likely going to be the one who carries them.
- Production from CuJo and Devonte Green - While the freshman backcourt duo has been an overall positive on the year, their production has become even more important going forward. The duo will likely be called on to fill the minutes opened up by JBJ's injury and will quickly be thrown into the fire in the middle of conference play.
- Bryant McIntosh vs. Indiana - Indiana kid vs. Indiana is always a storyline worth noting. In McIntosh's case, it could turn very ugly. While the junior guard will get a chance to play at Indiana this season, he comes in as third-leading scorer, but there's always a personal vendetta from kids from Indiana that weren't recruited by Indiana.
- Tournament resume - It seems crazy to think about, but the Hoosies' current tournament resume is built entirely on November wins, a road win over Penn State and a home win over Michigan State. There aren't many winnable road games left on the schedule, but this is one of them. While the JBJ injury shakes up everything, a win against Northwestern before a home game against Penn State could help settle a very rocky ship.