Watch the Picture
Who? Indiana Hoosiers (14-8 (4-5), #39 KenPom) vs. Penn State (12-10 (4-5), #93 KenPom)
When? Wednesday, February 1st, 6:30 PM, BTN
Where? Assembly Hall, Bloomington, Indiana
Vegas? Indiana -6
Pomeroy? Indiana by 9, 81% chance of Indiana victory
Listen to Fischer
How the times have changed...
From Kyle Swick's game preview:
When these two met a couple of weeks ago, Indiana was 26th on KenPom and sporting the 85th best defense in the country. Indiana has fallen 13 spots overal and the defense now sits at 140 in just the three games since, mostly thanks to surrendering 90 points in 59 possessions in Ann Arbor last week. Since their warm-ups against the Nittany Lions, the Hoosiers have lost OG Anunoby for the season and James Blackmon Jr. for the time being. These losses have appeared to become too much to overcome, as the loss of Anunoby finishes off an already struggling defense, forcing the team to get 25 points from JBJ in order to win, and it's hard for him to score when he's in sweats on the bench.
Penn State lost two games you would expect them to lose, looking rather non-competitive in a 25-point loss at Purdue but hung tough for 20 minutes up in Madison before losing by 27 to Wisconsin. They've fallen 11 spots in KenPom but remain roughly the same team they were in the first meeting. With Indiana reeling and their tournament hopes hanging by the thinnest of threads (some bracketologists now placing them outside the field, most others with a double-digit seed), they have to, at an absolute minimum, win all their remaining home games and catch a break or two on the road.
What to Watch
Also from the preview:
- Who replaces Jimmy Buckets' production? Assuming JBJ misses this game, who can step up in his place to replace all that scoring? They needed all 17 of his points to squeak past the Nittany Lions in Happy Valley and the offense (outside Thomas Bryant) looked dead in the water without him in Evanston. Penn State's defense is no joke, and if someone else can't step up and pour in points, Indiana could be in deep trouble on their own floor.
- The Thomas Bryant Renaissance? The sophomore big man enjoyed his finest game in an Indiana uniform in the loss to Northwestern, scoring 23 points in a bunch of different ways, while also pulling down 12 boards, dishing 2 assists, with a couple of blocks and a steal to boot. If Indiana is to have any success moving forward, it likely doesn't happen without Bryant going ham. We know he has the potential, but actualization is another story. Defending him will become a point of emphasis for as long as Blackmon is out, and he'll have to make smart decisions against the coming double-teams while still playing within himself.
- The Creeping Ennui of a Season Almost Gone: We'll probably talk about what could have been this year for awhile. Who knows what would have happened with a fully-healthy Collin Hartman, OG Anunoby, James Blackmon Jr., and Juwan Morgan (who remains clearly not himself despite playing against Northwestern) for the balance of the season? Maybe we can be like Purdue fans and bring it up every time a good player suffers an injury for at least a decade.