Game Info / How to Watch:
Who? Northwestern Wildcats (20-8 (9-6) #39 KenPom) vs Indiana Hoosiers (15-13 (5-10) #44 KenPom)
When? Saturday, February 25, 8:00 PM, BTN
Where? Assembly Hall, Bloomington, Indiana
Vegas? INDIANA -4.5
Pomeroy? Indiana by 3, 60% chance of victory
After a pair of tough losses on the road, Indiana will likely be playing for pride on Saturday, as the Hoosiers NCAA tournament hopes have gone by the wayside barring an inexplicable run in the Big Ten Conference tournament, a tournament that Indiana has never won and have never made it past the semifinals under coach Tom Crean. The Hoosiers will attempt to end a five game losing streak and get there first win since a 3 overtime victory over Penn State in Assembly Hall waaaaaayyyyyyyyy back on February 1st. The last time Indiana got a win in regulation was an 82-75 victory over Michigan State on January 21st.
So, with Indiana’s season in a full downward spiral, can the Hoosiers help play spoiler to a Northwestern team that is likely to earn its first NCAA tournament bid. The Wildcats have played tight of late, perhaps facing the expected late season jitters of trying to change the corse of almost 80 years of basketball mediocrity. Northwestern has looked extremely tight in its last two games struggling to beat lowly Rutger 69-65 at home last Saturday before being outplayed by inferior Illinois in a 65-50 defeat in Champaign on Tuesday night.
The Hoosiers will also will try to avenge a 68-55 loss to Northwestern in Evanston on January 29th. That was a game that Indiana, outside of a 10-1 start and a strong 23 point, 12 rebound performance from Thomas Bryant, was throughly outplayed in.
HERE WOULD YOU LIKE SOME FACTORS?
|INDIANA (#29 adj. offense)||55.3 (25th)||21.5 (322nd)||37.6 (11th)||35.1 (191st)|
|NORTHWESTERN (#33 adj. defense)||44.9 (13th)||18.0 (213th)||30.9 (247th)||36.6 (200th)|
|INDIANA (#105 adj. defense)||47.6 (54th)||16.2 (311th)||28.5 (141st)||37.6 (224th)|
|NORTHWESTERN (#59 adj. offense)||49.2 (226th)||15.6 (14th)||31.0 (114th)||31.4 (284th)|
The Indiana offenses of the past few years have vanished late in this season, as the Hoosiers have struggled to score consistently since the win over Michigan State. Even though the Hoosiers sit with an effective field goal percent of 55.3, which is good for 25th in the nation over the course of the season, it is a number that has been highly inflated by Indiana’s weak non conference schedule. A more realistic representation of the Hoosier offense comes in its effective field goal percent since the start of conference play, which is 52.7. That number could drop even lower after Saturday’s game as Northwestern’s defense has produced the 13th best effective field goal percentage in the nation at 44.9 and have been almost as good in Big Ten play with a eFG% of 46.3, which is the best in the conference.
Where Indiana needs to find success against the stingy Wildcat defense is on the offensive glass. The Hoosiers are the 11th best offensive rebounding team in the country, grabbing 37.6 of their misses. Meanwhile, Northwestern is 247th in the nation in that stat, giving up a 30.9 offensive rebound percentage. The Wildcats have been even worse in conference play, letting opponents grab 31.8 percent of their missed shots, which is just 10th in the league.
A tilting point could be turnover percentage. As it has been well documented, the Hoosiers are just absolutely awful at taking care of the basketball. Indiana sits at 322nd in the nation in turnover percentage, giving the ball away on over a fifth of their possessions, which is dead last in the Big Ten. Northwestern is one of the most disciplined teams in the country when it comes to taking care of the ball, only turning the ball over on 15.6 of their possessions, which is the 14th best mark in college basketball.
One other note: Indiana's free throw rate on the defensive side of the ball has been bad all year, a prime example being Indiana's last game at Iowa on Tuesday night when the Hawkeyes made 39 of 47!!!! free throws. On the year, Indiana's free throw rate is 37.6, which is 224th in the nation. However, in conference play, that number has spiked up all the way to 46.3, which is dead last in the Big Ten (hey someone's got to be last right?). Northwestern may not be able to make the Hoosiers pay the same way the Hawkeyes did on Tuesday night, but we will likely see a lot of the "big heads" come Saturday night.
STUFF TO WATCH FOR:
- Indiana’s energy: By falling out of NCAA tournament at-large contention, how motivated will the Hoosiers play against Northwestern? Will Indiana throw in the towel and get blown out of its own building or will the Hoosiers show a sense of pride and try to battle to get a long awaited win.
- Thomas Bryant: The Hoosier big man had an impressive performance in Evanston, posting 23 points and 12 rebounds. To have similar success against Northwestern on Saturday, Bryant will have to work out of the post, instead of floating around the perimeter, where he is not nearly as big of a scoring threat.
- Bryant McIntosh returns to Indiana: How the in-state kid that was ignored by the in-state flagship school preforms is always an interesting storyline, with no exception with McIntosh, who is a Greenville, Ind. native. McIntosh struggled mightily in his first trip to Bloomington last season, noting that he got caught up with his emotions of playing in Assembly Hall after scoring just 4 points on 2-12 shooting last season. McIntosh faired much better against Indiana in the first meeting this season as he torched the Hoosiers for 21 points.
- Collin Day: Indiana senior Collin Hartman will be honored for senior day after the game. Hartman was a projected starter before the season but suffered a season ending knee injury during the preseason.