WATCH THE PICTURE
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
LISTEN TO FISCHER
From our game preview, Jack Grossman says this is what the numbers tell us:
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.
After tonight's contest, the Hoosiers will honor its only senior, Collin Hartman. Hartman, a 6'7" forward out of Cathedral High School in Indianapolis, has missed the entire season after suffering a non-contact knee injury during the offseason. Though he only averaged 5.0 ppg, Hartman was a key contributor on last season's Big Ten Championship team, bringing stability and calm to the table, two characteristics that this year's team has lacked.
There has been much speculation about whether Hartman would take a medical redshirt and return to Bloomington next season. On Thursday, the program announced via Twitter that Hartman would partake in the festivities tonight, and yesterday, Head Coach Tom Crean seemed to soften the potential blow that Hartman forgoing another year would cause.
Tom Crean on whether Collin Hartman will return next year: "He's earned the right to make it his call."— Mike Miller (@MikeMillerHT) February 24, 2017
If Crean was in fact hinting at Hartman's departure, it would be consistent with what sources have told Crimson Quarry.