Who? Indiana Hoosiers (12-6 (3-4), #36 KenPom) vs Northwestern Wildcats (11-7 (2-5), #59 KenPom)
When? Tuesday, 1/22/19 9:00 P.M., Welsh-Ryan Arena
Vegas? Wildcats -1.5, o/u 135
KenPom? Northwestern by 1, 67-66 (not nice), 52% chance of Wildcat Victory
The last time these two teams matched up in Evanston was two years ago, in January 2017. Tom Crean was still coach for IU, Northwestern was in the midst of its first-ever run to the NCAA Tournament, Welsh-Ryan hadn’t yet been renovated. It was also a pivotal moment in IU basketball online history: The “call out screens” game.
Two years later, the Wildcats have failed to capitalize on their March Madness bid, and are back to their usual place in the bottom half of the conference. When your defining image of the season is your coach Having A Normal One on all fours, you know it hasn’t been a great year.
Meanwhile, IU returns to Northwestern after beating the Wildcats 68-66 in their B1G opener at Assembly Hall. Indiana comes into this one on a 4-game losing streak and its only other conference wins on the season against Illinois and Penn State.
And it’s not going to get much easier tonight.
I am hearing that Indiana guard Devonte Green did not make the trip to Northwestern and will not not play in tonight's Big Ten game. #iubb— Jeff Rabjohns (@JeffRabjohns) January 22, 2019
Devonte Green is OUT for tonight’s game, and the rumor around the internets is he might also be facing a three-game suspension. The Hoosiers are likely to address this soon before tip, but regardless of your feelings on Green’s play this season, this leaves the Hoosiers with one fewer player in the already injury-riddled lineup.
Indiana’s woes on offense will also be tested by Northwestern tonight, whose defense ranks 37th on KenPom this season. Like Indiana, the Wildcats have had trouble scoring the ball though — the 66 they scored at IU has been their highest point total of conference play.
Things to Watch For
- Romeo wherefore art thou? — Romeo Langford had his worst game of the season on Saturday at Purdue, scoring only four points, giving up a few costly turnovers, and missing almost all of the first half after committing two early fouls. If the Hoosiers want any chance at winning this game, they’ll need to get Romeo more involved from the start, and probably will want at least 20 points from him.
- How resilient are these Hoosiers? — They’ve lost the last four games and have Michigan and Michigan State on the horizon. This is as close to a “must-win” game as Indiana has had this season. With Green out, they’ll need to find help wherever they can. And Archie Miller will need to make adjustments on the offensive side of the ball. Right now Indiana ranks 11th of 14 in offense for Big Ten games, averaging only 0.83 PPP in its last two. Justin Smith stepped up in the Purdue game — who will help out tonight?
- Avoiding the sleepy start — other than the Maryland game, IU has been stymied by slow starts to games this season. It would be nice if the Hoosiers weren’t in a double-digit hole to start a game again, and the late weeknight tip in one of the smaller B1G arenas concerns me.
- Medieval Times unis back for Northwestern:
Unfortunately, I can’t predict this Hoosier team to win a game right now with everything that’s transpired over the past couple weeks. Northwestern will attempt to slow the game down, and if Indiana can’t get enough shots up, this one won’t end well. Hope I’m wrong! Northwestern 60, Indiana 55