Who? Indiana Hoosiers (12-8 (3-6), #45 KenPom) at Rutger Scarlet Knights (10-9 (3-6), #97 KenPom)
When? Wednesday, 1/30/19 7:00 P.M., Louis Brown Athletic Center
Channel? Big Ten Network
Vegas? Indiana -1.5, o/u 135
KenPom? Indiana by 2, 66-64, 56% chance of IU Victory
If there were ever an opponent to break a six-game losing streak against, it’s Rutger. The Hoosiers are in the midst of their longest losing streak since a nine-game skid in 2011. During this stretch, Indiana has only cracked 1.00 points per possession twice, and have failed to hold opponents under that mark in every game. Simply put, they’re not playing particularly well on either end of the floor. But you already knew that.
It’s not worth re-litigating what’s gone wrong with this team. If you’ve been watching the games, you know that this team is a mess through and through. However, Wednesday provides an opportunity to right the ship. All is not lost for the season. Despite the Sky Is Falling takes that have been prominent around the program in recent weeks, Indiana still currently sits as a 10 seed on Bracket Matrix. It’s certainly not as good of a spot as they were in before the losing streak commenced, but the Hoosiers still have a very good shot at making the NCAA Tournament if they can get right quickly.
So how do they do that against Rutger? Well, it should start on the defensive side of the ball. Rutger comes into the game ranked No. 214 in AdjO on KenPom, and are scoring under 1.00 points per possession in conference play. The Scarlet Knights don’t shoot it well from anywhere on the floor, but they are one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the country by rebounding over 34 percent of their misses. Indiana does a decent job of keeping teams off the offensive glass, but they’ll need all hands on deck to limit second chance on opportunities.
On the offensive end, it’s hard to point out one thing that specifically needs to be fixed. It’s all been bad, and the coaching staff knows that. Opponents have figured out that if you pack the lane and force the Hoosiers to make outside shots, your chance of winning increases exponentially. At this point, the team has lost almost all of its confidence on that end. I mean:
Since the introduction of the 30-second shot clock, no team’s averaged less than four made threes per major-conference game. After tonight, Indiana’s at 4.1. pic.twitter.com/Ttaz1Jmv0D— John Gasaway (@JohnGasaway) January 26, 2019
Rutger has allowed opponents to shoot 35.3 percent from distance this year, and that mark goes up to 37.2 percent in Big Ten games. Even just an average showing from behind the arc would do wonders for the Hoosiers’ confidence on offense.
Here are some other things to watch for:
- I wouldn’t be surprised if Al Durham slides back into the starting lineup. Zach McRoberts clearly isn’t right, and he’s essentially a non-factor on the offensive end. Durham has been one of the few Hoosiers that have shown that they can knock down an outside shot, and his ability to get in the paint might open things up a bit offensively. For a team that’s SOMETHING, switching up the starting lineup might provide a small but necessary boost.
- Sticking with the rotation, tonight would be a good night for Race Thompson to get a little bit of burn. He’s been sidelined for most of the year with a concussion, but dressed last week against Michigan. His presence inside could help spell Juwan Morgan a much needed breather for a couple minutes, and he might be a better option to combat the Scarlet Knights on the glass.
- Let’s also get Damezi Anderson some minutes. If he comes in and can knock down a couple shots, perfect. He’s a guy that could probably benefit from a consistent role, even if that’s just coming in for a couple minutes at a time and seeing if he can get hot. At least he’s not afraid to shoot.
- Romeo needs a get right game as much as anyone. He’s hit the freshman wall, and the last couple of games look like they’ve rattled his confidence. I’d look for Archie to try to get him going early to see if he can get in a rhythm whether it’s pick and roll actions, off ball sets or isolation plays.
- If Indiana loses this one, they’re probably on the outside looking in or looking at a play-in game for the NCAA Tournament. As stated above, there are plenty of opportunities left in the season to build a resume, and a win over Rutger isn’t going to move the needle. But damn this team needs to get a W for its confidence. With a trip to Michigan State looming this weekend, the Hoosiers need to pull this one out by any means necessary.
Optimism has not been common lately, but I think Indiana is going to get it done tonight. I cannot in good faith predict any sort of success for Rutger in any capacity. Let’s go with:
Indiana 68, Rutger 61