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Game Preview: #20 Iowa at Indiana

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Can the Hoosiers capitalize on their big win over the weekend?

NCAA Basketball: Indiana at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

WHO: Indiana Hoosiers (13-9 (4-7). #45 Kenpom) vs. Iowa Hawkeyes (17-5 (6-5) #24 Kenpom)

WHEN: Thursday, 2/7/19, 9:00 ET, Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, Bloomington, IN

TV: ESPN

ODDS: Indiana -1.5, o/u 147

KENPOM: 75-74, Indiana

Last Saturday night, Indiana came away with a seemingly improbable victory on the road against Michigan State. This win snapped a 7-game losing streak, and was only the 2nd victory that the Hoosiers have posted at the Breslin Center since 1991.

Tonight, they get a chance to build on that momentum, and crawl their way back to a potential NCAA Tournament bid. But their opponent won’t make things easy.

A Thursday 9pm start

In my opinion, there’s no better time to have an Assembly Hall home game than Thursday at 9. It’s basically the weekend for most students. The late start time gives fans plenty of time to get ready on a night of the week that’s already a big party night in Bloomington. And the Hoosiers could use a raucous home atmosphere right now.

In the past 35 days, Indiana has had exactly two (2) home games. Six of the past eight have been on the road, thanks to the always-quirky B1G schedule. But now with the season winding down, Indiana gets six of their last nine in B-Town, including three of their next four. The opportunity to perform in front of the home fans is there — they’ll just have to put together better appearances than their last two home games.

Iowa Stubborn

You kind of know what you’re getting with a Fran McCaffery Iowa team at this point. His teams like to shoot and play at a relatively fast clip (65th in adjusted tempo), leading to a good offense but an unreliable defense. But when the defense is on point, teams need to watch out — last Friday the Hawkeyes took advantage of a Michigan team that has struggled at times to put points up.

The Hawkeyes are led by big men Tyler Cook and Luca Garza, along with a few streaky shooters in Jordan Bohannon, Joe Wieskamp, and Isaiah Moss.

The coach’s son plays backup point guard to Bohannon.

Things to Watch For

  • The De’Ron and Devonte Show: the two veteran Hoosiers played great games in Green’s first game back from suspension, and De’Ron Davis took charge once Juwan Morgan went out with an injury. Morgan should be back tonight, but these two guys sparked IU off the bench on Saturday, and for a team with an otherwise thin bench, their contributions could be huge.
  • Can the defense step it up? Other than the Rutgers loss, Indiana has given up over 1 PPP on defense in each of its last 8 games. That won’t work against the #11 offense in the nation!
  • How much will ESPN discuss Duke on the broadcast? Watching college hoops games on ESPN is a double-edged sword. ESPN is everywhere, their production values are generally sound, but... we get it already guys, Duke is really good and so is Zion Williamson. And with Duke rematching UVA this weekend, this will give ESPN carte blanche to discuss the Blue Devils even more. Also, you-know-who is on the call tonight.

Prediction

Indiana-Iowa games are almost always a good time. There was the 2014 game where Will Sheehey dropped 30. In 2016, Yogi hit the game-winner in Carver-Hawkeye to clinch the conference title. 2017 was an overtime heartbreaker in Iowa City. And last year the Hoosiers won by 2 in game in which Robert Johnson scored 29.

I’m reluctant to pick IU to win, but I’m also a fan and they know they need this one. So sure, why not, let’s go with the Hoosiers. Indiana 81, Iowa 77