Record: 16-13 (9-8 in Big Ten)
Tournament Seed: 7
First Round Opponent: #9 Northwestern
Season Summary: After the 2016-2017 season, Indiana parted ways with head coach Tom Crean, who led Indiana to 3 Sweet 16’s in his 9 year tenure down in Bloomington. Archie Miller now takes over at the helm of Hoosier Basketball after spending 6 years at Dayton, leading them to 4 straight NCAA March Madness tournaments and a remarkable Elite 8 run in 2013. This year, however, Miller quickly learned that the Big Ten is much more difficult and competitive than the Atlantic 10. Right now, they stand at 9-8 in conference play, putting them at the number 7 seed for next week. The Hoosiers have had an up and down season to say the least. To start the season, they were by dropped by Indiana State 90-69, who is now 12-17. Just a few weeks later, they came a few possessions from knocking off a top-ranked Duke team in the Big Ten / ACC Challenge. At one point in the season, they have ridden a 4 game losing streak, followed by a 4 game winning streak. At Madison Square Garden, Indiana Basketball fans are sure hoping they see the good side in this two-faced Indiana team.
Players to Watch: Without a doubt, Indiana’s star player is their junior forward, Juwan Morgan. At 6’8, he creates a post presence but also can extend game to the outside. He has scored double digits in the last 10 games and is even averaging 7.3 rebound per game on the year. He is 8th and 9th in total scoring and rebounding respectively in the Big Ten, and also shoots a solid .584 from the field, which puts him at 6th best in the Big Ten. Besides Morgan, the Hoosiers also have two solid guards in their backcourt to compliment the post presence, Robert Johnson and Devonte Green.
X-Factor: To keep it as simple as possible, the X-factor to Indiana’s success in New York next week is the intensity they bring to the game. When playing at home, they boast a 12-5 record. When they play away from Assembly Hall, they are 3-8 this season. This Hoosier team definitely feeds off the crowd. At MSG, especially in the tournament’s earlier stages and day games, there will be small crowds and very little fans fans to feed off of. With that in mind, this Indiana team will need to find another way to keep up their intensity at a quiet MSG.
Verdict: The Hoosiers simply don’t have it in them this season to bring back any hardware to Bloomington. They are out of the picture for a spot in the NCAA tournament (unless they happen to win the Big Ten tournament, of course), so they don’t have too much to play for. I think Coach Miller’s squad will be out by Thursday next week. Give Miller another year at a program like Indiana, this team will undoubtedly be in better position next year when March rolls around.
Thanks for reading our first preview for the Big Ten Tournament. Check back Friday for our Penn State preview, and be sure to check the website all week long to get your fix on all things Big Ten!