The stakes couldn’t be higher.
It is likely win or go home for both Indiana and Ohio State in the Big Ten Tournament. Not just home as in leaving Chicago, home as in home during the NCAA Tournament.
Both teams are squarely on the NCAA bubble with no margin for error, and both teams come into the game headed in completely different directions.
The Hoosiers have come back from the dead, winners of four in a row to close out the regular season.
The Buckeyes have lost three in a row and six of eight. The three game losing streak corresponds to the suspension of OSU forward Kaleb Wesson. He will return for Thursday’s game against IU.
GAME DAY ESSENTIALS
Indiana (17-14, 8-12) vs. Ohio State (18-13, 8-12)
- Tip time: 12:30 p.m. Eastern
- Location: United Center, Chicago, Illinois
- Television: BTN (Brian Anderson and Stephen Bardo)
- Series: Indiana leads 107-84 (Ohio State won the last meeting 55-52 on Feb. 10)
- Point Spread: Indiana is a 2 point favorite.
- Tickets (Seat Geek affiliate link)
Chris Holtmann is in his second season at Ohio State
- Indiana arrives in Chicago healthy and confident
- Indiana’s players discuss the Big Ten Tournament
- Archie Miller discusses the Big Ten Tournament
- Highlights from the first meeting:
“We had a fight when we played them last at our place as they were able to come out on top and made some real key plays late. I thought it was a tough game and that’s what I’m expecting the same thing on Thursday. At the end of the day, for us we just have to prepare, continue to get better, and find a way to keep playing the best we can.” — Archie Miller
TOP OHIO STATE NAMES TO KNOW
Kaleb Wesson – If there was any doubt about the value of Ohio State’s big man, those doubts were erased over the last three games as Wesson served out a suspension. The Buckeyes lost all three games and never held a lead in any of them. The 6-foot-9, 270 pound Wesson leads the Buckeyes in both points (14.6) and rebounds (6.7) per game.
C.J. Jackson – You know him well. The Indiana killer. Jackson has hit critical three-pointers in the final minute of the last two games against the Hoosiers. The Buckeye point guard is second in scoring at 12.1 per game and leads the team in assists per contest at 3.4. Jackson is a strong defender as well. His matchup with Rob Phinisee will be a good one to watch.
Andre Wesson – Kaleb’s older brother hit the game winner in the first meeting. A versatile forward, Wesson can play inside and out and presented a matchup problem for IU in February. He averages 8.5 points and 4.2 rebounds per game.
Luther Muhammad/Duane Washington/Keyshawn Woods – The guard trio have all put up similar numbers this year and can get hot at times. Muhammad is the better defender, Woods the better facilitator. Holtmann will look for who is hitting shots and works best in matchups.
Kyle Young – The Buckeye forward outworked the Hoosiers for several rebounds in the first meeting. He averages 4.7 boards per contest in 21 minutes a game.
TALE OF THE TAPE
See how the Hoosiers and Buckeyes stack up statistically:
KEYS TO VICTORY
Kaleb Wesson vs Justin Smith. This was the key matchup of the first game when IU had the ball. Wesson guarded Smith and left him open, staying back in the paint to cut off driving lanes and double Juwan Morgan. If Smith is in the game the Buckeyes will no doubt attempt to employ the same strategy. Will the Hoosiers attempt to counter with more De’Ron Davis and go right at Wesson and get him in foul trouble?
Indiana needs a hot hand. They don’t need to make 15 three-pointers. They don’t need everyone firing on all cylinders. But IU needs one or two guys to have the hot hand. We’ve seen Devonte Green fill that role recently. Other have shown the ability. If Indiana can shoot above 35% as a team from long range it will go a long way in this one.
Don’t settle for threes. While Indiana needs to knock down their open looks from long range, the offense needs to work inside out. The Hoosiers emphasized getting to the rim against Rutgers and Illinois and it worked to the tune of more than 90 points a game. Ohio State’s defense is better, but the Buckeyes are not a great shot blocking team. The Hoosiers would do well to attack the paint, challenge OSU at the rim, and draw fouls (especially on Kaleb Wesson).
We’ve emphasized the offensive end here. Indiana has averaged more than 90 points in their last two games, but struggled to break 50 several times including against Ohio State. The Hoosier defense should be good enough to win today, but have they truly turned a corner on the other end, and can IU score enough points this time?
Give the Buckeyes a taste of their own medicine. Although Indiana would take their percentage, Ohio State isn’t a great perimeter shooting team. Indiana needs to force the ball out of Kaleb Wesson’s hands and force the Buckeyes into contested three-pointers. An interesting side note, Ohio State has already played two games at the United Center this year. They shot 14-40 from long range in those games.
PREDICTION: Indiana 68 Ohio State 64
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