Photo by Mike Schumann / The Daily Hoosier

Top 5 Big Ten matchups on the Hoosiers’ schedule

The grit and grind of the physical Big Ten resumes on Sunday when the Hoosiers face the Penn State Nittany Lions.

The Big Ten schedule offers plenty of opportunities for Indiana to pick up quadrant 1 and 2 wins. The quality of wins and losses are measured based on the location of the game and the opponent’s NET ranking. They are ranked as followed:

  • Quadrant 1: Home 1-30, Neutral 1-50, Away 1-75
  • Quadrant 2: Home 31-75, Neutral 51-100, Away 76-135
  • Quadrant 3: Home 76-160, Neutral 101-200, Away 135-240
  • Quadrant 4: Home 161-353, Neutral 201-353, Away 241-353

The more major wins that the Hoosiers pick up, the likelier chance they have to make the NCAA Tournament. Here are five Big Ten matchups that will show what kind of team the Hoosiers are.

January 23 vs Michigan (Assembly Hall)

The Wolverines started the season ranked the No. 6 team nationally. However, after losses to Seton Hall, Arizona and North Carolina, Juwan Howard and Co. have gotten off to a shocking 7-5 record.

Despite the struggles, Michigan still has a loaded roster. Seven-footer Hunter Dickinson leads the team with 15.6 points per game and 9.1 rebounds. Last season, Dickinson gave Trayce Jackson-Davis fits and held him to just 10 points while adding 13 points and 7 rebounds for the Wolverines in their 73-57 win.

Behind Dickinson, Eli Brooks is the secondary scorer and playmaker of the team. He averages 12.6 points and 2.6 assists per game. Both are second-highest on the team. The Wolverines also have two former five-star recruits in freshmen Caleb Houstan (10.1 PPG; 4.3 RPG) and Moussa Diabate (7.6 PPG; 5.6 RPG).

With many new faces the Wolverines have gotten off to a slow start, but if they get hot, this would be a solid win for the Hoosiers.

February 14 vs No. 24 Wisconsin (Assembly Hall)

It’s a revenge game for the Hoosiers. After blowing a 17-point halftime lead and remaining winless at the Kohl Center since 1998, Indiana will have another shot at taking down Wisconsin. This time they will have their home crowd backing them up.

Last game, the Hoosiers could not stop the explosive Johnny Davis. He ended the game with 23 points and shot 8-of-17 from the field while making many crucial plays down the stretch. Mike Woodson will need to figure a game plan to contain him this time.

After the hot start, Indiana shot 7-of-31 from the field for 22.6 percent, and 0-for-5 from downtown in the second half. They also had trouble scoring the ball and went on a 5-minute scoring drought. This led to a 15-5 Wisconsin run to get back into the game, and eventually go on to win.

The Hoosiers are capable of competing against a tough team like Wisconsin, and they proved that by extending their lead to 22 points in the first half. The next step is to play a full-40 minute game and finish the game with a win.

January 16 vs No.13 Ohio State (Assembly Hall)

After a tough 71-65 loss against No. 23 Xavier, the Buckeyes pulled off upset wins over Seton Hall and Duke, which is the No. 2 team in the nation. They now have an 8-2 record and are amongst the best teams in the Big Ten, although they’ve since been on an extended break due to COVID-19.

The Buckeyes are led by the unanimous preseason All-Big Ten forward E.J Liddell. Last season, the Hoosiers fell to Ohio State 78-59. Liddell led the Buckeyes with 19 points. This season, Liddell has been on another level. He has improved his scoring and rebounding outputs and is averaging 20.6 points and 7.2 rebounds per game.

Jackson-Davis led the way for the Hoosiers with 23 points in the losing effort. Race Thompson only had 9 points in their last meeting. However, he has improved his game this season. Ohio State may struggle to match up with the size of both big men. The duo will need to dominate the paint to give the Hoosiers a chance to win the game.

February 12 at Michigan State (Breslin Center)

After leaving East Lansing to return to become the assistant coach at his alma mater, Dane Fife will face off against his former employer, Tom Izzo.

“It’s not easy working for someone at that level. The things you learn supersedes any tough times that you go through,” Fife said of his time at Michigan State.

“I’m really thankful for it, but I also think those 10 years were preparing me to come back and be able to help somebody like coach Woodson and get back to where this place deserves to be and should be,”

The Spartans have gotten off to a hot start. After losing to Kansas in the season opener, they have won 10 of their last 11 games. They have been able to defeat teams such as UConn, Louisville, and a solid Loyola-Chicago team.  Their only defeat was at the hands of the defending champions and the No. 1 team in the nation in the Baylor Bears.

Gabe Brown has taken the lead scoring role for the Spartans. Brown averages 14.6 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. He is a versatile forward who can score from anywhere on the floor including three-point range (39.5 3PT%).

Michigan State also holds a deep bench that has nine players averaging double-digits in minutes. That includes Malik Hall (10.2 PPG) and Marcus Bingham Jr. (10.8PPG; 8 RPG). They also have former five-star recruit Max Christie who is averaging just 9.4 points per game but once he gets accustomed to Big Ten play could be a major problem down the stretch.

Mike Woodson may lean heavily on Fife to provide an inside look at the Spartans and construct a game plan to beat his former mentor.

March 5 at Purdue (Mackey Arena)

The last time the Hoosiers won in Mackey Arena was in the 2012-13 season. Since then Indiana holds a 2-12 record and has lost nine straight in the series over the past five seasons.

This season, it will be a tough task to take down Purdue. They currently are the No. 3 team in the nation and hold a 12-1 record. Their only loss came off a Ron Harper Jr. buzzer-beater against Rutgers.

The Boilermakers have four players averaging double-digits in scoring. Jaden Ivey has quickly become one of the best scorers in college basketball with 16.7 points per game. Against UNC, Ivey almost had a triple-double with 22 points, 10 rebounds, and six assists. Xavier Johnson and Rob Phinisee will be leaned upon heavily to attempt to slow him down.

The frontcourt of the Hoosiers will also have a mountain to climb. The 7-foot-4 Zach Edey is averaging 14.9 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. He is also a major paint disruptor because of his size and large wingspan. However, he is not the only big man to worry about.

Trevion Williams often comes off the bench and offers another big frame for Purdue. The 6-foot-10, 265 pound Williams averages 13.3 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. He has also shown his abilities to spread the floor and knock down three-pointers with a 33.3 percent average.

The Boilermakers also have a deep bench that can contribute to scoring. It will take a total team effort for the Hoosiers to end their winless streak against what appears to be the top dog of the Big Ten.

To see Indiana’s complete remaining Big Ten schedule, GO HERE.

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