Quinn’s Friday March Madness Journal

Welcome to day two of my first ever March Madness Journal! Even though the Indiana Hoosiers’s season is over, that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy the two best sports days of the year. In fact, I’m going to cover all 32 first round games! Here are below are my game recaps and reactions written immediately after each game ended. I hope you all enjoyed the games and enjoy this little experiment:

Michigan 92, Oklahoma State 91

Honestly I could have just watched this game for 12 hours and be happily entertained. Back-and-forth and more offense than you can ask for, this was a great start to Friday. Derrick Walton Jr. (26 points, 5 rebounds, and 11 assists) is really starting to remind me of Kemba Walker and this Michigan team ( combined 11 of 15 from deep in second half) really believes it can take this magical run all the way to a championship. I don’t think they’ll get much further than the Sweet 16, but then again I never expected they’d get this far just a few weeks ago.

Baylor 91, New Mexico State 73

The victim of multiple first round upsets in recent years, you can’t blame me and others to think the same thing was going to happen when Baylor trailed New Mexico State 40-38 at half. What transpired afterward was a great psychological win for the Bears as they didn’t let the pressure of the past control them and went out and dominated in the second half. I didn’t get to watch much of this game because of the Michigan-Oklahoma State game, but the fact that they dominated in the second half points to the fact that this is a different Baylor team from years past.

Arkansas 77, Seton Hall 71

This was a great gamed that had a terrible end. Khadeen Carrington got trapped and accidently traveled down one with 24 seconds. Then a desperate attempt to foul led to Desi Rodriguez pushing Jaylen Barford from behind resulting in the feet getting tangled and Barford falling down. This was eventually called a flagrant 1 foul and it basically ended any chance of Seton Hall beating Arkansas. To be fair, Arkansas totally deserved to win but it was just a disappointing end to an otherwise great game.

Oregon 93, Iona 77

Didn’t get to watch much of this game either but Oregon definitely showed that the injury of Chris Boucher isn’t going to slow the Ducks down. Tyler Dorsey was sensational with 24 points on an excellent 9 of 14 shooting. Jordan Bell did a great job stepping up in Boucher’s absence as he finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Iona made things a little interesting but you never really felt Oregon was ever in danger.

Louisville 78, Jacksonville State 63

Louisville showed in the first half why I think they will have a hard time advancing very far in the NCAA Tournament. The Cardinals missed 11 of their first 12 shots and fell behind Jacksonville State by eight points early in the game. The problem is that offensive shortages like this are common for Louisville and while the Cardinals’ defense is excellent, a run similar to the Gamecocks’ run would be much harder to come back from against a better team. Also shoutout to Norbertas Giga, who scored 30 points for Jacksonville State on 11 of 13 shooting including a perfect 5 0f 5 from deep.

USC 66, SMU 65

Our first LEGIT upset! USC continues to amaze me how they are able to overcome big deficits (13 wins in which the Trojans trailed by double-digits), this time down 12 to SMU. It’s a shame the Mustangs are out because they had multiple players that I think could have had memorable tournament runs such as Semi Ojeleye (24 points and 10 rebounds) and Shake Milton (11 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, and some big shots down the stretch). Meanwhile, USC head coach Andy Enfield, formerly the head coach of Florida Gulf Coast’s magical run, is showing he can possibly orchestrate another tournament run.

North Carolina 103, Texas Southern 64

Not much really to say about this game but the fact that unlike with Villanova and Gonzaga, there was never even a hint of drama in this game as North Carolina dominated throughout. Fun fact about is that the Tar Heels’ bench combined for 46 points, 25 rebounds, and 12 assists. The Texas Southern team only had 18 more points (64), 2 more rebounds (27), and 3 less assists (9).

Rhode Island 84, Creighton 72

Just like Michigan, Rhode Island continued its hot play into the first round of the tournament as the Rams led from the start and besides a 17-17 tie with 6:26 left in the first half, had the lead for the entire game.  It obviously helps when you go 28 of 31 (90.3%) from the free throw line. The second round game with Oregon will be a great matchup of the Ducks’ offense vs the Rams’ defense.

Kansas 100, UC Davis 62

And just like that, we’ll have to wait another year to see the 16-1 upset. Not that surprised since none of the one-seeds looked vulnerable, not even Gonzaga. The Jayhawks finished the game shooting 56.3% (36 of 64) from the floor and 44% (11 of 25) from deep in a game that was close for only the first 15 minutes. Frank Mason III off to a great start in the tournament with 22 points, 5 rebounds, and 8 assists.

Wichita State 64, Dayton 58

Not the most dazzling basketball in the world, but this was “grind-it-out” game between two teams that deserved better seeds. The key of the game was Wichita State’s domination on the boards, where the Shockers outrebounded Dayton 48-29. Scoochie Smith did his best to keep the Flyers around, scoring almost 25 of the team’s 58 points. It will be interesting, especially since the game took place in Indianapolis, if Dayton Head Coach Archie Miller gets a call from IU about a coaching interview. More than likely, it’s too soon to make that call and besides Dayton isn’t that far away.

Duke 87, Troy 65

Like Michigan and Rhode Island before them, Duke showed that it was still feeling it after the Blue Devils’ ACC Tournament run as they easily beat Troy. Jayson Tatum was easily the best player on the court, finishing with 18 points, 12 rebounds, 4 steals, and 4 blocks. When you consider that this team has succeeded this season with mainly Luke Kennard and Grayson Allen carrying the team, Tatum’s performance is a great sign for Duke and a bad sign for the rest of the field.

Cincinnati 75, Kansas State 61

I picked Kansas State over Cincinnati because I wasn’t sure Cincinnati could score enough points. Well I was really wrong about that as the Bearcats scored 75 points on 62.8% shooting. Troy Caupain was the leader behind this attack going 7 of 10 from the floor for 23 points. Obviously thinking Cincinnati will continue to shoot above 60% during the rest of the tournament is silly, but if the Bearcats can hit around 50-55% of their shots and combine that with their trademark defense, this just became a scary team.

Michigan State 78, Miami 58

After a 17-5 start by Miami, it looked like Tom Izzo and his inconsistent and young Michigan State team were headed to another first round exit. Then something clicked as the turnovers stopped and the Spartans outscored the Hurricanes 33-10 over the rest of the first half, taking an 11 point lead into halftime. The Spartans wouldn’t let up as Izzo showed yet again that even with one of his weaker teams it’s hard to beat Izzo in the month of March.

South Carolina 93, Marquette 73

This was a back-and-forth game that ended up turning into a blowout thanks to a great stretch from SEC Player of the Year Sindarius Thornwell as he had 10 points during a 22-4 South Carolina run starting at the midpoint of the second half. He finished with a game-highs in points (29) and rebounds (11). Playing in their home-state may help the Gamecocks when they face Duke on Sunday

UCLA 97, Kent State 80

UCLA’s bad defense kept this a relatively close game for most of it as Kent State once narrowed the Bruins’ lead to just five. Thankfully for UCLA its offense rarely missed, hitting 62.7% of its shots and thus never letting the Flashes get much closer. Lonzo Ball (15 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists) was very good but not great while it was T.J. Leaf (23 points and 6 rebounds) and Thomas Welsh (16 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 assists) that impressed me the most. Aaron Holiday also posted a double-double finishing with 15 points and 11 assists.

Kentucky 79, Northern Kentucky 70

I’m so used to Kentucky blowing out mid-major teams in the NCAA Tournament by 20+ points that I was really confused by this game. Give a lot of credit to Northern Kentucky, who down to the final minute and down 10 still didn’t give up, but it was surprising that the Norse even had a chance that late in the game. My friend who is a Kentucky fan explained the Wildcats have played to the level of their competition all year, which really explains a lot and thus shouldn’t put much doubt in those who have Kentucky going deep in their brackets.

Advertisements

Quinn’s Thursday March Madness Journal

Welcome to my first ever March Madness Journal! Even though the Indiana Hoosiers’s season is over, that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy the two best sports days of the year. In fact, I’m going to cover all 32 first round games! Here are below are my game recaps and reactions written immediately after each game ended. I hope you all enjoyed the games and enjoy this little experiment:

Notre Dame 60, Princeton 58

Honestly Notre Dame is very lucky to have won this game, as the Irish really became sluggish towards the end. That and missed free throws from one of the best free throw shooting teams almost led to a buzzer-beating upset during our first game of the day. Matt Farrell and Bonzie Colson were great for Notre Dame, but they’ll need a third player to step up if they want to continue to advance.

Virginia 76, UNC-Wilmington 71

The Seahawks took control early and started making the numerous people who picked the upset (including myself) feel smart. Then the Cavaliers countered with a 19-3 run over the last seven minutes of the first half to actually take a one-point lead. From there, London Perrantes did what senior leaders do and took over, scoring 19 of his 24 points in the second half as Virginia held off a late UNC-Wilmington run. Fun fact, I actually didn’t get to watch much of the final minute because they decided to run a test emergency broadcast alert during that time.

Butler 76, Winthrop 64

Aside from a 7-0 run that cut the deficit from 14 to 7, early in the second half, Winthrop just couldn’t keep up with Butler as the Bulldogs look poised for a long tournament run despite finishing just .500 in their last 10 games before the tournament. With the two close 5/12 matchups playing at the same time, I didn’t get to see much of the game but what I do know is that if Avery Woodson (team-high 18 points) can continue this hot shooting (6 of 10 from deep), this just became a very dangerous team that North Carolina, Kentucky, and UCLA probably would like to avoid.

Gonzaga 66, South Dakota State 46

Usually you don’t start getting excited about a possible “16 over 1” upset until you get to the second half, but you can’t blame us for getting interest in this attempt. South Dakota State took an early 2-0 lead and almost went the entire first half without letting Gonzaga get ahead. Considering the Bulldogs NCAA Tournament history, this looked like a real opportunity for a 16-seed to end the streak. Alas Gonzaga finally went ahead with 1:40 left in the first and never looked back.

West Virginia 86, Bucknell 80

Bucknell made this one interesting by constantly trying to make late run, but to West Virginia’s credit the Mountaineers continuously responded to each attempt and prevented the Bison from making that necessary run. West Virginia is able to get the bad taste of losing to Stephen F. Austin last year and now has a pretty good matchup against Notre Dame in the second round.

Florida 80, East Tennessee State 65

East Tennessee State kept this game close throughout the first half and even took the lead at the start of the second half, but for the most part Florida had control of this game. Devin Robinson had a big second half scoring 14 of his 24 points after halftime. Four minutes into the second half, Robinson hit back-to-back threes to turn the Gator’s one-point lead into a seven-point lead. The Buccaneers never got closer than five points during the rest of the game.

Middle Tennessee 81, Minnesota 72

Our first “upset” wasn’t really an upset since most people picked Middle Tennessee in their brackets. Still, it was an impressive win for the Blue Raiders as they weathered a 7-0 start from Minnesota and then survived a furious 14-2 run by the Gophers in the second half thanks to the heroics of Reggie Upshaw. Middle Tennessee will face Butler in the second round and as good as Butler was earlier in the day, these Blue Raiders are going to be a tough obstacle to get through.

Northwestern 68, Vanderbilt 66

Easily the best game of the first half of Thursday. Vanderbilt came from 15 back and took the lead with 1:36 left. What followed was five lead changes in the final minute, including the still baffling intentional foul by Matthew Fisher-Davis right after Riley LaChance gave Vanderbilt the lead with 14 seconds left. McIntosh sank both free throws and somehow the Wildcats escape with a win in their first ever NCAA Tournament game. You can guarantee that foul will find itself on “One Shining Moment”.

Xavier 76, Maryland 65

This was all about Trevon Bluiett and his amazing second half performance. After being held to just three points in the first half, Bluiett was unconscious as he scored 18 in the second half and in the process turned a one-point halftime deficit into a double-digit win. Interesting enough, this ends Maryland’s run of winning at least one NCAA Tournament game, something the Terrapins had done in their previous 12 tournament appearances.

Villanova 76, Mount St. Mary’s 56

This game was basically a rehash of the Gonzaga-South Dakota State game as the 16-seed leads for almost the entirety of the first half only for the one-seed to grab it’s first lead with a minute left and take the lead into halftime. Villanova, just like Gonzaga, dominated in the second half to make the game into a blowout. Unlike in the previous game, I never really felt like the Wildcats were in danger of losing.

Purdue 80, Vermont 70

Vermont was determined to pull an “Arkansas-Little Rock” on Purdue, but these Boilermakers are much more poised than in years past and demonstrated that in this game. The defense allowed nothing easy and Caleb Swanigan was the main reason recording three blocks in the final three minutes. Having proved they can win in the NCAA Tournament, Purdue should have the confidence going forward to be a real threat to the rest of the Midwest Region.

Saint Mary’s 85, VCU 77

The only way to describe Saint Mary’s first half performance was that they destroyed VCU by hitting on 64% of their shots as the Gaels led 46-31. Yet the Rams never quit and while they never retook the lead, they made life extremely difficult for Saint Mary’s in the second half thanks to an 18-4 run that made it just a two-point game with 10 minutes left. A lot of teams may have quit after the first half beatdown, but VCU never gave up and was a few bounces away from possibly winning the game.

Florida State 86, Florida Gulf Coast 80

Probably one of the more entertaining games I watched today, the pace of these two teams was fun to watch. I admit that I underestimated the Seminoles and am happy they proved me wrong. Dwayne Bacon (25 points and 9 rebounds) and Jonathan Isaac (17 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 assists) were just as good as advertised. As expected, Florida Gulf Coast made it difficult as they constantly hung around and wouldn’t let FSU run away with the game.

Wisconsin 84, Virginia Tech 74

Zach LeDay and Virginia Tech really looked like they may take control away from Wisconsin and pull ahead but the Badgers’ experience was just too much for the Hokies. This was a vintage performance from Bronson Koenig, who made eight three-pointers in route to a game-high 28 points. Nigel Hayes also came in clutch as the 58% free throw shooter hit 8 of 9 from the foul line and six big offensive rebounds. Wisconsin is way too good to be an 8-seed and I have a feeling we may see that even more when they give Villanova a dogfight on Saturday.

Iowa State 84, Nevada 73

A trendy 12-5 upset pick, Iowa State really showed from the beginning that they weren’t planning on exiting early. The Cyclones dominated the first half and were able to hold on in the second half to advance to a matchup with Purdue that should be a must-see game on Saturday. Monte Morris was a little more mistake-prone than advertised (4 turnovers) but still impressed me by almost posting a triple-double, finishing with 19 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists.

Arizona 100, North Dakota 82

I’ll just be honest that I didn’t really watch much of this game because I was so tired by then plus it was blowout. From what I saw I can confirm Arizona is just as good as I thought. Just like Villanova and Gonzaga, they took care of business but Arizona never really struggled in its game. This looks like a well-oiled machine led by freshmen Lauri Markkanen and Rawle Alkins who each had 20 points.

Hoosiers In The NBA: The Aftereffects Of The Trade Deadline

NOTE: Hello everyone and welcome to a new edition of Hoosiers In The NBA! Please try to spread the word by liking it on Facebook or retweeting this on Twitter if you enjoyed it. Of course this is completely optional but it is greatly appreciated. Otherwise I hope you enjoy this latest edition and for more coverage follow me on twitter at @QTipsForSports or just look for the hashtag #HoosiersInTheNBA:


While not a single former Indiana Hoosier was moved at the NBA Trade Deadline this season, each team that has a former Hoosier did make at least one trade in preparation for the home stretch of this NBA regular season. So this time on Hoosiers In The NBA, I’ll go over the moves the Dallas Mavericks (Yogi Ferrell), Charlotte Hornets (Cody Zeller), Oklahoma City Thunder (Victor Oladipo), Portland Trail Blazers (Noah Vonleh), and Houston Rockets (Eric Gordon) made and how they affect our former Hoosiers.


Houston Rockets

  • Got Lou Williams from the Los Angeles Lakers for Corey Brewer and an unprotected first Round Pick in 2017
  • Sent K.J. McDaniels to the Brooklyn Nets for cap space
  • Sent Tyler Ennis to the Los Angeles Lakers for Marcelo Huertas

While at first it may sound redundant to add Lou Williams when you already have Eric Gordon, it actually isn’t for a team that plays like the Houston Rockets.

Recently removed from a game where they attempted 58 three-pointers, the Rockets try to put as many shooters on the floor as possible. Williams offers another shooter off the bench and adds insurance in case Gordon or starter Patrick Beverley miss extensive time due to injury.

Williams and Gordon can also play as a backcourt duo and are capable veterans with good enough passing skills to work well off another. Maybe most importantly they could give some much needed rest for James Harden near the end of the regular season.

As for the other two moves, they were in preparation of creating enough cap space if the right buyout candidate becomes available. Even if they don’t sign someone, neither player was playing much if at all for the team.


Charlotte Hornets

  • Got Miles Plumlee from the Milwaukee Bucks for Roy Hibbert and Spencer Hawes
  • Got Chris Andersen and cash from the Cleveland Cavaliers for a top-55 protected 2017 second round pick
  • Waived Chris Andersen

The importance of Cody Zeller to the Charlotte Hornets was made abundantly clear from the team’s actions during the trade deadline. Despite needing to fix numerous issues if they want to regroup and make the playoffs, the Hornets felt it was most necessary to get insurance for Zeller (who has already missed 20 games this season).

Miles Plumlee may be an unnecessarily expensive contract, but he’s still a very capable backup who poses no threat to taking Zeller’s starting spot away. Unfortunately he only played a couple of games before getting injured and is expected to be out for a week or two so the move has backfired on the Hornets at the moment.

The other move was a simple buyout. Knowing this, the Cleveland Cavaliers agreed to be compensated with a second round pick that won’t go to them unless the Hornets somehow make the Eastern Conference Finals.


Portland Trail Blazers

  • Got Jusuf Nurkic and a top-five protected first round pick in 2017 from the Denver Nuggets for Mason Plumlee, a 2018 second round pick, and cash

This was a very interesting trade as I did not expect the Portland Trail Blazers to part with a player who has been as valuable as Mason Plumlee.

Now what does this mean for Noah Vonleh? Well Jusuf Nurkic uses a lot more post-ups than Plumlee, and that might mean more open shots for Vonleh if Nurkic gets going and starts getting double-teamed. It has been 15 games since Vonleh attempted his last three-pointer and while I don’t expect him to start jacking up deep balls in the near future, this may be a chance to get some confidence from long range.

It will be very important that Vonleh improves playing with Nurkic because the Trail Blazers also received a first round pick in next year’s draft from the Nuggets, giving Portland potentially three of the first 30 picks this summer. It would be crazy to think the Trail Blazers wouldn’t draft someone to challenge Vonleh with one of those picks so Vonleh needs to start improving quickly.


Dallas Mavericks

  • Got Nerlens Noel from the Philadelphia 76ers for Andrew Bogut, Justin Anderson, and top-18 protected first round pick in 2017
  • Waived Deron Williams

While the most important move the Dallas Mavericks made this past week was trading for Nerlens Noel in hopes of him becoming Tyson Chandler 2.0, the move that affected former Hoosier Yogi Ferrell the most was management’s decision to waive Deron Williams and thus hand over the starting point guard position to Ferrell for at least the rest of the season.

While he already signed a two-year contract with the Mavs earlier in the month, whether that involves him starting or playing backup has yet to be determined. The early returns show a lot of positives for Ferrell becoming the long-term starter. He has averaged 13.2 points, 4.8 assists, and 1.6 steals in his nine starts and the Mavericks sport a 6-3 record in those games. Now that he has been given the chance, Ferrell just needs to keep up his level of play and he’ll remain the staring point guard going into next season.


Oklahoma City Thunder

  • Got Taj Gibson, Doug McDermott and a 2018 second round pick from the Chicago Bulls for Cameron Payne, Anthony Morrow, and Joffery Lauvergne

This was a huge trade for the Oklahoma City Thunder for multiple reasons. It gives a bench unit that has struggled two players that can score in double figures on any night. It adds depth up front and on the wing, two areas that were a little lacking.

Most importantly it signals that Victor Oladipo is about to have a much bigger role on the Thunder. The departure of Cameron Payne means that Semaj Christon is the backup point guard for those instances when Russell Westbrook needs to rest. While Christon is okay, this might be a chance for Oladipo to play the role of main ball handler again.

The addition of Doug McDermott also may allow Oladipo to move around the court more and get back to some of his slashing playstyle. The Thunder didn’t have a ton of three-point threats to space the floor and thus relied on Oladipo to stay along the perimeter to create that space. While it has led to an improved three-point shot from Oladipo, it has limited him from doing some of the other things he does well like drawing fouls on drives to the bucket or grabbing more rebounds. McDermott can potentially be that spacer that can let Oladipo show off some of his other skills.


Season Averages:

Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell: Guard, Dallas Mavericks:

9.5ppg, 2.3rpg, 3.4apg, 0.82spg, 0.18bpg, 1.6tpg, 1.8fpg, 40.9% FG, 37.2% 3FG, 80.0% FT, 24.6mpg (22 games)

Eric Gordon: Guard, Houston Rockets:

17.2ppg, 2.6rpg, 2.7apg, 0.63spg, 0.52bpg, 1.7tpg, 2.0fpg, 41.4% FG, 38.2% 3FG, 84.4% FT, 30.5mpg (54 games)

Victor Oladipo: Guard, Oklahoma City Thunder:

16.1ppg, 4.4rpg, 2.5apg, 1.23spg, 0.33bpg, 1.6tpg, 2.3fpg, 44.6% FG, 35.4% 3FG, 74.1% FT, 33.7mpg (48 games)

Noah Vonleh: Forward, Portland Trail Blazers:

3.3ppg, 4.2rpg, 0.2apg, 0.32spg, 0.36bpg, 0.8tpg, 1.8fpg, 42.3% FG, 35.0% 3FG, 55.3% FT, 13.4mpg (50 games)

Cody Zeller: Forward, Charlotte Hornets:

10.8ppg, 6.5rpg, 1.4apg, 0.77spg, 1.05bpg, 1.3tpg, 3.2fpg, 58.7% FG, 0.0% 3FG, 69.2% FT, 26.8mpg (39 games)

Hoosiers Get A Fairy Tale Ending On Senior Night, Squeak Past Northwestern

It was a magical night in Bloomington that culminated in Indiana’s lone senior proposing to his girlfriend on Senior Night.

But before Collin Hartman got down on one knee and became engaged to his girlfriend, his Indiana Hoosiers finally had their own happy ending as they ended their five-game losing streak by barely (and I mean barely) getting past Northwestern 63-62.

The magic started with 5:30 left in the first half. After a quick 30-second timeout in response to a 11-0 Northwestern run to extend the Wildcats’ lead to 22-14, the Hoosiers showed a passion not seen during the first 14:30 as IU finished the half on an incredible 22-0 run that ended with Devonte Green sinking a buzzer-beating three-pointer from the opposite three-point line.

Despite ending the half on such a momentum-shifting run, the Hoosiers 36-26 halftime lead didn’t last long as the Wildcats only needed 6 minutes to retake the lead and held it until the final seconds.

With 3:11 left and the Wildcats up 61-53, it looked like the clock was about to strike midnight on the Hoosiers last remaining hope of playing in the postseason. Yet the tide turned yet again as the Hoosiers finished the game on a 11-1 run that included the following:

  • Three offensive rebounds for IU in one possession
  • 87.5% free throw shooter Bryant McIntosh missing one of his free throws
  • Robert Johnson scoring just his second bucket of the game and his first since the 10:12 mark of the first half
  • James Blackmon Jr hitting a big three-pointer with 38 seconds left
  • Not fouling Northwestern and perfectly defending the Wildcats for the full shot clock
  • Not calling a timeout after grabbing the rebound with nine seconds left and having Blackmon drive to the basket only to throw an amazing pass to an open Thomas Bryant underneath the basket.
  • Bryant getting fouled but still being able to make the game-tying basket with 2.6 seconds left
  • The most dramatic go-ahead free throw make of all-time

(No seriously, the way the ball bounced up in the air before going through the hoop is something out of the end of a Disney sports movie)

What made it even more suspenseful was that McIntosh’s half court heave almost went at the buzzer but luckily for the Hoosiers it hit off the back of the rim.

The result was a win for one of Indiana’s best winners in Collin Hartman. As stated by Indiana Coach Tom Crean during the celebration, Hartman was an integral part of last year’s Big Ten championship team. He did all the little things and even stepped up in the scoring department when the Hoosiers needed him most. But perhaps the biggest lasting image of Hartman was the fact that he wanted the Hoosiers to beat Kentucky so badly that he played in the game despite having a broken wrist.

For the ultimate winner, it was only fitting that the Hoosiers made what was likely his last game in Assembly Hall a win.

Indiana’s NCAA Tournament Hopes Look Grim After Home Loss To Michigan

When the NCAA Selection Committee showed their top 16 teams this weekend, a grim reality sunk in for the Big Ten. None of the top three teams (Wisconsin, Purdue, Maryland) were among those top 16, showing that the Selection Committee does not think highly of the Big Ten this season.

That’s why it was so important for Indiana to beat fellow bubble team Michigan at home. Instead, the Hoosiers lost and now look at the realistic situation of needing to win the rest of their regular season games just to have a chance of playing in the NCAA Tournament.

Unlike the last two losses (at Wisconsin/vs Purdue) where the Hoosiers battled a top team in the conference and fell just short, IU never really gave Michigan much of a battle as the Wolverines scored the first basket and never let Indiana take the lead once. Michigan led by as many as 13 while the Hoosiers never got closer than six points in the second half.

Thomas Bryant, who had averaged 20.2 points over his last five games, was constantly doubled as he was limited to just eight points, five rebounds, and three blocks. Unfortunately, the Hoosiers had a difficult time turning the double team to their advantage and getting the ball to the open man, as Indiana again committed 15 turnovers that led to 20 points for Michigan.

The one person who did step up was De’Ron Davis. Two days removed from taking a shot to the face that made him miss most of the second half against Purdue, Davis was the only Hoosier able to take advantage of Bryant’s double-team as he scored a team-high 13 points on 4 of 5 shooting, including 5 of 6 from the free throw line.

“He played very well considering shot that he took (against Purdue),” said Indiana Head Coach Tom Crean. “And we’ve got to continue to play him more. He’s not as great in the ball screens so that sometimes limits (his minutes). But he’s very, very hard to guard and he’s got great feet, great hands and great eyes.”

Crean was really frank about his team’s performance, saying his team needs to get easier shots on offense and has to play with the same intensity as when shots do go in the basket. He was especially frustrated with the team’s consistent overhelping on defense.

“It makes no sense to be coming off the corners the way that we are with what we have out there. That’s not what we do. We guard the ball. We don’t overhelp because it’s teams like Michigan that can shoot the ball so well.”

Crean also talked about everyone on the team needing to improve communication, including himself.

“It’s very easy to be locked in and connected to one another when the shots are going, but when they aren’t going is when real leadership’s got to emerge. And I’m not shirking the responsibility one iota. One thing I’ve learned in nine years it all falls on me. But the bottom line is that we’ve got to do something to get communication up.”

“We still have a season left to play,” said Robert Johnson about his team at this moment. “So we’re not even thinking about quitting. We always look forward to the next game. Now we’re just looking forward to getting better and moving on to the next game. And that’s another opportunity.


With Indiana probably needing to win out to keep its NCAA Tournament hopes alive, here is a breakdown of the final five games:

  • February 15 – at Minnesota
  • February 21 – at Iowa
  • February 25 – vs Northwestern
  • February 28 – at Purdue
  • March 4 – at Ohio State

The problem with Indiana’s remaining schedule is it’s difficulty level. The slate of teams may not all be at the top of the Big Ten standings, but that doesn’t matter when you realize the Hoosiers have struggled heavily on the road this season, going 1-5 so far with the one win coming via a James Blackmon Jr. buzzer-beater at Penn State.

There’s also the fact that other than beating Purdue in West Lafayette, none of the other potential wins would be huge resume-building wins. Iowa and Ohio State are likely going to the NIT, and while Minnesota and Northwestern would be nice wins, neither is guaranteed to be in the NCAA Tournament and both would likely take a hit to their resumes if they did lose to Indiana.

Basically the formula for Indiana to have a shot come Selection Sunday is to get a huge win at Purdue and pad the overall record by avoiding anymore losses. It will be a tough road ahead, but if Johnson is right and this team isn’t quitting, they still have chance no matter how small.

Despite Bryant’s Best Effort, Indiana’s Offense Unable To Outscore Purdue

The Indiana Hoosiers held the Purdue Boilermakers, the Big Ten’s best three-point shooting team, to just 28.6% from behind the arc. The Hoosiers grabbed the same number of rebounds (35 each) and even kept the turnovers fairly close (14 to 12).

Yet despite all that, the Hoosiers again failed to gain another resume-building win as they lost to Purdue 69-64 in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall on Thursday night.

The main cause for the loss was an unproductive offense. The usually potent IU offense struggled as Indiana shot 38.6% from the floor and 33.3% from behind the arc. In fact it’s not just this game as Indiana (averaging 81.3 points per game on the season) has averaged just 69.8 points over the last five games. When you take into account that one of those games was a triple overtime game where the Hoosiers scored 110 points against Penn State, those scoring numbers look even worse (for reference, the Hoosiers have averaged 59.8 points in the other four games)

It’s no secret that the “injury bug” has bitten the Hoosiers hard this year, but this game more than any of the last five games showed how short-handed the Hoosiers are at the moment.

  • Despite getting James Blackmon Jr. back from a leg injury, Blackmon very rarely looked like himself as he struggled with his shot all night, finishing 3 of 14  from the floor including 1 of 7 from deep.
  • Juwan Morgan, who’s playing while still injured, started strong but got into foul trouble and didn’t score after halftime.
  • Devonte Green, who had been playing well replacing Blackmon in the starting lineup, was limited to five minutes due to getting a back spasm lifting weights earlier in the week.
  • On top of all that, De’Ron Davis took a shot to the face early in the second half and missed the rest of the game.

Perhaps Purdue Head Coach Matt Painter explained it best as to why injuries really played a huge role in Indiana’s loss.

“You have to understand that Indiana doesn’t have a lot of their guys,” said Painter. “Collin Hartman is a good player, he affects winning and OG (Anunoby) is a really good player, so now when they get into foul trouble (like they did tonight) it’s not normal foul trouble, now it’s two guys are out, one just came back from injury and then you have a couple of guys in foul trouble.”

The one shining light, and the reason Indiana had a chance of actually winning the game was Thomas Bryant.

After being held in check in the first half due to foul trouble, Bryant singlehandedly carried the Hoosiers in the second half, scoring 17 of the Hoosiers’ 28 second half points. He finished with 23 points on 8 of 12 shooting, 3 of 4 from three-point range. Over the last five games, Bryant has averaged 20.2 points on an eye-popping 68.4% (39 of 57) shooting.

So when the controversial “blarge” was called with 44 seconds left (What’s a blarge? Well one referee called a blocking foul while the other called a charging foul, so the refs copped out and called a double foul. It’s okay if that definition  just confuses you more because honestly it confuses me too.),  Indiana’s fate was sealed as Thomas Bryant picked up his fifth foul.

If Bryant can keep up this level of production and can get some help from his teammates that are either not 100% yet (Blackmon, Morgan) or are wildly inconsistent as of late (Josh Newkirk, Rob Johnson), then the Hoosiers can still make the NCAA Tournament. But with six games left in the regular season, time is starting to run out.

The Episodic Summary Of Indiana’s Triple-Overtime Win Over Penn State

How does one go about summarizing a triple-overtime marathon that saw Indiana just do enough to get a much needed win?

Indiana’s 110-102 victory over the Penn State Nittany Lions had so many subplots and plot twists it practically qualifies as its own soap opera. So by dividing all of the periods (two halves and three overtimes) into their own episodes, here is the series breakdown of the five part mini-series known as Penn State at Indiana (2017):

Episode 1: Controlling The Boards

Summary: Off the heels of two embarrassing blowout road losses to Michigan and Northwestern, there was no way to overstate how important it was for the Indiana Hoosiers to win this home game against Penn State. However the Nittany Lions were out for revenge after losing at home to this Hoosier squad due to James Balckmon’s buzzer-beating three-pointer.

The Hoosiers jumped out to an early 11-6 lead that was quickly countered. Penn State made four straight three-pointers and took a 20-16 lead into the 10-minute mark of the first half.

That’s when the tide turned in the Hoosiers’ favor as Indiana outrebounded Penn State 10-2 over the next 6 minutes, including six straight rebounds at one point. Josh Newkirk scored 11 of his 12 first half points and Thomas Bryant scored 7 of  his 13 first half points during a 22-4 that had Indiana up 38-26 with 4:17 left in the first half.

The last four minutes of the period featured Penn State star freshman Tony Carr dishing out four of his six first half assists and Zach McRoberts showing that he can dunk. The first half, and the episode comes to a close as Indiana takes a 46-37 lead.

Episode 2: Tony Carr Strikes Back

Summary: A top 100 recruit out of Philadelphia, freshman Tony Carr is a rising star for the Nittany Lions. Carr had possibly his best game of the year when Indiana came to Penn State as he scored a career-high 24 points. However at halftime he had just two points on 1 of 3 shooting. He did have six assists but the Nittany Lions would need his scoring if they were to come back in this game.

Carr did just that as he went 4 of 8 in the second half and scored 12 points while also adding four assists to give himself a double-double in regulation. Nine of those points came during the first seven minutes of the second half when the Nittany Lions went on a 17-8 run to tie the game at 54.

The Hoosiers did there best over the next 12 minutes to never let Penn State take the lead. Four times the Nittany Lions tied the game, but each time Indiana responded by taking the lead again.

That is until Carr scored his final points of the second half as his “and-1” layup gave Penn State its first lead of the second half with 38 seconds left.

Bryant, who was up to 18 points at this point, responded by drawing a foul with 24 seconds left, giving him a chance to tie the game from the free throw line. Unfortunately he only made one of his two foul shots and forced the Hoosiers to have to foul Penn State’s Lamar Stevens.

Another talented freshman, Stevens had a game-high 20 points when he went to the free throw line with 22 seconds left. On top of that, Stevens was an excellent free throw shooter as his 81.3% from the foul line ranked fourth in the whole Big Ten. However, Stevens also was only able to make one of two and the Hoosiers had one more shot, down 72-70.

Stevens compounded his mistake of missing one of the free throws by fouling Indiana freshman De’Ron Davis with just three seconds left. With all of Simon Skjodt Assembly so quiet you could sit in the top row of the balcony and hear a pin drop onto the court, Davis did what neither Bryant nor Stevens could do as he made both free throws to tie the game.

The episode ends as Josh Reaves tried to break Indiana’s heart like the Hoosiers did to Penn State with Blackmon’s buzzer-beater, but Reaves buzzer-beating layup was too high off the glass as the horn rang.

Episode 3: At The Buzzer

Summary: Overtime starts with Penn State getting out to an early lead thanks to two easy dunks by Julian Moore. Blown defensive switches by Indiana looked to signal that the team was running out of gas, especially when the Nittany Lions took a 78-74 lead with 1:35 left.

After a 30 second timeout, the Hoosiers were faced with a possession that absolutely needed to end with a score. Freshman Devonte Green was unable to convert on a layup but Bryant was able to grab the missed shot before missing too. With pent up frustration and desperation, Bryant grabbed his own miss and ferociously slammed the ball through the hoop and drew contact from Moore.

Yet again Bryant missed from the foul line but 20 seconds later a steal from Newkirk gave the Hoosiers a chance to tie the game. Newkirk, who had been 3 of 6 from deep so far, got a great look but it just wasn’t able to fall as the Hoosiers were forced to foul Stevens again, this time with 27 seconds left.

Luckily for the Hoosiers, lighting struck twice as Stevens again split the pair of free throws, making it a three-point game. Desperate to get any points, Bryant was able to convert a layup with 11 seconds.

This time Penn State had their team captain and senior leader Shep Garner go to the free throw line in hopes of forcing IU to have to hit a three to continue the game. However, foul shooting again plagued the Nittany Lions as Garner was only able to make one of two.

With six seconds left, Newkirk was given the option to find the open man or take it to the rim himself. He chose the latter and skated around the defense to make a buzzer-beating layup to tie the game and send it to another overtime.

Or did he beat the buzzer? The last part of the episode takes several looks at the layup and whether or not it should count. Penn State Coach Pat Chambers was convinced it didn’t and his players start to celebrate their win. Yet one angle shows the ball just leaving the top of his fingertips as the backboard lighted up. That combined with the referees initial call of a good basket made the referees decide to count the basket and tie the game at 80.

Episode 4: Missed Opportunities

Summary: The episode opens with Coach Chambers still upset that the basket was counted but he quickly regroups and gets his players ready for the second overtime. Unfortunately his players still seem preoccupied with the call as they aren’t ready for the start of the period as Indiana scored four quick points to take its first lead since the final minute of the second half.

Sensing they have an opportunity to put the game away, the Hoosiers put the ball in Bryant’s hands and he proceeded to score eight of his career-high 31 points in the period and push Indiana’s lead to as much as six points.

With his team on the ropes, Carr again took over as he scored seven of his 23 points in the period including a huge three-pointer that cuts Indiana’s lead down to 92-91 with 36 seconds left.

In a reversal of roles from the first overtime, Newkirk was now at the line with a chance to make it a three-point lead for the Hoosiers when he only makes one of his two free throws. Carr then had the chance to hit the go-ahead three-pointer but it fell short as Green gathered the rebound and was fouled with 11 seconds left.

One made free throw would force a Penn State three-pointer to extend the game and two made free throws would clinch the win for Indiana. Unfortunately the nerves got to the freshman Green as he missed both. Carr redeemed himself as he drew a foul and tied the game by making both of his free throws.

Green is given a shot at winning the game but the episode ends as Reaves blocked his shot as the buzzer sounded yet again with both teams tied.

Episode 5: Green’s Redemption

Summary: The final episode warms up with both teams trading baskets, but it’s with 3:05 left after Newkirk hits a big three-pointer to give Indiana a 98-95 lead and it’s first make from behind the arc since the second half that the moment of truth occurs.

In an incredible plot twist, it wasn’t the short-handed Hoosiers that made the fatal error due to fatigue, but it was the Nittany Lions as the ensuing lackadaisical inbound pass was stolen by Green who redeems his two missed free throws as he made it a two-score game with the easy layup.

Green continues his redemption as he makes all four of his free throws in the period, and in the process achieved his first career double-double.

Things start to look unresolved when Bryant fouled out and Penn State narrowed Indiana’s nine point lead to just four with 43 seconds left but Newkirk and Rob Johnson closed the game out at the foul line as the Hoosiers as a whole went 10 of 10 in the third and final overtime.

When Nazeer Bostick’s three-point attempt missed and fell into the hands of Davis with Indiana up eight points with 13 seconds, Coach Chambers called for his players to stop fouling as the marathon finally came to a close.

For the Hoosiers, it was a huge win as the team improved to 5-5 in Big Ten play. But most importantly, it showed that these Hoosiers have too much heart to quit.


Cast (Boxscores):

Penn State:

Tony Carr – 23 points (7-17 FG)(2-7 3FG)(7-10 FG), 5 rebounds, 14 assists, 42 minutes.

Lamar Stevens – 26 points (9-17 FG)(2-3 3FG)(6-9 FT), 8 rebounds, 42 minutes.

Shep Garner – 16 points (5-15 FG)(4-11 3FG)(2-5 FT), 3 assists, 50 minutes.

Indiana:

Thomas Bryant – 31 points (13-18 FG)(1-1 3FG)(4-8 FT), 11 rebounds, 2 steals, 44 minutes.

Josh Newkirk – 27 points (9-14 FG)(4-8 3FG)(5-8 FT), 2 blocks, 46 minutes.

Rob Johnson – 27 points (10-17 FG)(1-5 3FG)(6-6 FT), 11 rebounds, 50 minutes.

Devonte Green – 10 points (3-11 FG)(0-4 3FG)(4-6 FT), 10 rebounds, 4 assists, 45 minutes.

De’Ron Davis – 9 points (3-8 FG)(3-3 FT), 8 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks, 22 minutes.