Third Time Is The Charm As Indiana Pulls Off The Upset In Double Overtime Over Wisconsin

After close hard-fought losses to Purdue and Iowa, the Indiana Hoosiers finally got over the hump by finishing off the Wisconsin Badgers 75-73 for their second win of the month, both of which have come against ranked teams in overtime.

However, this time it took two overtime periods.

In a season where the Indiana Hoosiers refuse to have a game that doesn’t raise their fans’ blood pressure, IU saw the ball in their possession with under 10 seconds on three different occasions:

  • Five seconds to go in the second half
  • 13 seconds remaining in the first overtime
  • Nine seconds remaining in the second overtime

Each time the Hoosiers had a chance to finish off the Badgers, but it wasn’t until attempt number three that Indiana succeeded.

Here is how those possessions played out and why Indiana was able to win a close game after so many close calls:

Attempt #1: Five seconds to go in the second half

The Hoosiers had already executed in draining the clock down while getting the go-ahead bucket when Rob Phinisee made a huge layup with eight seconds remaining. However, all of that was undone when Al Durham was almost immediately called for a foul that put D’Mitrik Trice to the foul line, where he tied the game by making both free throws.

Having played the role of hero in the past (remember the Butler game) and also feeling confident after hitting a go-ahead layup just earlier, Phinisee took control of the ball during the final five seconds and launched a three from the right wing. However this time the shot did not fall because he never got set when attempting the shot. The bigger problem with this possession was that Romeo Langford never touched the ball, something Indiana Coach Archie Miller would try to remedy if given the opportunity again.

Attempt #2: 13 seconds remaining in the first overtime

The Hoosiers found themselves up by three with 20 seconds remaining after a tough bucket from Langford in the paint. However, as has been the case for the Hoosiers since the calendar hit 2019, IU’s hard work was countered by a back-breaking three-pointer as Trice yet again saved the Badgers with a fast break three-pointer to tie with 13 seconds remaining.

This time with the clock winding down the ball was in Langford’s hands at just above the foul line. Yet Khalil Iverson made the bold move to try and poke the ball away from Langford and succeeded as both scrambled for the loose ball. It ended up going out of bounds with two seconds left.

While the ball remained in Indiana’s possession the damage was already done as the Hoosiers were forced to in-bound and immediately shoot. This ended very badly as only Durham was able to get open a good 35 feet away from the basket and chucked up an air ball. Yet again, Langford didn’t get to attempt the final shot.

Attempt #3: Nine seconds remaining in the second overtime

A missed Iverson layup was rebounded by Race Thompson with less than 30 seconds remaining and immediately given to Langford. Wisconsin then tried to trap the talented freshman and almost forced a turnover but a couple of nice touch passes by Thompson and Phinisee directed the ball to a wide open De’Ron Davis who absorbed the desperation foul and made the layup.

Davis would miss the free throw, giving the ball to Wisconsin down three with 15 seconds remaining. Trice would yet again draw the foul, this time getting Devonte Green on a three-point fake. The Wisconsin sophomore would make all three of his foul shots, tying the game yet again with nine seconds remaining.

Like in the first overtime, Langford brought the ball up the court but this time, with the help of a fake screen by Phinisee, Langford used Iverson’s hesitation to blow past him and get to the rim, where Langford banked the layup with 0.8 seconds left.

“Finally I hit one,” said Langford with a sigh of relief about the game-winner. Langford had previously come up short during the last couple of games when taking the final shot. He said he learned from his past mistakes to not settle for the jump shot.

“We talked about it after the Iowa game,” said Miller. “Don’t settle. Get to the rim.”

Miller was also quick to praise Phinisee for his role in the game-winner.

“Rob did a great job, we asked him to come up and interfere a little bit and get out. The minute he did that, I thought their guy just flinched just a quick second. And the minute he did it, I knew Romeo’s shoulder was going to get by him.”

It’s unclear if this is the start of an end-of-season run for the Hoosiers or just a respite from a cursed season, but we know for sure that this will be a game to look back on in the future whenever the Hoosiers need to find confidence in themselves.

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Three Ways IU Can Rebound From Current Three Game Losing Streak

At the midpoint of the college basketball season, the Indiana Hoosiers are going in the wrong direction. The Hoosiers’ 75-68 loss against the Wisconsin Badgers on Tuesday night marked the third straight loss for Indiana and fourth loss in six games.

However like I said, there is still a second half of the season to play and plenty of time for the Hoosiers to rebound from this slump and peak going into March. Here are three ways Indiana can improve during the rest of the season:

More De’Ron Davis: There was a five-minute span in the second half against Wisconsin when De’Ron Davis could not be stopped. Against Badger forwards Ethan Happ and Nigel Hayes, Davis was unfazed as he was given the ball in the post on four of six possessions, scoring three times and splitting a pair of free throws on the fourth possession.

As we near midseason, Davis is now 100% healthy and is ready for more playing time. He doesn’t need to necessarily start every game with Thomas Bryant, even though the two have worked well together quite often. Davis has been brilliant offensively in the post on a limited basis, and having out on the court more may help draw defenses’ attention from the three-point line where the Hoosiers have shot just 32.8% (20 of 61) the last three games.

Avoid Live-Ball Turnovers: With the pace that Indiana plays, getting rid of turnovers altogether is going to be a tall order to fill. However, the Hoosiers can make their lives so much easier if they just limited live-ball turnovers.

The Hoosiers are capable of neutralizing their high turnover rate because their elite offensive rebounding creates enough second-chance shots to even it out. Yet it’s when a turnover is compounded by an easy basket by the opposition that it becomes too hard for the Hoosiers to overcome their mistakes. Nebraska, Louisville, and Wisconsin averaged 21 points off of turnovers during Indiana’s current losing streak. Cut that number in half and Indiana would have won two of those games.

Avoid Getting Into Big Holes: One reoccurring theme in all five of Indiana’s losses this season is that the Hoosiers have fallen behind by double-digits, causing them to exert all of their energy to even up the game again only to run out of gas near the end.

  • Fort Wayne led by 10 with 16:04 left in the first half, and then led by 12 with 9:49 left in the second half
  • Butler led by 14 at half and by as much as 16 with 19:23 left in the second half
  • Nebraska led by 12 with 10:33 left in the first half
  • Louisville led by 12 at half and by as much as 16 with 5:50 left in the second half
  • Wisconsin opened the game on a 13-0 run and led by 14 with 16:09 left in the first half

Compare that to the North Carolina game, where Indiana never trailed at all during the game. Of course it’s unrealistic to expect that in every game so let’s compare it to the Kansas game:

The Jayhawks’ biggest lead was by nine points with 18:44 left in the second half. Over the next four minutes, the Hoosiers responded with a 14-5 run that tied the game up at 56. From there the lead changed 15 times and was tied another eight times before Indiana came out on top. The reason IU did come out on top was that they took a five point lead with 3:45 left in the second half and effectively flipped the script with Kansas having to claw its way back.

I’m not saying the Hoosiers are incapable of overcoming double-digit deficits. It’s just that the Hoosiers need to find out a way to avoid falling behind by so much, because it’s a lot easier to win a game when your sole focus doesn’t become trying to overcome a big deficit.

 

Potential IU Championship Run Could Include The Ultimate Cathartic Scenario

IMPORTANT NOTE: The following article is drowning in hypotheticals and should be seen not as a prediction of what will happen but as a fun observation that makes for a great story. This is basically a big “What-If” that will likely only be relevant this week before the games start. So please stick around and enjoy if “movie scripts/storybook endings” interest you.


When the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament rolls around, the fans of the remaining 16 teams are allowed to start dreaming  about the possibility of a the national championship. Of course, it’s strictly “dream-only” at the moment as these teams have only completed a third of this three-week marathon. Nevertheless they can still dream, and you can bet Hoosier Nation is daydreaming like crazy.

Despite having a tough matchup with the  top-seeded North Carolina Tar Heels, Hoosier fans are on cloud nine after a cathartic second round win over the Kentucky Wildcats. It was cathartic not only because it was the first time the rivals had played in four years, but also because that last matchup ended with Kentucky beating Indiana in the Sweet 16 en route to an eighth national championship.

The Hoosiers hope the same happens for them this postseason but standing in their way is a talented North Carolina team that will be tough to beat. More likely than not, Indiana’s unexpectedly successful season will strike midnight when the clocks in Philadelphia also strike midnight on Friday, but this Indiana team has beaten the odds so many times this season that you can never count them out.

So let’s play the “What-If” game. I’m pretty sure Hoosier Nation would find any possible scenario that ends with a sixth  national championship banner being hung in Assembly Hall to be cathartic (especially after going 29 years since the last one), but the level of how cathartic it can get is so insane that one would think this was a cliché Disney sports movie. IU could potentially win the championship by defeating the three teams that in recent college basketball history have made life difficult for Hoosier Nation. So let’s have fun and take a look at what would be the ultimate “Hoosier Catharsis”:


While there hasn’t been much recent history between Indiana and North Carolina, the two titans of college basketball have met twice before in the NCAA Tournament.

The first one came in 1981, when the Hoosiers defeated the Tar Heels 63-50 in the National Championship game. The Hoosiers were led by Isiah Thomas, a guard who wore #11 and scored a game-high 23 points.

The second time came in the 1984 Sweet 16 as the underdog Hoosiers beat the top-seeded Tar Heels 72-68 in what would be Michael Jordan’s last college game. Guarding MJ was Dan Dakich, a guard who wore #11 and held the AP player of the year to just 13 points on 6 of 14 shooting.

I don’t think I need to remind anyone that this year’s Hoosiers also has a difference-maker in Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell,  a guard who wears #11.


But it’s the regional championship round (or Elite Eight) where things start to get interesting. The opponent of the UNC-IU winner will either be the Notre Dame Fighting Irish or the Wisconsin Badgers. Both teams faced Indiana during the season and both would work as compelling rematches.

Indiana’s 15-point comeback win over the Fighting Irish during the Crossroads Classic turned into a pivotal crossroad for the Hoosiers as ever since that comeback IU has transformed from a terrible defense to one that just allowed 0.94 points per possession to a Kentucky team that ranked second in the country in points per possession. Adding that new defensive intensity with the pre-existing offensive brilliance created a combination that was able to turn around the season and win the Big Ten regular season championship outright.

While it would be cool for Indiana to face the team that provided the game responsible for the turn around, there are two problems with it. The first problem is that this potential matchup could turn into a “revenge game” for Notre Dame; after all it was the Irish that blew a 15-point lead in that game. The second reason is that there’s a better potential matchup that could await the Hoosiers.

No Big Ten team has bullied the Hoosiers as badly and as long as the Wisconsin Badgers. While a couple of recent victories for Indiana at Assembly Hall has relieved some of the psychological hold the Badgers had over IU, there is still the fact that the Hoosiers haven’t beat Wisconsin outside of Assembly Hall since the 2006 Big Ten Tournament but even that game was in Indianapolis. That last time the Hoosiers beat the Badgers outside of the state of Indiana was the 2001 Big Ten Tournament in Chicago.

While this potential game wouldn’t be played in Wisconsin (where IU hasn’t won since 1998), it would still be a huge accomplishment for this Indiana team to reach the Final Four by beating the one team that has been a thorn in its side for so long.


If Indiana was able to make it this far it would be its first Final Four in 14 years (2002). One of the major reasons it took so long to return to the Final Four was because the best Hoosier team during that stretch lost in the Sweet 16 three years ago to the Syracuse Orange. Wouldn’t you know it that not only is Syracuse still alive in this year’s NCAA Tournament, but if both Syracuse and Indiana kept winning they would face each other in this season’s Final Four.

Unfortunately this is the least likely of the things that are needed to go right in this hypothetical. The Orange were a bubble team that was not only graciously granted a 10-seed, but lucked out when 15-seed Middle Tennessee State upset a Michigan State team that would have easily ended Syracuse’s season. Seeing Syracuse beat Gonzaga and then either Virginia or Iowa State seems fairly unrealistic given what we know at the moment.

However, if they did reach Houston it would probably be the single most cathartic win in this championship run scenario. There’s only one other game against one other team that would make a better “revenge game.”


That game would be against Duke.

If the Notre Dame game was the crossroad moment the Hoosiers turned things around, then the Duke game was the moment that forced IU into that crossroad.

How bad was the 94-74 loss on December 2nd? The 1.53 points per possession that Indiana allowed to Duke on that night  are the most allowed by an NCAA basketball team in the last three seasons. I’m not just talking about the “power-five” conferences: none of the 351 teams in the NCAA allowed more points per possession in a game than Indiana did to Duke on that early December night.

Three and a half months later, that same Indiana defense allowed Kentucky to only score 0.94 points per possession. Don’t brush off Indiana’s defensive improvement as hyperbole. This drastic transformation is real and I bet Hoosier fans would love another chance at Duke with their improved defense.

A loss to Duke during the middle of the season was rock bottom. A championship win over that same Duke team would be the ultimate “revenge game.” That is the true definition of catharsis.

Former Indiana High Schoolers Shine In Indianapolis (B1G Tournament Recap Day 2)

Because there are so many good basketball recruits in the state of Indiana, many of the top colleges scout area and thus players are seen playing with teams all around the country. That is especially true of Big Ten schools as their proximity to the state of Indiana makes the player feel like they are never too far away from home.

Well quite a few of those players did return home this weekend and have played an important part in their team’s success in the Big Ten Tournament. Whether it was great play during crunch time or the game-winning shot, former Hoosiers definitely felt at home on Thursday.


#8 Michigan 72, #9 Northwestern 70 (OT)

Even though Michigan was the team fighting for a spot in the NCAA Tournament, Northwestern looked like the more focused team for the majority of the game. Every time it seemed that the Wolverines had seized control of the game, the Wildcats made a run to make it close. Then Michigan would proceed to go on a run to seemingly put the Wildcats away. It was a constant cycle until the Wildcats finally took a 55-54 lead with 3:30 remaining.

Michigan would retake the lead when Derrick Walton Jr. scored his only points of the game as his two free throws put the Wolverines up 56-55. Again it seemed Michigan had taken control when senior center Alex Olah (who had 20 points and 13 rebounds) hit his fifth three-pointer of the season to make Michgan’s lead just 59-58. Then Michigan burned its last two timeouts trying to inbound the ball and when the Wolverines finally got it in to Duncan Robinson, Northwestern trapped him in the corner and forced him to travel. Yet to Northwestern Head Coach Chris Collins dismay the referees called a foul instead. Robinson, a 92% free throw shooter, proceed to split the pair and an Olah tip-in with 0.1 seconds left sent the game to overtime.

Yet again it looked like Michigan had put the game away up 72-70 after Zak Irvin’s clutch pull-up jumper from the elbow with three seconds left in overtime. Yet what should have been a game-ending steal on the Wildcats’ in-bound pass turned into a turnover when Walton Jr. stepped on the baseline with 0.6 seconds left to give Northwestern one more shot. Nathan Taphorn was able to get open but the three-pointer was short as Michigan survived, but the Wolverines won’t survive against Indiana if they play like they did today.


#12 Illinois 68, #5 Iowa 66

Iowa’s late-season slump didn’t end when it beat Michigan last weekend, it was merely taking a break. The Iowa team that had lost five of its last seven showed up in full force as the Hawkeyes went one and done in the Big Ten Tournament by losing to Illinois 68-66.

The Hawkeyes got major contributions from their stars as Peter Jok scored a game-high 29 points while Jarrod Uthoff added 21 points. It was the rest team that prevented Iowa from winning back-to-back games for the first time since the first week of February. While Uthoff and Jok combined for 50 points on 19/32 (59.4%) shooting, the other seven Hawkeyes to see the court combined for 16 points on 6/30 (20.0%) shooting and were also responsible for 13 of the team’s 18 turnovers. In fact, the Hawkeyes went 22:18 of in-game time between having a Hawkeye other than Jok or Uthoff score a single point.

Meanwhile Illinois is starting to play up to the potential many have been waiting to see from this team. Former Indianapolis native Jalen Coleman-Lands led the Illini with 17 points, 14 of which came in the second half. The Illini got a big boost early from Maverick Morgan, who had 12 of his 14 points in the first half.

Iowa looked dead with 7:02 left in the second half as the Haweyes trailed 63-52. Yet the pressure to closeout became too much for Illinois as the Illini started playing not to lose instead of trying to win. As a result, Iowa went on a 14-3 run to tie the game at 66 with 1:33 left. A Malcolm Hill 18-footer with 1:15 left proved to be the game-winner as it ended up being the last points of the game. Iowa had multiple chances to tie or take the lead, even getting a jump ball in its favor, but a turnover with four seconds left sealed the Hawkeyes’ fate as they head to the NCAA Tournament having lost six of their last eight.


#7 Ohio State 79, #10 Penn State 75

Yet another Indiana High School standout shined in Indianapolis as JaQuan Lyle finished with 22 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 assists as Ohio State was able to fend off Penn State 79-75. Marc Loving led the Buckeyes with 24 points, but it was Lyle who helped Ohio State overcome a 37-34 halftime defecit as he scored 16 of his 22 points in the second half.

Shep Garner led all scorers with 25 points as the Nittany Lions took a three-point lead into halftime thanks to excellent three-point shooting. Penn State went 7 of 12 from deep in the first half, but faltered in the second half by going just 2 of 10. The Buckeyes also accumulated a massive free throw advantage, taking 39 fouls shots to Penn State’s 21.

Ohio State now has a must-win matchup on Friday with the Michigan State Spartans if the Buckeyes want to keep their hopes alive for an NCAA Tournament at-large bid.


#11 Nebraska 70, #6 Wisconsin 58

I asked during my Big Ten Tournament Preview if a double-digit seed could win multiple games. The answer is yes as Nebraska joined Illinois as a double-digit seed in the quarterfinals. The Cornhuskers advanced after defeating Wisconsin 70-58.

Shavon Shields led the way with 20 points and just like against Rutgers he had help from the role players. Glynn Watson Jr. (8.4ppg) scored 16 points while Benny Parker (4.7ppg) added 12 points for the Cornhuskers. They also stifled the Badgers offense limiting them to 30.2% shooting on the game.

In addition to shooting a terrible 30.2% overall, Wisconsin only hit 4 of 20 (20.0%) three-point attempts. Vitto Brown carried the Badgers in the first half (13 of the team’s 21 points) but only scored three in the second half. Big Ten Freshman of the Year Ethan Happ led Wisconsin with 17 points (13 in the second half) but also committed a game-high five turnovers. Even the reliable Nigel Hayes had a disastrous game, hitting only 2 of 15 from the floor.

Unlike Iowa, this loss by Wisconsin looks more like a fluke than a sign of trouble, especially considering that the Badgers had won 11 of their last 13 games. Still, that doesn’t take away the disappointment of trying to defend their title of reigning Big Ten Tournament Champions.


Friday’s Games:

#1 Indiana vs #8 Michigan – 12pm EST (ESPN)

#4 Purdue vs #12 Illinois – 2:30pm EST (ESPN)

#2 Michigan State vs #7 Ohio State – 6:30pm EST (BTN)

#3 Maryland vs #11 Nebraska – 9pm EST (BTN)

The Ten Biggest Storylines Heading Into The Big Ten Tournament

Originally when I first received my credentials for the Big Ten Tournament, I thought my access was going to be restricted to just the team I cover (being the Indiana Hoosiers). However, after learning that I have access to all 13 games, I decided I may as well cover the tournament as a whole.

For the next five days I will be publishing daily recaps of the day’s events and I will also live-tweet all 13 games. You can follow me on Twitter @QTipsForSports for all the fun.

So before the fun begins, let’s take a quick look at the ten biggest storylines heading into the Big Ten Tournament:

  1. Michigan State Tries To Earn A 1-Seed: During a season of chaos and upsets, Tom Izzo’s squad is as close to a championship contender as any other team in the country. Yet despite having a winning record against the RPI top 25 and 11 wins overall against RPI top 100 teams, the Spartans are far from a lock as a 1-seed. That’s because not only did Michigan State not win the Big Ten, but finished two games behind champion Indiana. A conference championship is really the only thing missing from the resume and the Spartans can still claim the conference tournament championship this week, which should satisfy that last requirement for a 1-seed. Now it’s up to Izzo on whether or not grabbing a 1-seed is worth pursuing.
  2. Indiana Tries To Win Its First Big Ten Tournament: Even though the Hoosiers are tied for the most regular season Big Ten titles (22), did you know Indiana has never won a Big Ten Tournament? Granted the Big Ten was one of the last conferences to adopt a postseason tournament ( the first one being in 1998), but it’s still hard to believe the Hoosiers have yet to win one especially since roughly half of them have been in Indianapolis, which is practically a second home for the Hoosiers. After a 15-3 record against the conference this year, you’d think this would be the year they’d have the best chance to get their first.
  3. Does A Big Ten Regular Season And Tournament Championship Earn Indiana A 1/2-Seed?: Indiana might also need to win the Big Ten Tournament to grab a 1 or 2-seed in the NCAA Tournament, which in itself is pretty incredible when you realize this team was very much on the bubble at the beginning of February. Four more wins against the RPI top 50 later and the Hoosiers are almost a lock for a top-4 seed. How Tom Crean’s group does this weekend will determine if they move up even more before Selection Sunday.
  4. Can Either Maryland Or Iowa End Its Late-Season Slump?: While Indiana has seen its stock rise, both Maryland and Iowa have seen its stock plummet over the last few weeks. The Terrapins have lost four of their last six games while the Hawkeyes have lost five of their last seven games. Both have shown to be very talented teams capable of making a deep run in the NCAA Tournament, but that would likely require them to play well in the Big Ten Tournament to turn momentum in their favor. If either lose right away in Indianapolis, you’d be smart to avoid picking them when filling out your March Madness brackets.
  5. Ohio State And Michigan Both Need Multiple Wins To Help NCAA Chances: Even though Iowa and Maryland have struggled down the stretch, both are locks for the NCAA Tournament. That is not the case for Ohio State and Michigan. The Buckeyes have gone 4-4 in their last eight games while the Wolverines have gone 3-5 in their last eight games. In addition to not finishing the season strong, both have just three wins against the RPI top 100 and a ton of losses (Ohio State has nine vs RPI top 100 while Michigan has 11 vs RPI top 100). With the pool for the at-large bids getting crowded with all of the mid-major conference leaders who lost in their postseason tournaments, the Buckeyes and Wolverines will need to win multiple games during the Big Ten Tournament just to stay on the bubble come Selection Sunday.
  6. Will A Double-Digit Seed Win Multiple Games?: Upsets have been the norm in college basketball this season and some of the more surprising ones have happened in the Big Ten. Penn State has wins over both Iowa and Indiana, Illinois has a win over Purdue, Nebraska has a win over Michigan State, and Minnesota has a win over Maryland. All four of those teams are double-digit seeds and would have to beat teams of similar caliber to win multiple games this week. They’ve all done it before so it’s not out of the question it could happen again.
  7. How Will Wisconsin Respond To Starting The Big Ten Tournament A Day Earlier Than Usual?: Even though Greg Gard didn’t lead Wisconsin to yet another top four finish in the Big Ten, he’s done a great job taking over for Bo Ryan and deserves to be named the permanent head coach. That being said, after years of having off until Friday, how will the team react having to win one extra game? Will the fans remember to come root for their team on Thursday or will they forget out of habit? All joking aside, if the Badgers get to at least the semifinals  they might move up to a 6-seed, which is incredible for a team that had home losses to Western Illinois and Milwaukee to begin the season.
  8. Potential Indiana-Purdue Rematch In Indianapolis: There are plenty of great potential matchups in this year’s Big Ten Tournament, but when considering the location of the tournament (Indianapolis) and the likeliness of the matchup (both teams only need to win one game), an Indiana-Purdue rematch becomes the most intriguing. Due to unbalanced schedules caused by league expansion, the in-state rivals are no longer guaranteed to play each other twice a season. Recently both programs haven’t been good at the same time so the lack of a home-and-home likely prevented one team from sweeping the other. That wasn’t the case this year as both are ranked in the AP top 25 and are real threats in the NCAA Tournament which made the fact that they only played once this season a shame. That could be corrected if both win their quarterfinals matchups on Friday.
  9. Which Coaches Are Under Pressure To Perform Well?: Even though only one coach has a realistic chance of being fired after this season (that being Rutgers’ Eddie Jordan), there are still many coaches who will feel the pressure to perform at the Big Ten Tournament this weekend for varying reasons. Richard Pitino of Minnesota has been given a pass for this season, but after the recent suspensions and the loss to Rutgers, there’s definitely some pressure to end the season on a positive note. John Groce was just given a vote of confidence that he will return to coach Illinois next year but if the Illini get destroyed by Minnesota on Wednesday it may make his margin for error even less come next season. Missing the NCAA Tournament won’t put coaches like Thad Matta (Ohio State) and John Beilein (Michigan) on the hot seat but both would like to avoid any unnecessary pressure going forward. Lastly both Fran McCaffery (Iowa) and Mark Turgeon (Maryland) carry the burden of high expectations and with both teams stumbling towards the finish line, you can bet both want to avoid being considered underachievers with their talented squads.
  10. With The Final On Sunday, Could A Team Realistically Win And Cause An NCAA Selection Shakeup?: Did you know that in the history of the Big Ten Tournament, an eighth, ninth, 10th, and 11th seed have all made the championship game? With the Big Ten so top-heavy this year, if an eighth thru 11th seed made the Big Ten title game that would have huge ramifications for the NCAA Selection Committee. While the committee would probably place the eighth seed (who is Michigan) into the bracket regardless of outcome, ninth thru 11th (Northwestern, Penn State, and Nebraska) are nowhere close to being at-large teams and would cause the selection committee to make two vastly different versions of the final bracket in the case of one of those teams winning the Big Ten Tournament. Of course this is true of any year, but considering what has already happened this season, this possibility should not be ignored.

Three Positives And Three Negatives From Indiana’s Overtime Loss At Wisconsin

No word better describes the Indiana Hoosiers’ 81-78 overtime loss to the Wisconsin Badgers than “complicated.”

How complicated? It was a game that the Hoosiers (17-4, 7-1) should have won but at the same time deserved to lose. It was a back-and-forth affair where every time it looked like the Hoosiers made one too many mistakes, the Badgers (12-9, 4-4)gave Indiana another chance. So should Hoosier fans feel positively or negatively about the Hoosiers overtime loss at the Kohl Center? Well the answer is actually both. Here are three positive takeaways and three negative takeaways from the Hoosiers’ first Big Ten loss:

The Positives

  1. For more than a decade, the Wisconsin Badgers have been the Indiana Hoosiers’ kryptonite. No matter how good the Hoosiers were during a specific season, they’ve always had trouble with the Badgers, especially in the Kohl Center where IU has now lost 14 straight. For Indiana to consistently erase every Badger lead and have a chance at the end of regulation to win shows that the Hoosiers are close to breaking this streak. It could come as early as next season.
  2. The fact Indiana was so close to winning is even more incredible when you look at the boxscore. The Hoosiers committed 19 turnovers, fouled the Badgers 31 times, and missed more than a handful of shots near the rim. It wasn’t until that 19th turnover with three seconds left in overtime that one of the mistakes finally sealed Indiana’s defeat. There’s a certain mental toughness needed to hold up for that long and it seems the Hoosiers have that.
  3. Even though Indiana lost, Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell’s performance has to be one of the best so far during this Big Ten season. It will definitely be brought up when it comes to awards season. The numbers say a lot (30 points, 5 of 6 from three-point range, 7 rebounds, 2 steals), but they still don’t due him justice. On a night where Ferrell moved pass three all-time great Hoosiers on the career scoring list (Christian Watford, Kent Benson, and Damon Bailey), Ferrell played like an all-time great as he not only hit big shot after big shot, but he also completely shut down opposing guard Bronson Koenig, who was averaging 14 points per game on the season, holding him to 4 points on 1 of 9 shooting.

The Negatives

  1. As great as it was to see the Hoosiers overcome their mistakes, that doesn’t change the fact that Indiana committed way too many mistakes. Some of the turnovers were because of great Wisconsin defense but the majority of them could have been avoided, including quite a few unforced turnovers. Ferrell is likely to have more turnovers than his teammates because he is the team’s main ball-handler, but four turnovers is still a bit high. Then there was the five by Thomas Bryant and the three by Troy Williams. A lot of things have changed over the course of the season, but the one problem that is still the same is the tendency to commit a lot of turnovers and I don’t know if there is a real solution.
  2. The Hoosiers have done a magnificent job improving their defensive play over the last two months. There were some questions about whether or not the defensive improvement would hold when games got more competitive. For the most part the defense did fine, but there were definitely a few old habits that reappeared. Early in the first half, quite a few Badgers were able to find easy driving lanes and get good shots around the basket. You might not have noticed because during those early drives a Hoosier defender was able to recover quick enough to contest it. However later in the game, when fatigue started creeping, the Badgers found passing and driving lanes to the basket, but this time the common result was a Hoosier foul. It’s still an improvement over the matador defense from a few months ago but the Hoosiers still need to continue getting better.
  3. It’s weird to look at a team who just scored 78 points against Wisconsin and say that the team had trouble scoring, but IU’s beautiful ball movement offense was reduced to Ferrell running isolation plays with a little bit of Bryant added into the mix. Williams was reckless with his shot attempts, only making 4 of 14, and the bench couldn’t find one offensive contributor as they scored a total of 8 points. The Hoosiers need to get more scoring out of their bench, because when they don’t is when Indiana really feels the loss of James Blackmon Jr. the most.

Ferrell, Indiana Beat Wisconsin In Front Of ’76 Hoosiers

Losing in front of the last men’s college basketball team to not lose a game in an entire season was not an option for the Indiana Hoosiers. That only made Tuesday’s 59-58 win over the Wisconsin Badgers even more satisfying.

“You just want to go out there and play well and get a win for those guys when they’re here to watch,” said Thomas Bryant, “and just show that you’re representing them to the best of your ability.”

The Hoosiers (13-3, 3-0) suffered a huge offensive drought in the first half, a stretch that has resulted in each of the Hoosiers’ losses this season. However, this time the Indiana defense clamped down and prevented Wisconsin (9-7, 1-2) from generating too big of a lead. The result was a hard-fought defensive win for a team that looked like it was doomed to rely on getting into shootouts to win games.

“We don’t want to go into a game where like it’s only offense carrying us,” said Bryant. “We’re an offensive and defensive team, too.”

The members of the 1976 Hoosiers, watching from behind the Indiana bench, had to feel a little nostalgia watching this year’s Hoosiers refuse to fold when IU fell behind 22-13 with 7:49 left in the first half. The Badgers’ 15-0 run coincided with IU missing six straight shots and turning the ball over four times.

Then the Indiana defense tightened up. The Badgers offense made only one of their six field goal attempts and committed two turnovers during the final eight minutes. By halftime, the Hoosiers had narrowed the gap to just 28-24.

After honoring the 1976 team during halftime, the 2016 Hoosiers proceeded to play their best defensive stretch of the season. From the start of the second half to the time Wisconsin Head Coach Greg Gard called a timeout with 8:50 remaining, the Badgers hit just two of their 13 field goal attempts and committed five more turnovers. Meanwhile Assembly Hall was as loud as it has been all season as they celebrated the Hoosiers’ 40-34 lead.

It was at this point that Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell drove the Hoosiers home.

As the Hoosiers’ starting point guard of the last four seasons, Ferrell will go down as one of the most accomplished basketball players in IU’s storied history after he leaves Bloomington. Halfway through his senior season, Ferrell is 12th on IU’s all-time scoring list with 1,651 points. He’s already scored more points than Scott May or any other member of the 1976 team with the exception of Kent Benson and he’s only 89 points behind him. On IU’s all-time assists list, Ferrell is only 11 behind ’76 point guard Quinn Buckner for second and only needs 15 to grab first place.

Despite what the stats say, Hoosier fans will likely hold Benson, May, and Buckner in higher regard when its all said and done because of their other accomplishments (such as the undefeated national championship run), but Ferrell showed, with those players watching less than 30 feet away, that he too is one of the best to ever wear the candy stripe pants.

Ferrell took over like most great players do down the stretch as he scored 10 of his game-high 19 points in the final eight minutes, including the Hoosiers’ last six points. Those six points consisted of four ice-in-the-veins free throws and one left-to-right, off-balance, mid-range, fadeaway jumpshot. It was the type of shot that you only trust your leaders to make and he made it in a game he will never forget.

“(The win) definitely means a lot, and in my eyes that’s something I’m going to remember,” said Ferrell about playing in front of the 1976 Hoosiers. “To see us get a win in front of them, that definitely means a lot to me and definitely my team.”

These Hoosiers will try to improve to 4-0 in Big Ten play when they host Ohio State this Sunday at 1:30pm. The game will be on CBS for those who aren’t able to make it to Assembly Hall.


 

Stats From The Boxscore

  • O.G. Anunoby again scored 11 points, including three three-pointers. Anunoby is now a perfect 6 for 6 from deep in Big Ten play and is 7 for 9 from long range on the season.
  • The Hoosiers didn’t attempt their first free throw until 7:20 left in the second half.
  • Indiana didn’t go to the line much (10 free throw attempts) but capitalized when it did, making all 10 of them. Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell made six, Anunoby made two, and Colin Hartman made two.
  • Thomas Bryant scored all 10 of his points in the first half, which was huge considering the rest of the Hoosiers only had 14 before halftime.
  • Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig led the Badgers with 15 points each. Ethan Happ also added 10 points and eight rebounds for Wisconsin.
  • The last time the Hoosiers started the Big Ten season 3-0 was in 2012-2013, when Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo led the Hoosiers to their last Big Ten championship.