A team not many expected to by tied for the Big Ten lead at this point is Indiana. But yet, the Hoosiers have put together a solid Four-Game win streak enhanced with a convincing win over Maryland on Thursday. They’ll take on a feisty Ohio State win, looking to get a meaningful home win.
Indiana didn’t look like a great team in non-Conference play, losing at home to Eastern Washington and getting blown out by Louisville, but they did have a couple nice wins filtered in there. The Hoosiers opened Big Ten play with a road win at Nebraska, but were destroyed by Michigan State in their next Game. since that, they’ve won Four straight including wins vs. Ohio State and Maryland.
Things haven’t been as pretty for Ohio State, who didn’t really have a great non-Conference win with losses to Louisville and UNC. The Buckeyes were already swept by Iowa, which isn’t all that terrible, but still a home loss is never good. So far, OSU doesn’t have a nice, solid win and that’s what they’ll be looking for against Indiana on Sunday and vs. Maryland in their following Game.
Looking at the first time these teams played, Indiana grabbed the lead in the first half with a 24-8 run and never looked back. In that Game, neither team shot well from distance (OSU 3-21, IU 4-18). Even then, the Hoosiers had 15 turnovers compared to the Buckeyes five. However, Indiana won the battle of the boards and shot a better percentage from the field, although not by much (40% to 34%). It was still the difference in a closely fought Game.
Interesting enough, Indiana is coming off a 19-point win in which they shot 15-of-22 from three, which means they have to come back to earth in this one.
On the road, the Hoosiers will need to rely on the composure of Yogi Ferrell to pull off a road upset. Ferrell stepped up against Maryland (7-of-8 from three) after he struggled to shoot from the floor in their previous three wins. The bigger factor may be freshman phenom James Blackmon Jr. In Indiana’s last loss, he was a miserable 1-of-14 from the field with Four fouls, easily his worst Game of the season. When Blackmon struggles, so do the Hoosiers. He had 18 points and seven boards in the first meeting.
Ohio State hasn’t played extremely well at home this year, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if they turned it up a notch in these next two Games. One player that could make a difference is transfer Anthony Lee, who played only Four minutes in that previous Game. On Thursday against Northwestern, he played 22 minutes.
Obviously for the Buckeyes, freshman D’Angelo Russell is the man to watch. since shooting 3-of-15 for 13 points in the first Indiana meeting, he has gone for at least 21 points in each of the next three Games, including 33 points, 7 boards and 6 assists against Northwestern on Thursday. Shannon SCott hasn’t done much on the offensive end lately and he’ll be needed mostly for his defense on Yogi Ferrell.
X-factors include the play of guys like Sam Thompson for OSU and Troy Williams for IU. In a matchup of even teams, the difference in a Game like this could easily come down to home-cOurt advantage, which is exactly what happened the first time around.
Our Prediction – Ohio State by 13