Indiana’s Road through the Big Ten Tournament
By: William Padgett III
On Sunday, Indiana cemented themselves as the 5th seed in the Big Ten Tournament. This means they will have to play through all of the rounds because only the first four receive first round byes.
At 2 o’clock on Thursday (unless the Game 1 runs long), the Hoosiers will square off against a depleted Penn State team. With only 2 players averaging double-digit points per game, the Nittany Lions will have a tough time keeping up with the heating-up Hoosiers. In their first meeting, the Lions kept it close with the final being 88-82. However, once in Bloomington, they had difficulty stopping IU on the offensive end and lost 73-54. I don’t see the Hoosiers struggling too much in this matchup as long as they continue the defensive intensity they have shown over the last 3 games. IU- 75 Penn State- 62
Should the Hoosiers take care of business, they will face the defensive powerhouse of Wisconsin. In the only matchup this season, the Badgers held their home court, winning 57-50 over IU. Since then, the Hoosiers have only lost 2 games, and have stepped up on the defensive end. And with Christian Watford and Jordan Hulls once again playing with confidence, I see a close game that could get ugly down the stretch if Wisconsin falls victim to their offensive woes that have held them back all season. IU- 57 Wisconsin- 50
Here is where things get interesting. If the Hoosiers win their first two games, they will most likely face Michigan State. This will probably be one of the best games of the tournament. With Big Ten Coach of the Year Tom Izzo and Player of the Year Draymond Green, the Spartans have a share of the regular season Big Ten title. However, how they bounce back from losing an important player in Branden Dawson will be telling, as will attempting to bounce back from back-to-back losses against the Hoosiers and the Buckeyes. This game will most likely be decided in the middle of the second half, seeing as how both games between these two were, at times, streaky. IU- 72 MSU- 65
If the Hoosiers make it to the final game, they will play either OSU or Michigan, both of whom have split games with the Hoosiers. And, with the momentum IU will have built getting to that game, it will be a very interesting game to watch, but the outcome is too far off to tell. Getting to the semifinal will be an accomplishment enough for the Hoosiers going into the NCAA tournament and will bring them the confidence to make a good run. Should the Hoosiers win the Big Ten Tournament, watch out New Orleans. The Hoosiers might be knocking on the door of the Big Easy.
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