Indiana knows they will have had little time to dwell on their upset loss to the Illini.
A much steeper challenge looms Sunday against the 10th-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes.
Similarly, the Buckeyes are returning home from Ann Arbor following their own defeat against the #3 Michigan Wolverines in an epic overtime battle last Tuesday, 76-74.
Both teams will be looking to rebound in order to keep pace in the Big Ten.
As of Saturday morning, Michigan and Wisconsin had both played in their second straight overtime game after Ben Brust hit a heavily contested half court shot at the end of regulation in what turned out to be another instant classic. Wisconsin ended up winning in overtime, and the standings in the Big Ten got further muddied.
There could potentially be a five-way tie for first place in the Big Ten if Purdue upsets Michigan State, and Ohio State beats Indiana. Yikes.
Columbus and Value City Arena will easily be the most difficult and loudest environment to date for the Hoosiers, and the Buckeyes will be the first ranked team Indiana has faced on the road all season.
On paper as well, Ohio State represents one of the most formidable opponents that the Hoosiers have had to face.
Below, I’ve created tables of our Four Factors for Basketball Success to get good comparison of our two teams:
FOUR FACTORS: HOME vs. AWAY
|OHIO STATE (home)||54.66%||17.65%||33.80%||23.24%|
FOUR FACTORS: vs. BIG TEN
As the tables show, this represents a difficult matchup for Indiana. Ken Pomeroy has them listed as 1 point favorites, but Las Vegas and bettors have them as 1.5 point underdogs.
They’re better on the glass and at the line, but remember these statistics are also weighted in terms of importance (that doesn’t factor into any of my calculations, but readers should note that there’s a stronger positive correlation regarding team success for effective field goal percentage than there is for free throw rate, but each component is still very critical).
Once again, Indiana’s ability to take care of the ball will be paramount to their success.
More than likely, the Hoosiers will need to register an eFG% of at least 50% and limit their total turnovers to 10 or less if they want to win on Sunday.
Unfortunately, it’s easier said than done.
Without a doubt, this game represents Indiana’s hardest trial to date, and their performance will truly be an indication of their championship merit. Their ability to respond in an extremely hostile environment following a devastating road loss only three days prior will show the Hoosiers’ true grit.
In the very least, the Buckeyes will be playing full tilt in an attempt to force a 4-way tie for second place, with the incredible possibility of that five way tie with each team 8-3 in the conference.
Following the battle against the Buckeyes, however; Indiana returns for two home games against Nebraska and Purdue, which are virtually certain victories, setting up them as the potential conference front runner heading into their final five games, four of which are against ranked opponents.
Prediction: Ohio State 74, Indiana 69