In today’s edition of Banner Morning:
• Gameday info for IU-Arkansas.
• The main reason why the first meeting between these two teams may not tell us much about the rematch.
• What recent NIT history suggests is the likely outcome for this game (hint: it’s not good for Indiana).
• 5 IU players were named Academic All-Big Ten.
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Welcome to another edition of Banner Morning. We’re two days away from Indiana’s rematch against Arkansas.
In NIT news …
Indiana will face Arkansas for the second time this season in the next round of the NIT. The game will be played this Saturday and will tip at 12:00 p.m. Eastern Time. It will be televised on ESPN.
Once again, tickets are $20 and general admission, and parking is free.
You will recall that the Hoosiers lost to the Razorbacks 73-72 back in November. But it may be tough to look back at the game for clues about how the rematch will go. And that’s because the leading scorer on each side will probably be out.
Romeo Langford had one of his most productive games of the season at Arkansas, with 22 points, 10 boards, and 5 assists. He also had four turnovers on a day when the Hoosiers committed 18 as a team.
Romeo continues to deal with back spasms and is day to say. Hopefully the extra few days of rest will allow him to be ready to go, but won’t know until Saturday.
On the other side, Daniel Gafford is definitely out, as he elected to sit out the NIT to prepare for the NBA draft.
Gafford, the 6-11 center, was unstoppable in that game. He scored 27 points on 12-15 shooting and added 12 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 2 steals. And while Juwan Morgan and De’Ron Davis combined for 25 points and 12 rebounds of their own, it was Morgan’s Gafford-induced foul trouble that helped Arkansas to build a 10-point lead in the 2nd half that Indiana never fully recovered from.
Without Gafford, Arkansas’ tallest player is 6-8 — but that doesn’t mean Indiana’s bigs can relax. In their NIT-opening win over Providence, Reggie Chaney scored 14 points on 7-9 shooting and blocked 7 shots.
This Arkansas team is very young — the 13th-youngest in the country — but they have a couple of good young guards in Mason Jones and Isaiah Joe, and have now won four of their last five. They fit the mold of the kind of surging, hungry 4 and 5 seeds that have given 1 seeds all kinds of trouble in recent NITs.
Get this: over the last three years, #1 seeds in the NIT are 10-2 in the first round but just 2-8 in the second round. And a #4 seed has won each of the last three NITs.
So while the Hoosiers played better in the second half on Tuesday, and will have the home court advantage on Saturday, recent history is not on the Hoosiers’ side. IU will almost need to revert to their pre-Big Ten Tournament selves to win this one and keep marching toward New York.
And in player news …
Five Indiana basketball players were among the school-record 55 IU athletes who were named Academic All-Big Ten this season. Congratulations to Vijay Blackmon, Johnny Jager, Zach McRoberts, Justin Smith, and Quentin Taylor for earning the honor.
For the links mentioned in this edition of Banner Morning, visit assemblycall.com.
We’ll be back tomorrow with a new edition of Banner Morning. Until then, keep your elbows in and your eyes on the rim, and go Hoosiers.