This is the second in our series of posts that “preview” notable NCAA Tournament games in Indiana’s storied history. These are companion posts for our live rewatch series that we are doing in place of the cancelled 2020 NCAA Tournament.
Today, we will preview the second round (Round of 32) matchup of the 1998 NCAA Tournament: Indiana, the #2 seed in the West Region, against LSU, the 7th seed in the East Region.
The live rewatch and postgame show for the IU-LSU game takes place on Sunday, March 21st at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time. (Click here to access the YouTube replay of the game.)
Breaking down the matchup:
Indiana (24-6) vs. LSU (21-9)
- Indiana: Bob Knight (21st season)
- LSU: Dale Brown (20th season)
Indiana defeated LSU in the 1987 NCAA Tournament Midwest regional finals, 77-76. Many wonder if enough water has run under the bridge between Bob Knight and Dale Brown since that matchup five years ago.
The two have never been overly fond of each other, with Brown overly critical of Knight’s behavior during much of the 1987 contest between the two schools. Both coaches insist that the past is the past and that they are ready to focus on the game at hand.
Indiana probable starters:
- G. Chris Reynolds (Jr.)
- G. Damon Bailey (Soph)
- F. Calbert Cheaney (Jr.)
- F. Alan Henderson (Soph)
- F. Matt Nover (Jr.)
LSU probable starters:
- G. Maurice Williamson (Fr.)
- G. Jamie Brandon (Fr.)
- F. Clarence Ceasar (Fr.)
- F. Vernel Singleton (Sr.)
- C. Shaquille O’Neal (Jr.)
Indiana game notes:
The Hoosiers dropped two of their final three Big Ten contests to settle for second place in conference play, one game behind Ohio State. Indiana earned a 2-seed in the West Region of the NCAA Tournament, destroying Eastern Illinois in the first round, 94-55. Alan Henderson led five Hoosiers in double-figures with 19 points.
LSU game notes:
The Tigers finished 2nd in the SEC West division to finish the conference regular season. In SEC Tournament play, LSU downed Tennessee 99-89, then would go on to lose their second round game to Kentucky, 80-74. LSU would earn the 7th seed in the West Region and defeat BYU in their opening round matchup, 94-83.
What to expect — Indiana:
It’s no surprise that Indiana must do its best to limit the touches and scoring opportunities of LSU’s 7’1 All-American center, Shaquille O’Neal. Whether Matt Nover, Alan Henderson, or even Eric Anderson draw the assignment of guarding O’Neal, all must be able to stay out of foul trouble for the Hoosiers to have a chance to win. Knight has referred to O’Neal as “the most effective center since UCLA’s Bill Walton.”
The Hoosiers must ride on the consistent play of silky smooth forward Calbert Cheaney, who has been IU’s primary scoring threat all season. Dumping the ball down low to Henderson will be pivotal as well in hopes of getting O’Neal into early foul trouble.
What to expect — LSU:
The storyline all season with the Tigers has been going inside to the seemingly unstoppable O’Neal. Expect more of the same going into this contest.
In LSU’s NCAA first round matchup against BYU, O’Neal went for 26 points, 13 rebounds, and a NCAA Tournament record 11 blocks. Should Indiana double down on O’Neal, expect a kickout to three-point threat Maurice Williamson or capable shooter Clarence Ceasar.
A big question mark will be the status of senior starter Vernel Singleton who has been dealing with flu-like symptoms since the BYU game on March 19th.
If you want to know the result of the game and see the box score, click here.
Also, considering listening to the Hoosier Hysterics episode with Matt Nover, during which he discusses what it was like guarding O’Neal … his future castmate on Blue Chips.