The Indiana Hoosiers basketball team hits the road tonight for their biggest test of the season. IU sits at 6-1 before they take a trip out east to face No. 4 Syracuse.
Last week, IU rebounded from its first loss of the season in a lopsided victory against Evansville. The Hoosiers shut down one of the best shooting teams in the country on their way to a 77-46.
Evansville was shooting 57-percent from the field before they came to Assembly Hall. IU held them to 29-percent, a number so low it dropped their season average under 50-percent. The Hoosiers also out rebounded Evansville 58-30 including a 19-9 offensive rebounding advantage.
Jeremy Hollowell came off the bench to lead the team in scoring with 18 points. Hollowell had been struggling recently, but coach Tom Crean insisted that wasn’t the reason he came off the bench.
Yogi Ferrell chipped in another 10 points, and Noah Vonleh notched another double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds.
It was a solid rebound win against an inferior team, but the lack of scoring from the starters is troubling. Especially before such a big matchup. IU still hasn’t found a reliable option from the three-point line, and was just 4-for-16 against Evansville.
The Pomeroy ratings have the Hoosiers ranked 30th, with the 90th ranked offense but the 10th best defense. The Hoosiers are just outside of the AP Top 25 but are 23rd in the USA Today Coaches Poll.
Dec. 3rd – Indiana at No. 4 Syracuse, 7:15pm
The Hoosiers will open up the Big Ten/ACC Challenge at the Syracuse Orange. IU fans will remember that Syracuse was the team that knocked the Hoosiers out of the NCAA Tournament. The Orange are undefeated and fresh off winning the Maui Invitational after beating then ranked No. 16 Baylor.
Many have called this a rematch, but the reality is far from it. The Hoosiers lost four of their starters and are fielding an extremely young team. The Orange lost three of the teams four leading scorers in Brandon Triche, James Southerland, and most importantly Michael Carter-Williams.
Pomeroy currently ranks Syracuse 13th with the 6th best offense and 39th defense. They are shooting 45-percent from the field and averaging nearly 77 points per game.
This is likely going to be a low scoring game. Syracuse likes to slow the pace of the game and still utilizes the 2-3 zone that wrecks havoc with offenses. Last season, the zone led to Ferrell being benched as the then freshman was clearly rattled by the aggressive defense. Ferrell is more experienced now and has likely been training to beat this sort of defense. The problem is that IU will be forced to start at least two freshmen and it could lead to more than the Hoosiers average 16 turnovers per game.
I don’t see how the Hoosiers can win this game. They would need everyone to play a near perfect game, and that seems unlikely. Inexperience is death when facing the Orange 2-3 zone defense, and the Hoosiers have that in spades. Will Sheehey and Ferrell will have revenge on the brain, but they’ll likely be the only ones. Unless Crean has unlocked the secret of beating the zone (and become a much better X’s and O’s coach in the offseason) then the Hoosiers are going to have another rough game.
Playing UConn to a standstill on a neutral site is one thing, but defeating a superior Syracuse team at the Carrier Dome is another beast. IU drops this one with Syracuse running away with the game late.
Side note: Is it weird that Syracuse is now in the ACC? Doesn’t seem right, but the college conferences are becoming a mess.
Dec. 7th – Indiana vs North Florida, 7:30pm
The Hoosiers will have a chance to rebound with a visit from the Ospreys. North Florida is 5-4 and has a game at Alabama before they visit Assembly Hall.
Pomeroy ranks North Florida 234th in the country with the 171st offense and 288th defense. IU will likely cruise to victory and take out its frustrations from the recent loss on the Ospreys.
Expect IU to run away with this one early.
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