The Indiana Hoosiers look to regain their waning March momentum as they host the Iowa Hawkeyes at home on Thursday evening.
TV Schedule: Thursday, February 13, 2020, at 8:00 PM ET, BTN
Location: Assembly Hall, Bloomington, Indiana
The past four games have an opportunity to define the Indiana Hoosiers’ 2019-20 season, and not in a good way. A home game against Iowa is the program’s best chance to turn things around after an incredibly rough stretch.
Indiana enters Thursday’s game on a four-game losing streak, dipping from two games over .500 in Big Ten play to two games under .500 in Big Ten play. The first three of those defeats were against Maryland and at Penn State and Ohio State, justifiable losses. But things became dicier on Thursday, as Bob Knight’s return to Assembly Hall was not enough to push the Hoosiers over Purdue.
The Hoosiers turned the ball over 14 times against Purdue. A more pressing concern, however, was how much Indiana struggled on the fast break, failing to score a single field goal while pushing the tempo all game. Archie Miller’s team will need to improve upon that to get behind Iowa’s defense, which is penetrable (giving up 71.7 points per game).
Speaking of the Hawkeyes, they’ve been difficult to get a read on recently. The No. 21 team in the country just destroyed Nebraska, 96-72. Prior to that, however, they were on the receiving end of a blowout, surrendering 104 points on the road to Purdue.
Recent oddities aside, it’s clear this Iowa team is one of the most talented in the conference. Luka Garza is officially one of the best players in the country, averaging 23.1 points and 9.9 rebounds per game. He should be named an All-American by the time the season comes to an end.
His supporting cast deserves a little more recognition, though. Against Nebraska, guard Joe Wieskamp poured in 30 points, a new career-high for the sophomore. He’s one of three Hawkeyes averaging at least 11 points per game this season, joining Garza and guard CJ Fredrick. The team also has a potent three-point attack, with six of their top seven scorers shooting at least 31 percent from three-point range; when they got hot from the field, they became one of the country’s most lethal teams.
Archie Miller had some glowing things to say about Iowa during his weekly radio show, calling them “the best team that we’ll play at home this season” (h/t 247 Sports). There’s a clear level of respect for the Hawkeyes, but that should also mean there will be a strong amount of preparation ahead of a critical game for Indiana, who sits squarely on the NCAA Tournament bubble.
This is the only time these two teams will meet in the regular season, but they faced off twice last year, with Iowa winning both competitions by single digits, with the game in Iowa going to overtime. The year prior to that, Indiana swept the season series – feast or famine.
The Indiana Hoosiers need to feast for their postseason lives on Thursday … and they will.
Prediction: Indiana 70, Iowa 69