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After a rough last few weeks, Indiana looks to start conference play against Northwestern this Saturday December 1 at SSAH.

At one point this season, Indiana was playing with vigor and confidence that allowed us to cruise to a comfortable 4-0 start. Remember the time when we thought we had a stout defense? Where we dominated the paint? That stride has been lacking ever since traveling to Fayetteville, AR.

We now are 5-2 and start conference play against Northwestern at home. This will be the true litmus test to how our team can deal with adversity and the fork in the road for the season. Let’s be honest here, Indiana was not going to win in Durham. No way that we were going to come out there alive. If we did, we would have deserved the championship trophy right then and there.

Remember that this is the Duke team that blew out Kentucky by 34 points a few weeks ago. We lost by 21 in Cameron while Duke beat them at a neutral site. Duke hasn’t lost a non conference game in Cameron since 2000.

Let’s move on.

Romeo Langford and Juwan Morgan have been the two stars these past several games. A two player team will not carry us far in conference play and the likes of Phinisee and Durham will need to start to gain momentum again. Romeo and Juwan have seen an expected large increase in their playtime that is warranted and expected. Let’s hope they stay healthy and Romeo’s thumb is not affecting his game.

Archie Miller must get his team back in order as the visiting Wildcats look to start their season 7-1, with their current sole loss to Fresno State in a blow out. The new Big Ten in December tradition brings a Top 50 ball club to Bloomington.

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Meet the Wildcats

Departing Players

  • Scottie Lindsey – 6’5” / 175 lbs / Guard / Senior – Hillside, IL. Last year’s leading scorer with 15.2 ppg. Currently on the Grand Rapids Drive, a G league affiliate to the Detroit Pistons.
  • Bryant McIntosh – 6’3” / 177 lbs / Guard / Senior – Greensburg, IN. Went undrafted last year and is a member of the Leuven Bears in Belgium.
  • Gavin Skelly – 6’8” / 219 lbs / Forward / Senior – Westlake, OH.
  • Isiah Brown – 6’2” / 175 lbs / Guard / Sophomore – Lynnwood, WA. Transferred to Grand Valley
  • Rapolas Ivanauskas – 6’9” / 210 lbs / Forward / Freshman – Barrington, IL. Transferred to Colgate and is now a starter for the Raiders averaging 16.4 ppg, 10.6 rebounds.

Projected Starters

  • Vic Law – 6’7” / 185 lbs / Forward / Senior – South Holland, IL. The current point leader for the Wildcats, averaging 17.9 ppg.
  • Ryan Taylor – 6’5” / 187 lbs / Guard / Senior – Gary, IN. Current starter for the Wildcats. Started his career for Ohio then Evansville and now Northwestern. Has always been a starter.
  • Dererk Pardon – 6’8” / 235 lbs / Center / Senior – Cleveland, OH. Recorded a double double last game vs. Georgia Tech. Has 10+ points in each game so far. Starter last year and this year.
  • A.J. Turner – 6’7” / 190 lbs / Forward / Junior – Mt. Clemens, MI. Starter for the Wildcats over the last 5 games. Sporadic in his productivity. Transferred from Boston College.
  • Anthony Gaines – 6’4” / 205 lbs / Guard / Sophomore – Kingston, NY

The Rotation

  • Miller Kopp – 6’7” / 210 lbs / Forward / Freshman – Houston, TX. Top 100 recruit in 2018. Seeing a modest amount of playtime this year as one of the starters.
  • Pete Nance – 6’10” / 210 lbs / Forward / Freshman – Akron, OH. The other top 100 recruit from 2018 for coach Chris Collins.
  • Barret Benson – 6’10” / 240 lbs / Center / Junior – Willowbrook, IL. A key rotation big for the Wildcats that sees a little over 10 minutes per game, but is average 4.3 rebounds per game.
  • Ryan Greer – 6’2” / 185 lbs / Guard / Freshman – Atlanta, GA.
  • Jordan Ash – 6’3” / 185 lbs / Guard / Senior – Bolingbrook, IL.
  • Aaron Falzon – 6’8” / 225 lbs / Forward / Junior – Newton, MA.
  • Charlie Hall – 6’5” / 210 lbs / Forward / Junior – Los Angeles, CA
  • Tino Malnati – 6’3” / 190 lbs / Guard / Sophomore – Northfield, IL.
  • Ryan Young – 6’10” / 235 lbs / Center / Freshman – Stewartsville, NJ. Three star recruit that has not yet seen playing time.

Expectations for the Wildcats

There’s a specific tier of Big Ten teams that currently are terribly hard to predict. On one hand, they all have impressive records with one or two great wins. On the other hand, they may also have a questionable loss or two.

Indiana and Northwestern both are arguably in this tier that makes it very hard to predict if they are truly good clubs or not.

The Wildcats have strung together two impressive power wins against Utah and Georgia Tech, but also lost by nearly twenty points to Fresno State in their visit to California.

While predicted to return back to the tournament by most pundits last year, Chris Collins had a disappointing, under-500 season where senior Bryant McIntosh led an underperforming Wildcats team. The team finished 15-17 with a first round exit in the Big Ten tournament to Penn State. No postseason opportunities.

The team has had a relatively hot start in the non-conference slate, but has not yet matched up against a top 25 Kenpom team like Indiana. The team with 4 freshman and 2 sophomores will be visiting their first true road environment the season in a blistering Assembly Hall that is expected to be packed for freshman phenom Romeo Langford.

Both Archie and Chris Collins have trained their squads to be heavily stringent on the defensive end of the court and it will be an interesting clash of two teams that are in the Top 35 in adjusted defense according to Kenpom.

Indiana has the edge, but with their recent performances, the game may be closer than most Hoosier fans would like. The team needs to wake up, and wake up fast given that this kicks of a set of four games that ends with Penn State (away), Louisville (home), and Butler (neutral court).

What to Watch For

  1. Short-term memory – With so many games left on the schedule, the most important mentality for Saturday’s date with the Wildcats is to release all lingering symptoms from the trip to Durham. New team, new game, and Big Ten conference play. These upcoming games are what matter and it’s time for the Hoosiers to forget the troubling string of recent games and to get back to the Marquette-game-level of energy.
  2. Guards back in action – Devonte Green and Zach McRoberts both saw minutes during the Duke game, but they seemed to have not have yet dust off some of the cobwebs. Devonte Green did not have the same level of comfort handling the ball and distributing. Zach McRoberts, well, was not quite the hustling, diving, and defending McRoberts that Indiana fans recognize. After missing games, jumping back straight into the deep end against Tre Jones, RJ Barrett, Cam Reddish, and Zion Williamson is not a fun experience. These two in particular need to back in full as soon as possible.
  3. The dueling shooters of Ryan Taylor and Romeo Langford – Two native Indiana shooting guards with the highest minutes per game for both teams will take the floor on Saturday. Ryan Taylor, who was once an Indiana target, eventually picked Northwestern to spend his sole graduate transfer year. With Taylor being the leading score for the Evansville Aces last season at over 20 points per game, expect a fun scoring battle between the two.
  4. Getting the offense rolling again – Out of Northwestern’s 7 games, they have held opponents to 61 or less points in 5 contests. The Wildcats are currently ranked 31st in Kenpom in adjusted defense – just a few spots lower than the Hoosiers who sit at 27th in adjusted defense. Can Assembly Hall help amp up the team and finish shots left at the rim in recent games?
  5. Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers– Indiana has averaged 17.8 turnovers per game since their match up with Daniel Gafford and the Razorbacks. For reference, the Hoosiers only averaged 11.9 for the entire season last year. To have a post-season potential, IU absolutely must get this turnover issue under control and it starts with Northwestern on Saturday. If these troubles continue to snowball, Archie Miller is going to have a very tough time in Big Ten play.

Injury Watch

Indiana will likely still not have the services of redshirt sophomore forward Race Thompson (concussion) and freshman forward Jerome Hunter (leg).

For Northwestern, Aaron Falzon is sidelined with an ankle injury and it is unclear if he will return Saturday.

How to Watch

DateSaturday, December 1
Time1:00 PM EST
RadioHoosiersTV Audio

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