After a first round bye in the Big Ten Tournament, Indiana faces the Ohio State Buckeyes this Thursday at 12:30 pm EST. This is the second meeting between the teams this season and when they last met, the Hoosiers lost in a heartbreaker 52-55 at home. After a big three point shot by CJ Jackson, Andre Wesson “stole” the game from Indiana with a last minute turnover and secured a basket with 20 seconds left to elevate the Buckeyes to victory.
However, much has changed since the last meeting between the two teams. Indiana is currently sporting a 4 game win streak against strong opponents including a ranked Wisconsin and Michigan State team. The prior thoughts of Indiana being a fringe tournament team have been put to rest and now, the debate is real on whether to include them come Selection Sunday.
Ohio State has struggled near the end of the season unlike the Hoosiers. Losing three in a row to Purdue, Northwestern and Wisconsin has been concerning, but they are still considered an at-large bid in the latest Bracketology projections as a 12th seed play-in game. They are going to be playing with the same level of intensity as the Hoosiers as nothing is guaranteed on if they will keep their seed with a loss on Thursday.
One of the reasons Ohio State has struggled was due to the suspension of Kaleb Wesson for the stretch. Now he is reinstated by Coach Chris Holtmann, the Buckeyes will be back with their leading scorer and rebounder for the postseason. The Buckeyes have dearly missed this asset for their team as the void was never adequately filled by the remainder of the roster. C.J. Jacksonstepped up in K. Wesson’s absence with 22 points against the Badgers, but it did not end up being enough in the heartbreaking loss in overtime.
Both teams are now at full strength heading into the postseason unlike their prior meeting where Indiana was still struggling with lingering injuries. The inconsistency to the roster and growing pains led the Hoosiers down a rough stretch in conference play, but Indiana has proved to all that they can beat top teams…consistency is potentially the one lingering concern. However, many analysts agree that a win against Ohio State will lead to a ticket for March Madness.
Per Kenpom, the Hoosiers are ranked No. 42 and the Buckeyes No. 44. Kenpom gives Indiana a 52% chance of winning as well in this close match up.
Meet the Buckeyes
- Andre Wesson – 6’6″/ 220 lbs. / JR / Westerville, OH. Leads the team in blocks per game along with his brother Kaleb. He also hits 30.9% of his threes.
- Kaleb Wesson – 6’9″/ 270 lbs. / SO / Westerville, OH. He’s the leading scorer with 14.6 ppg. He also grabs 6.7 boards per game, shoots about 73% at the line, and is 51.1% from the field. Returning from his suspension for this game against the Hoosiers.
- Luther Muhammad – 6’3″/ 185 lbs / Fr / Jersey City, NJ. He’s one of the team’s premier sharp-shooters. He shoots 36.4% from deep and is second on the team in minutes per game at 28.2.
- C.J. Jackson – 6’1″/ 175 lbs. / RS Jr / Charlotte, NC. He leads the team in minutes per game at 30.5, he’s second in scoring at about 12.1 ppg, and he leads the team in assists and steals. He played junior college ball at Eastern Florida state before transferring to OSU.
- Keyshawn Woods – 6’3″/ 205 lbs. / SR / Gastonia, NC. Woods is the sixth man that has seen some recent time being a starter and is OSU’s best free throw shooter.
- Musa Jallow – 6’5″/ 200 lbs. / So / Bloomington, IN. Even though he starts, he only averages 14.2 mpg.
- Kyle Young – 6’8″/ 205 lbs. / So / Massillon, OH. Young averages 22 mpg which is solid for a bench player. He’s second in rebounding behind Kaleb Wesson.
- Duane Washington Jr. – 6’3″/ 190 lbs. / Fr / Grand Rapids, MI. He plays about 17 minutes per game off the bench and contributes close to 7 ppg.
- Joey Lane – 6’1″/ 180 lbs. / Sr / Deerfield, IL.
- Jaedon LaDee – 6’9″/ 230 lbs. / Fr / Houston, TX.
- Justin Ahrens – 6’5″/ 180 lbs. / Fr / Versailles, OH.
- Danny Hummer – 6’0″/ 175 lbs. / RS Jr / Upper Arlington, OH.
There are currently no significant injuries for the Buckeyes. Kaleb Wessonwill be returning to the court after his suspension for the Buckeyes.
Jerome Hunter is out for the year for the Hoosiers.
What to Watch for:
- The Return of Kaleb Wesson. With the return of K. Wesson, we will see how the Ohio State team responds to facing a hot Hoosier squad. Ohio State does not have any momentum going into this game, but it can all be reset with a dangerous, well-rested big man threat. Indiana guarded him well last game, only allowing to 10 points. The game may be decided down in the paint with Juwan Morgan’s ability to control the game. When K. Wesson gets hot, it will be difficult for Indiana to stay in the game.
- Defense may be the key to a Big Ten Championship. Indiana has been more known for their defense this season and making teams week after week struggle with finding a rhythm. Last week, we saw a different fast-paced attack for the Hoosiers against Illinois. Archie made it a point that he expects better defense and that it is an area of improvement for the Big Ten Tournament. We will see what adjustments will be made to the team’s approach to the Buckeyes offense.
- Another Neutral Site Showdown. Both Indiana (1-0) and Ohio State (2-0) are undefeated on neutral sites this season. Indiana is definitely the more “home” team this game proximity wise, but Indiana has a history of under-performing in the Big Ten Tournament – tallying only one victory in the last three years (against Iowa two years ago). Despite not having a great history in the Big Ten Tournament, Indiana is riding as hot as any team in the conference right now, and assuredly no team prefers to face them – especially Michigan State who would be Indiana’s next match up pending a victory for the Hoosiers against Ohio State.
- The Building Pressure with the Season at the Brink. The nation will be watching Indiana come Thursday and adding their two-cents on whether to include Indiana on Selection Sunday. Is six Quad 1 wins enough if the Hoosiers fall short Thursday? Seven wins? A third win against Michigan State? Ultimately, it will be up to the Hoosiers and securing a win against Ohio State and Michigan State will almost guarantee a ticket to March Madness.
- Senior Standouts & the Freshman. Juwan, Fitzner, McRoberts could be facing their final game of the season. Additionally, Romeo is likely playing his final game(s) of his college career too. This realization will drive Indiana to push the extra mile to win where every game is potentially sudden death for the Hoosiers. Regardless, all graduating members of the team have contributed immensely to the success of the season for a program that is still trying to find its previous solid footing among the basketball elite programs.
How to Watch
|Date||Thursday March 14th|
|Time||12:30 PM EST|