March 01, 2016

After already clinching a share of its second Big Ten regular-season title in four seasons, Indiana has a chance to make sure it shares the honor with nobody else.

Iowa can remain in the hunt for its first since 1979 while ending a lengthy rut that started with a loss to the Hoosiers.

Nearly three weeks after downing the 16th-ranked Hawkeyes to open a daunting stretch, No. 12 Indiana can put the finishing touches on its 22nd conference championship when it visits Iowa City Tuesday night.

Indiana (23-6, 13-3) still had doubters following its 7-0 Big Ten start, especially with its final seven games featuring matchups against five currently ranked opponents.

That stretch started with a Feb. 11 visit from then-No. 4 Iowa, but an unranked Hoosiers team pulled out an 85-78 victory - its fourth in the last five games of this series.

Indiana followed with a 88-69 loss at then-No. 8 Michigan State three days later but has rattled off home wins over Nebraska and then-No. 17 Purdue and a road victory at Illinois.

Yogi Ferrell broke out of a shooting slump in the final two victories, and he scored 19 of his 27 points in the second half of Thursday's 74-47 rout of the Fighting Illini.

Iowa (20-8, 11-5) dropped its third straight with Sunday's 68-64 loss at Ohio State, giving the Hoosiers at least a share of the Big Ten title with two chances to claim that crown for themselves.

Of course, the final two challenges will come at Iowa and at home Sunday against No. 14 Maryland - the former coming on Senior Night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

"It's going to be like the Fourth of July, Christmas and New Year's all wrapped into one," Indiana coach Tom Crean told the team's official website. "We are excited. The trick is, everybody knows what is at stake and nobody is really talking about it. There is no difference in our level of work, it is as high as it has been."

Ferrell had shot 23.8 percent while averaging 11.8 points in his four previous games before posting 22.5 on 58.1 percent in the last two.

Indiana's win over the Hawkeyes is one of two in four chances against ranked teams this season, while Iowa is 5-3 against the Top 25.

While the Hoosiers have notched a share of their second Big Ten title in four years for the first time since the 1991 and 1993 seasons, the Hawkeyes now have merely an outside shot at their first in 37 years.

Iowa - which is 13-1 at home - has dropped its last three games by a combined 16 points. The latest loss might have tasted the most bitter as the Buckeyes rallied from a six-point deficit in the final four minutes, delivering Indiana at least a share of the Big Ten title and a blow to Iowa's chances.

''Everything went wrong,'' coach Fran McCaffery said. ''We didn't execute, we didn't defend, we didn't rebound.''

The Hawkeyes close the regular season Saturday at Michigan.

Leading scorer Jarrod Uthoff matched Mike Gesell's team lead with 16 points against Ohio State, but Uthoff didn't score in the final 12:32.

The senior forward scored 24 points at Assembly Hall last month, but the Hawkeyes' starters combined for every one of their points.

Indiana, meanwhile, won with balance even while its top two scorers, Ferrell and Troy Williams, combined to make only 7 of 24 shots. Seven Hoosiers scored at least seven points as the rest of the lineup shot 56.4 percent.

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