IOWA CITY, Iowa – It's been a week since Indiana last played a game, so that bitter taste of losing to Purdue is still hanging around. And now comes a real tough one, a battle with No. 4 Iowa on the road.
For the Hoosiers, Luka Garza is the biggest concern. The national Player of the Year to many had 38 points in the meeting a year ago, but Indiana won anyway. They'll have to be at their best to hang with the Hawkeyes, who have won five in a row and are legitimate national title threats.
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"I think they are one of the best teams in the country,'' Indiana coach Archie Miller said. "That's a given, but I also think they have a chance to not only win the Big Ten in an unprecedented year, but they also have an opportunity to compete for a national championship.
"They have all the parts that are needed and Coach (Fran) McCaffery and his staff have done an incredible job with this group and their development just in general.''
Here are the particulars on Thursday night's game:
- Who: Indiana Hoosiers (8-6 overall, 3-4 in the Big Ten) vs. Iowa Hawkeyes (12-2 overall, 6-1 in the Big Ten.
- When: 9 p.m. ET, Thursday, Jan. 21.
- Where: Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Iowa City, Iowa.
- Latest Line: Iowa is a 10.5-point favorite over Indiana, according to the DraftKings.com website as of 7 a.m. ET on Thursday. It's the first time the Hoosiers have been a double-digit underdog all season. The highest previous line was plus-9 at Wisconsin, where the Hoosiers covered in a double-overtime loss.
- Poll rankings: Indiana is not ranked. Iowa is the Big Ten's highest ranked team, checking in at No. 4 this week in both the Associated Press and Coaches poll. The Hawkeyes passed Texas this week, a team that beat Indiana earlier this year.
- Kenpom.com rankings: Indiana dropped eight spots to No. 33 in the Kenpom rankings after last Thursday's home loss to Purdue as five-point favorites. Iowa is ranked No. 3, behind only Gonzaga and Baylor. This is the 12th game out of 15 this season that Indiana has played someone ranked in the top-55.
- Series history: Indiana leads 103-78. Indiana is 10-5 in the series since 2012, and is 3-2 at Iowa during that time.
- Last meeting: The teams played just once last season, with Indiana beating then No. 21-ranked Iowa 89-77 on Feb. 13 in Bloomington. Luka Garza had 38 points in the loss for Iowa. The Hoosiers were led by Devonte Green that night. He had 27 points off the bench, making 7-of-11 three-pointers.
- TV: FOX Sports 1
- Announcers: Adam Amin (play-by-play) and Nick Bahe (color commentary)
- Radio: Indiana Radio Network
- Announcers: Don Fischer, Errek Suhr and Joe Smith
- Streaming: IUHoosiers.com/broadcast
Here are three things I want to see from the Hoosiers on Thursday:
1. Hold Luka Garza under ... 38?
Luka Garza was the Big Ten Player of the Year in 2020 and a first-team All-American. No one really ever found a way to stop him, and that was certainly the case for Indiana, too. He had 38 points in the February game in Bloomington, but the Hoosiers won anyway, 89-77.
Garza has been even better this year, averaging 26.9 points a game so far. He's scored 30 or more six times, and Indiana really doesn't have the size to match up with the 6-foot-11, 265-pound senior, so double teams will be necessary. The problem with that, of course, is that Iowa has plenty of other weapons who can expose all those double teams.
2. Match Iowa three for three
Iowa is the Big Ten's best team, at least according to our power rankings, so we know this is a huge challenge. The Hawks have been very good shooting the ball during this five-game winning streak, averaging 10 made threes per game.
Outside of hoping they are just cold, the Hoosiers have to match them three for three, which just isn't in their makeup right now, but it needs to be. During that same five-game stretch, for instance, Indiana has made just 30 of 104 threes, connecting at a 28.8 percent rate. (Purdue 3-18, Nebraska 9-24, Wisconsin 8-21 Maryland 4-22, Penn State 6-19) They need a double-digit night from three just to keep up, or it could get ugly in a hurry.
"Not being able to be organized and communicate and give great effort in transition has led to a lot of easy ones, easy threes,'' Miller said "If you just look at our 3-point field goal percentage defense in conference alone, you are not going to be able to be successful when you are giving up the amount of threes and at the percentage we have given up.
"It's not for lack of trying; it is for lack of fundamentals. It's for lack of, for a better word, doing your job. At the end of the day we have had a number of breakdowns and there is a lot of reasons for it.''
3. Play with passion and energy
Nothing drives a fan nuts more than seeing their team come out looking lethargic and not ready to play. That's happened too often with Indiana, which has been especially slow to cover shooters lately. That's two things – passion and energy – and they need to be 100 percent all-in against Iowa and get after them.
Say what you want about the makeup and personality of this team, but they need to play extremely hard right out of the gate. Miller and others have said it often, that once you see shots going in, you do get more comfortable and more relaxed, Well, Indiana needs to make Iowa feel uncomfortable, right from the get-go. Having Armaan Franklin back and closer to 100 percent after an ankle injury will help a lot.
"When it comes to Iowa, they present probably the greatest challenge you can have for a team that's trying to strive to get that defense back in order,'' Miller said. "Because if you are having some success against them, if you are able to withstand their barrage of stuff that they can do, hopefully that is a positive sign that we have gotten better.
"That is the big key for this team. The big key right now for this team is to sort of embrace this moment, get back to practicing really hard, get our guys feeling good about themselves in terms of or how they are working, and I think we'll see improvement.''
- FREE THROWS AN ISSUE: Archie Miller is growing increasingly frustrated with Indiana's ability to make free throws, because he knows most of his roster is filled with good shooters. CLICK HERE
- INDIANA LOOKS TO REGAIN DEFENSIVE EDGE: Indiana's defense has declined since Big Ten play started. The Hoosiers look to regain that on Thursday at Iowa. CLICK HERE
- TIPOFF TIME ANNOUNCED FOR INDIANA-IOWA: It's going to be a late one in Iowa City on Thursday night. CLICK HERE
- JOEY BRUNK COULD RETURN: Archie Miller doesn't want to shut the door on the possibility of Joey Brunk coming back this season. CLICK HERE
- ARMAAN FRANKLIN TIME OFF HELPS: Indiana's unexpected time off might just be a good thing for Armaan Franklin. CLICK HERE