4 storylines for Indiana’s game against Iowa

1. Handling the bye week. By the time they take the court for Tuesday’s tipoff with Iowa, the Hoosiers will have had nearly an entire week to tweak some of their problem areas and readjust before beginning a highly important final week of the season. On the other side, Iowa enters Bloomington as winners of four in a row, and the Hawkeyes have six total road wins this season — good for second-most in the Big Ten. “I think we can use this to our advantage,” IU point guard Yogi Ferrell said. “I think going into these last two home games, we can have the most energy we’ve had all season. We know that these last two games for us are big, so we want to go out there with the most energy we’ve had all year.”

2. An answer for Iowa’s frontline. White earned Big Ten Player of the Week honors after combining for 50 points and 23 rebounds last week and making a game-clinching steal in an overtime win at Penn State. With his ability to play inside and out, White presents a mismatch for an IU defense that hasn’t been willing to shut down much of anything as of late. Jarrod Uthoff presents additional problems in Iowa’s frontcourt, while centers Adam Woodbury and Gabriel Olaseni combine to average a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds per game. “It’s not a game where matchups make a lot of sense because of their size, so we’ve just got to do the best we can with that,” IU coach Tom Crean said.

3. Continued IU defensive woes? The Northwestern loss exposed the ever-mounting problems Indiana faces with its transition and halfcourt defenses. A look at the most recent defensive efficiency ratings at KenPom.com shows Indiana is ranked No. 231 out of the 351 Division I teams in the country, with the worst effective field goal percentage defense (53.5 percent) and two-point percentage defense (54.3 percent) in the Big Ten. Part of Indiana’s self-evaluation over its six-day layoff allowed the Hoosiers time to look at what is going wrong on that end of the floor. A hallmark of IU coach Tom Crean’s approach to defense this season has been switching between man-to-man and zone, and often times doing so as the shot clock winds down in the middle of a single possession. While that has worked at times, it has also led to miscommunications and breakdowns to the degree that this IU team can ill-afford late in the season.

4. Indiana without Collin Hartman. His presence alone probably wouldn’t have been the difference in IU’s loss at Northwestern, but the Hoosiers are certainly better as a whole with their do-it-all sophomore forward. The problem is, Hartman isn’t likely to play against Iowa while he recovers from a bone bruise in his left knee. It’s an injury that has kept Hartman out of practice since he suffered it on Feb. 22 at Rutgers, and it’s an injury that has no clear timetable for a return. “We miss him,” IU coach Tom Crean said. “We don’t just miss the fact that he’s the leading 3-point shooter in the league, percentage-wise. We miss his game. We miss his spacing that he brings. You can put him in all kinds of different situations offensively and defensively. You can switch with him. He fights, and we miss him. We really do miss him. I wouldn’t hold out hope right now for having him Tuesday night.”