4 storylines for IU’s game against Notre Dame #iubb

1. Yogi Ferrell vs. Demetrius Jackson
Saturday brings a matchup between these point guards, two of the nation’s best. While IU has sought to run its offense through all five players in the starting lineup, Notre Dame runs through Jackson, who’s off to an outstanding start this year. Jackson posted his first career double-double two weeks ago against Stony Brook, finishing with 19 points and 10 assists. He and teammate Steve Vasturia are the only two Fighting Irish players who have scored in double figures in all nine games. Since returning from Hawaii, Ferrell has been equally fantastic. During his past five games, Ferrell has averaged 18.6 points on 52.5 percent shooting, while totaling 29 assists against only eight turnovers.

2. Fighting words
On Thursday, Notre Dame coach Mike Brey claimed ownership of the state’s most consistent college basketball program. Brey openly questioned why more casual fans are enamored with IU and touted his 3-1 record in the Crossroads Classic as evidence of his school’s superiority against the likes of Purdue, Butler and IU, which beat the Irish in the event’s inaugural season. On Friday, IU coach Tom Crean refused to address Brey’s comments. “We just want to win the game tomorrow,” Crean said. Whether or not Brey’s confident words will be used as bulletin board material for IU is unclear. Hoosiers Nick Zeisloft and Robert Johnson told reporters Friday afternoon that they had not yet heard Brey’s remarks.

3. IU’s defensive improvement
Against the likes of Morehead State, IPFW and McNeese State, Indiana showed signs of addressing the defensive shortcomings that have been its undoing at critical times this year. But for defensive improvement to truly manifest, IU must begin earning consistent stops against Power 5 programs that contain similar size and skill sets. Notre Dame qualifies. According to KenPom.com, Notre Dame has the second-most efficient offense in the nation, so any defensive gains the Hoosiers are able to make against the Irish will be taken seriously.

4. Indiana’s collective health
Finals week came at a good time for the Hoosiers, who used the rare downtime to study, refresh and refocus ahead of their showdown with the Irish. Perhaps most importantly, it bought time for players like Thomas Bryant and Robert Johnson to rest and address their nagging injuries. Bryant’s foot has been an area of concern since the start of preseason camp, though Crean only recently revealed on his weekly radio show that Johnson has been playing hurt. Crean refused to reveal the nature and severity of Johnson’s injury, but said it was nothing that was keeping him from playing and practicing with the team. Johnson also did not elaborate on the injury Friday, other than indicating he was suffering from general soreness.