4 storylines for IU’s game at Rutgers #iubb

1. On the road again
At this point, Indiana should be used to beginning the Big Ten season away from Assembly Hall. The Hoosiers haven’t opened conference play at home since 2010, and this marks the second consecutive year that IU will play back-to-back road games before hosting its first league opponent on Jan. 5 against Wisconsin. The good news for the Hoosiers is that today’s game at Rutgers and Saturday’s matchup at Nebraska are both eminently winnable contests against two teams expected to finish in the Big Ten cellar.

2. Quick turnaround for Rutgers
An odd scheduling decision left Rutgers with only one full day to prepare for Indiana and its Big Ten conference opener. After playing their last game on Dec. 23 — a 72-64 win over Fairleigh Dickinson — the Scarlet Knights scheduled UMass Lowell as a tuneup opponent on Monday night in a game won by 23 points. Meanwhile, Indiana’s players had time to go home for Christmas after beating Kennesaw State on Dec. 22. The team returned well-rested to Bloomington over the weekend and left for New Jersey on Monday afternoon to begin on-site preparations.

3. Hoosiers heavy favorites
The perpetual rebuilding project that is Rutgers basketball continues for coach Eddie Jordan during his third season leading the program. The Scarlet Knights return seven letterwinners from last season, while welcoming seven newcomers. They’re the only program in the Big Ten to enter conference play with a losing record, and once again this season, Rutgers is expected to be the league’s worst team by a wide margin. College basketball statistician Ken Pomeroy doesn’t predict a single conference victory for Rutgers, which is slotted at No. 250 in his latest national rankings. When the lines opened Tuesday, Vegas tabbed IU as 12.5-point favorite

4. Robert Johnson’s impact during Big Ten season
Tom Crean has consistently lauded Johnson’s ongoing development over the last few weeks, crediting the sophomore guard as a vital piece to Indiana’s longterm success this season. Johnson has, at times, been Indiana’s best defender, earning his way into the IU starting lineup with his ability to play solid on-ball defense for consistent periods of time. Offensively, Crean says Johnson’s shooting and his vision are both improving. He has an assist-to-turnover ratio hovering around two-to-one, and he leads Big Ten players with a 56.1 3-point field goal percentage. Indiana is also undefeated over the seven games he’s started this season.