Four storylines to Indiana’s game at Illinois #iubb

1. How did Indiana use the last four days of practice to prepare for life without its big man? Hanner Mosquera-Perea’s knee injury came only 24 hours before Indiana was set to tip off against Penn State on Tuesday night, giving the team little time to adjust and work with its modified look. The challenge now becomes the Hoosiers’ ability to make up for Mosquera-Perea’s presence and length under the basket with a group of players that has struggled to keep the ball in front of them this season.

2. Indiana has struggled mightily at the State Farm Center. It’s a new group and a new year, but Illinois’ homecourt advantage always seems to give the Hoosiers a little pause. Two years ago, a No. 1 ranked Indiana squad fell in the final seconds and last year Rayvonte Rice dropped 29 points on the Hoosiers to help Illinois to an overtime victory to kick off conference play. Rice is out with an injury today, but Indiana still expects a fight from a wing-heavy group of Illini. Illinois, which is 8-0 at the State Farm Center this season, already claims a big home win over No. 14 Maryland this season and has won 11 of the last 12 games against Indiana on its home floor.

3. Who gives Indiana a spark off the bench? Walk-on Ryan Burton provided Indiana with a huge boost from his reserve role on Tuesday, entering a 51-51 tie and grabbing three big offensive rebounds to help IU take a 12-point lead midway through the second half. That kind of impactful bench production is a trend Indiana would certainly like to see continue this afternoon. Emmitt Holt has filled that niche at times this season, as has Collin Hartman, who made his first career start against the Nittany Lions this week. Now would be a good time for freshman Max Hoetzel to step up and provide some bench help in they different positions he can fill.

4. Can Indiana continue defending the perimeter? For all of the Hoosiers’ defensive shortcomings, they’ve been one of the best 3-point percentage defenses in the nation. Indiana’s guards have helped it hold opponents to 29 percent from beyond the 3-point mark, which ranks IU at No. 28 in Division I. The Hoosiers have been even better since the start of the conference season and lead the Big Ten with a 24 percent figure through their first four league games. Aaron Cosby, who leads Illinois with 32 3-pointers, Kendrick Nunn and Malcolm Hill can all go off from the perimeter if given the opportunity.