4 storylines for IU’s game vs. Illinois

1. Steady Hoosier hands
Against an Illinois team that strives to muddle play, the Hoosiers can’t afford the turnover issues that plagued them throughout the first two months. To its credit, IU fared better with its ball security across the past four games, averaging 12.2 errors during that span. The Hoosiers posted 18 turnovers in each of their two meetings with the Illini last season.

2. No room for free throw woes
Illinois’ high-pressure defense has a trade-off, and this is it. No high-major conference team fouls quite like the Illini. They are committing an average of 22.1 fouls per game, putting opponents on the line at an increasingly high rate. That’s good and bad news for the Hoosiers, who’ve struggled to find consistency at the line all season. Indiana has shot 70 percent or better on free throws in only three of its 13 games. Its free throw percentage of 63.5 ranks 13th in the Big Ten.

3. Slow going for Illinois
The Illini are struggling to find traction in Brad Underwood’s second season as head coach. Of its four victories, Illinois’ highest-rated win came against East Tennessee State, which is ranked No. 96 at KenPom.com. The Illini continue to slide in the wrong direction, entering Bloomington on the heels of an overtime loss to Florida Atlantic at home. At No. 113 in the KenPom ratings, Illinois is the lowest-ranked Big Ten team at the moment — lower even than Rutgers at No. 110. Illinois has lost six straight in Bloomington and 12 in a row against teams ranked inside the top 25.

4. Further establishing confidence
The Hoosiers have every right to feel good about what they accomplished during the first two months of the season. IU completed its first undefeated calendar month (6-0 in December) since winning all seven games it played in November 2012. The Hoosiers have five wins over teams rated inside the KenPom top 50 and enter play ranked No. 21 in the AP poll and No. 20 in the NET rankings. For Indiana, a win Thursday would send it to its third 3-0 start in conference play since the 2012-13 season.

15 comments

  1. No Phinisee puts us in danger of losing this one….Illinois is getting stronger at a fast rate with Underwood at the helm. Their guards are very talented. We may have an advantage inside, but don’t take this Illini team for granted.
    The ball pressure is much higher with a coach who stresses tenacity …Coupled with not having Phinisee to steady us in the backcourt while maintaining our overall stamina/poise …could be problematic.
    We are going to need big games from the role players. Maybe Romeo will save the day.

    1. “Illinois is getting stronger at a fast rate.”

      Based on what?

      They have looked pretty bad as a basketball team.

      1. Georgetown just spanked Butler …Illinois only lost to Georgetown by 8 points. They lost to a very strong Gonzaga team by 6 points. Didn’t really study their entire schedule, but they battle. You can be guaranteed of a lot of pressure, strong guard play. They are building a recruiting pipeline to Chicago ….Wouldn’t underestimate the quality level of the coach they now have as well. I think their future is much brighter than it was under Groce (now at U. of Akron…Hello, Husky Tom!).

      2. Archie in last night’s press conference:

        “This will be a very difficult game for guards.”

        That’s basically what I’m saying. ….Illinois has a lot of depth and speed at the position. We’ll likely get some of the hardest ball pressure we’ve seen thus far. It will be a challenge without Phinisee. I hope it’s not as big a challenge as what I’m prepared to expect. This will not be the same old Illinois team of the last decade. Though we did have some problems with Illinois even with our highest ranked teams under Crean…I seem to recall one close game flushed down the toilet due to repeated struggles at inbounding the ball.

        We don’t have our steadiest point guard available. I’ll be pleasantly surprised if we smooth sail through this one….

  2. Forgive me for going off-topic a bit but…

    a. Patrick Ewing will soon be one of the best coaches in college basketball. He is a natural. His team is under his complete command. I really….really like that Georgetown team. Good dark horse for March Madness. They just spanked the dickens out of Butler at Hinkle tonight. Malinowski on Georgetown is one to watch.

    b. Butler is sure struggling…They’ve lost their complete mojo. Alford…anyone? Don’t laugh. It could be a very interesting ballsy move. Butler’s current coach looked out of his league compared to Ewing.

  3. Butler as good of tradition as they have is going to have a tough way to go in a major conference year in and year out as things level over the years. Just a few years ago they were the Bulldogs that battled for upsets. Then, the Horizon and jumped over a bigger conference to even a more prestigious bigger conference they are in now.

  4. Marquette lost by 20 to St. John’s last night….Villanova suddenly looks about as uninspired and talent depleted as UCLA…The Big East is very up and down.
    Not sure if our Marquette and Butler wins were so spectacular.

  5. They are #19 so I suppose somebody thinks they’re pretty decent. Guess they just moved into a new arena as well. He certainly could be doing worse. He could be Steve Alford.

  6. ^^^Great call. You should really start following along. At least your vocabulary is strong. Maybe you have one Glass eye? Can you tap dance?

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