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Wisconsin men’s basketball season preview: Indiana

The Hoosiers have a new head coach and, it would seem, a whole new positive vibe heading into the season.

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Media Days Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports

Team: Indiana Hoosiers
Location: Bloomington, Ind.
Conference: Big Ten
Head coach: Mike Woodson (first season)
2020-2021 record: 12-15 overall, 7-12 B1G

Top returning players: 6-foot-9, F, Trayce Jackson-Davis, 19.1 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 1.4 apg; 6-foot-8, F, Race Thompson, 9.1 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 1.4 apg; 6-foot-1, G, Rob Phinisee, 7.1 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 2.9 apg

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament-Rutgers vs Indiana
Trayce Jackson-Davis is back for another season with the Hoosiers.
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Top newcomers: 6-foot-7, F, Miller Kopp (11.3 ppg, 3.0 rpg last season, 35.7% 3P career) transfer from Northwestern; 6-foot-3, G, Xavier Johnson (14.2 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 5.7 apg) transfer from Pitt; 6-foot-5, G, 4-star Tamar Bates (Kansas City, Kan.) No. 30 recruit in 2021 class; 6-foot-9, C, 4-star Logan Duncomb (Cincinnati, Ohio) No. 72 recruit in 2021 class

2020-2021 review: The Hoosiers have been going through a bit of an existential crisis as a program for many years and last season was no exception. IU hasn’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 2016, which also happens to be the last year they won more games than they lost in conference and won a conference title.

The Hoosiers were a poor shooting and scoring outfit last season, finishing No. 11 in the Big Ten in 3P%, No. 10 in eFG%, and No. 11 in scoring offense. Head coach Archie Miller was let go at the end of last season, which saw the Hoosiers lose their last six games and miss the postseason again. A bunch of players, including All-B1G talent Jackson-Davis, entered the transfer portal and things looked bleak in Bloomington.

2021-2022 preview: However, things are looking up for IU and it is all thanks to one man: new head coach Mike Woodson. The former Hoosier basketball player has plenty of NBA coaching experience but hadn’t done any time in the college ranks so many were worried about his lack of recruiting chops.

Well, the first thing he did was re-recruit five Hoosiers out of the transfer portal, most notably Jackson-Davis, to give this Indiana team more promise than any in recent memory. He also hit the transfer portal hard and brought in former Northwestern wing Miller Kopp, 7-footer Michael Durr from USF, excellent passer Xavier Johnson from Pitt and sharpshooter Parker Stewart from UT-Martin.

Two 4-star freshmen will also join the squad with Tamar Bates (former Texas commit) being the most tantalizing. My sources (Indiana pals online) are high on Bates and think he could compete for B1G Freshman of the Year. The Hoosiers also still have blue-chipper Khristian Lander, who came to Bloomington last year with a lot of hype, but didn’t live up to it.

NCAA Basketball: Indiana at Ohio State Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

If IU can improve their shooting they should be pretty close to being a lock for a return to the NCAA Tournament. They’ve already got a proven player they can dump the ball inside to for him to get a bucket, now they just need to work on the supporting cast to resume their position at the top of the conference.

Games vs. Wisconsin: Wednesday, Dec. 8, Madison, Wis., Kohl Center, BTN, 6 p.m. CT; Tuesday, Feb. 15, Bloomington, Ind., Assembly Hall, ESPN/ESPN 2, 8 p.m. CT