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Speak Your Truth: Indiana men’s basketball Q&A

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Our pals from Crimson Quarry drop by to discuss the Indiana/Wisconsin rematch.

NCAA Basketball: Indiana at Wisconsin Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 15 Wisconsin Badgers men’s basketball team hits the road on Tuesday night for a matchup with the Indiana Hoosiers at Assembly Hall. UW has won seven of their last 10 games at Assembly Hall, but it is still a tough place to play and IU will be looking for revenge from earlier this year AND an NCAA Tournament resume boosting victory.

Since the last game between these two teams was over two months ago we decided to check in with our pals from Crimson Quarry to see what we needed to know about the Hoosiers before Tuesday night’s game. Here are their answers to our questions!

The Hoosiers are in the midst of a pretty brutal portion of their schedule and have lost three in a row. What has gone wrong over their past three games?

*audible sigh*

Indiana fell to Illinois for a myriad of reasons. Illinois has had chemistry, Brad Underwood knows what his players can do and knows how to exploit that. Trayce Jackson-Davis (No. 23 below) got into foul trouble early, but it wasn’t the worst news for Indiana. Kofi Cockburn had some trouble in the first half against Race Thompson and Michael Durr, who kept him from getting to the rim or creating opportunities on the perimeter.

Indiana v Northwestern Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

The same cannot be said for the second half, when everything simply fell apart. Cockburn was able to beat Jackson-Davis, a power forward working against a true center. Jackson-Davis has just had trouble against the top big men in the conference, which bodes rather ill for Indiana’s chances down the stretch. But now that Cockburn was going, he was able to create openings on the perimeter which is ultimately what truly doomed Indiana. Well, that and its own inexperience relative to that of Illinois.

Indiana’s loss to Northwestern is a weird outlier. A game they most likely would have won without the suspensions of five players. Weird one for the resume. The Hoosiers were simply too worn down to have much of a chance in the fourth quarter, so it’s difficult to grade this one compared to the others.

Now, the loss to Michigan State was honestly expected on my part. A tough away environment against a solid shooting team under the direction of one of the best coaches in the sport? Just a recipe for failure. It doesn’t help that 25 of Michigan State’s 76 points came off of free-throws. Blame the refs all you want, but it’s difficult to say a 15-point loss was solely due to questionable officiating. Michigan State made those free-throws, shooting 89.3%, while Indiana left 11 points in the air with a 59.3% performance. Yuck.

Race Thompson has been playing particularly well lately. What does he bring to the team and how does he help take some of the pressure off Trayce Jackson-Davis?

Race Thompson is the quintessential glue guy. He’s been around this team for a while during Archie Miller’s tenure, but he’s truly blossomed under Mike Woodson, improving in just about any statistical category you can cite. He forms a tandem with Jackson-Davis that’s really made this team the defensive unit that it is while providing an occasional spark on offense.

When will the Liver King acknowledge Miller Kopp and TJD’s videos?

Perhaps he will if Miller Kopp journeys to the mountains for offseason training like Piccolo from DragonBall Z and returns with an appropriate beard.

@millerkopp

Make sure yall are keeping it primal out there @Brian Johnson AKA Liver King #fyp @TJD

♬ original sound - Mill

Kind of a two-parter here. Will the Hoosiers make the NCAA Tournament and how will Mike Woodson’s first season be viewed if they don’t?

I think they should, barring a total collapse late in the season. Indiana isn’t the vaunted men’s basketball powerhouse of yore, but the Indiana name still has some influence. This should be a program that makes the tournament on a consistent basis at minimum, the ongoing drought is a definite stain. It would be ideal if Woodson made the tournament in his first year, but anyone who tells you the year is a failure if Indiana doesn’t make it is being silly.

Indiana v Iowa Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images

Remember, there’s a tournament drought for a reason. Indiana has some great players and some good ones. Woodson didn’t inherit a bad roster situation, but Indiana has proven that it isn’t a top Big Ten team. It can beat those teams, yes, but so can many other Big Ten teams.

Sometimes things take time. Woodson had never coached at the college level until this year and can boast wins over Ohio State and Purdue, a rival Indiana hadn’t beaten in years. That means something and people are paying attention. He’s also put most of the recruiting concerns to rest with solid to great gains in the portal and from high school.

The sun will rise the morning after Selection Sunday. And it’ll do so in Bloomington over a men’s basketball program in a better position than it was a year ago, tournament or not.

Who comes out of Assembly Hall with the win and who will score the most points for the Hoosiers?

Going to preface this a bit. Wisconsin is a very good team and has been for a while, whereas Indiana is still building. If Indiana wasn’t on a significant losing streak I believe the Hoosiers would have a pretty good chance of winning this one. Indiana can boast the top defense in the Big Ten against a Wisconsin offense that’s left some to be desired.

But a losing streak coupled with player suspensions can severely dampen a team’s mood, so I think the game will ultimately depend on which team can really bring the energy. Indiana has Assembly Hall, but will fans and students flock to the arena on a Tuesday night, especially if Indiana lost last time they were there? I just can’t say for sure if that’ll happen.

Indiana v Maryland
Xavier Johnson
Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

Nevertheless, I think Indiana can pull through for a (close) home win. I think either Thompson or Xavier Johnson will help lead the Hoosiers to victory. Johnson was in a bit of a rhythm prior to Indiana’s loss to Illinois and Thompson was Indiana’s leading scorer in the loss earlier this season. Don’t expect one player to significantly stand out though, I expect scoring to be decently spread out.