Indiana University: A Victory Over North Carolina Needed Before Big Ten Play
For the first time since January 29th, the University of Indiana put up triple digits against a basketball opponent. The unfortunate team at the other end was Ball State, who lost the contest 101-53. The win by Indiana follows up a close overtime win against Georgetown (82-72). The win also helped Indiana stay unbeaten with a 6-0 record.
Indiana was number one in the polls last week and will likely keep that designation with a loss by number two Louisville over the weekend. However, Tuesday’s primetime ACC/Big Ten Challenge matchup with number nine North Carolina could spell trouble for the Hoosiers.
Sunday’s victory lifted Indiana to an average of 88.7 points per game, ranking them fourth in the nation. The team’s field goal percentage of 53% ranks ninth in the country. North Carolina, who is 5-1 on the year, ranks in the top ten in points per game (85.3), rebounds (46.0) and assists (19.2).
A win over North Carolina could be the key to the first half of Indiana’s season. After the matchup with the Tar Heels, Indiana plays unranked teams including: Coppin State, Central Connecticut State, Mount St. Mary’s, Florida Atlantic and Jacksonville. The team faces a rising Butler team prior to Big Ten play as well. Including the overtime win over Georgetown, Indiana has beat all of its opponents by double digits, with an average margin of victory of 32 points.
Indiana could use a perfect record entering Big Ten Conference play, as the conference is at the toughest level in recent memory. Indiana has two matchups against Michigan State, two against top five Michigan and two against top five Ohio State. Indiana also has matchups against rising Big Ten teams Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota. I doubt any team makes it through the Big Ten season with a perfect record.
Last year, Indiana took a perfect 12-0 record into Big Ten play, including a huge win over then number one Kentucky. However, the team struggled during conference play with an 11-7 record to finish 23-7 overall on the season.
On Sunday night, Indiana saw contributions from its bench and role players. Thirteen different players scored against Ball State. Will Sheehey led ten different scorers with 19 points and six rebounds in 19 minutes. Preseason player of the year Cody Zeller scored 15 points and had eight rebounds in 20 minutes of play.