TV Schedule: Saturday, Jan. 23, 12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2
Stadium: Assembly Hall (Indiana)
The Indiana Hoosiers are arguably the best team in the Big Ten right now. Of course, teams like the Iowa Hawkeyes would likely argue against that one, but Indiana does stand at 6-0 in conference play. The same thing goes for Iowa.
Next up, the Hoosiers will take on the Northwestern Wildcats, which is a team that has never — I repeat, never — made the NCAA tournament. They have their eyes set on that prize this season.
Indiana will do battle with a 16-3 record, and will also be playing at home … as if it needed another reason to be the favorite in this one. Northwestern enters with a 15-5 record overall and 3-4 Big Ten record.
If the Wildcats plan on dancing in 2016, they have to get that conference record above .500. More importantly, they have to capture some signature wins. Luckily for them, the Big Ten is loaded with teams that will make the dance, so they will have plenty of opportunities to capture those resume-boosting wins.
Indiana has had a wild year. The Hoosiers entered the season with serious hype, but then they lost three games early on and also lost scoring machine James Blackmon Jr. Since then, Tom Crean‘s team has been doing some flying under the radar. While doing just that, Indiana has managed to win 11 games in a row.
Meanwhile, Northwestern cruised through non-conference play. Its only loss came against the North Carolina Tar Heels … and then conference play started. The Wildcats have now lost two contests in a row, and that streak will likely go to three, four and then five. After Indiana, this squad will take the court against Michigan State and Iowa.
To make a long story short, Northwestern will either sink or make some noise. Playing against a Yogi Ferrell-led team, I am predicting the Wildcat boat to go under water.
PREDICTION: Wildcats 71, Hoosiers 83