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Game Preview: Indiana vs. Mississippi Valley State

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The Hoosiers open the 2014-15 season this evening in The Assembly Hall. What should you expect to see tonight?

Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

Opponent: Mississippi Valley State University (Itta Bena, Mississippi)

Date / Time: Friday, November 14th - 7pm Eastern

Location: The Assembly Hall, Bloomington, IN

TV: BTN

Indiana has two exhibition games in the books and now it is time to tipoff the real season. Indiana will remain with a very short bench as Troy Williams, Stanford Robinson, and Emmitt Holt will still be suspended for the first two regular season games. Devin Davis also remains in the hospital and obviously won't be available to play. Will Indiana have enough depth to get through the start of this season unscathed? We'll start to get our answers tonight against MVSU.

Getting to know Mississippi Valley State

The Delta Devils are part of the SWAC conference and were downright awful a year ago finishing 9-23 overall and 5-13 in conference play. According to the preseason KenPom ratings - they aren't expected to very good this year either ranking #346 out of #351 Division I teams. MVSU also has a new head coach this year in Andre Payne, who will try to get the Delta Devils back in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2012.

The Delta Devils will feature a familiar face for many Indiana High School basketball fans - Tyler Corely - who graduated from Lawrence Central  High School in Indianapolis before going to Barton Community College for a couple of seasons. He transferred to MVSU and led the team with 21 points in an exhibition win over Stillman College on November 3rd.  At 5'10", he could be a prime candidate for drawing the Kevin Yogi Ferrell assignment.

Corely isn't the only 5'10" player with talent on this team as he will be joined by Jordan Washington, who is the third leading scorer as far as returning players are concerned.  He scored 19 points in the win over Stillman to go along with 4 assists and 3 steals. The top two returning scorers are the 6'1" Jeffrey Simmons and 6'3" DeAngelo Priar who averaged 10.6 and 10.5 points per game respectively a season ago.

What to Watch For

How will Indiana fare on the boards? MVSU has only two players taller than 6'7", so the Hoosiers are not going to be at a height disadvantage in this one even with all of the missing players. However, Indiana was beaten badly on the boards by a Division 2 team in Indianapolis on Monday night, so it will be interesting to see if there is any improvement there. Troy Williams is likely going to have a large impact for this team as far as rebounds are concerned, but we will have to wait until November 20th to see that play out.

Which Nick Zeisloft will show up? He will almost certainly get the start again given the limited options available, but Indiana really needs Zeisloft to be consistent this season. He had 24 points in the exhibition opener against Northwood, and followed that with a 4 point and 0-6 shooting performance against Indianapolis. It isn't fair to Zeisloft to hold him accountable for scoring 20 a night given that he only averaged 6.9 points a year ago at Illinois State - but Indiana needs to get consistent shooting from him. If he can come in and hit a trio of three pointers a night, it will be a large pickup for this Hoosier team.

How will James Blackmon Jr and Robert Johnson open their official college careers? Each has had one stellar performance in the two exhibition games. Blackmon went for 26 points and 7 rebounds against Northwood and Johnson scored 15 to go along with 10 rebounds against Indianapolis. It is a lot to ask to place the success of this team on these two freshmen, but they (especially Blackmon) are going to drive where this team goes this year with how consistent they are able to play at this level.

Projected Starting Lineups

Indiana

Miss Valley State

G

6'0"

Kevin Yogi Ferrell

G

5'10"

Tyler Corley

G

6'3"

Robert Johnson

G

5"10"

Jordan Washington

G

6'4"

James Blackmon Jr.

G

6'1"

Jeffrey Simmons

G

6'4"

Nick Zeisloft

G

6'3"

DeAngelo Priar

F

6'9"

Hanner Mosquera-Perea

F

6'6"

Dwain Whitfield

Prediction

With four players, who were expected to contribute just two weeks ago, out of this game, it is hard to find a better opponent to play in this circumstance than MVSU. In fact, there actually are only 5 other teams that would be better according to Ken Pomeroy. Indiana should have no trouble on the boards in this game because for one of the few times this season - they will have the height advantage. While the MVSU players do have some talent and might stay with Indiana for the first 10 minutes or so of the game, it is hard to see how they can battle Indiana for 40 minutes and succeed. There is just too much remaining talent on the Indiana side as they will still be starting four players ranked in the Top 40 coming out of high school.

Final Score - Indiana 91  MVSU 61