On Saturday afternoon, Indiana faced off against Louisville in the Big Ten’s non-conference finale for this season. It figured to be an exciting battle between two teams loaded with talent and postseason aspirations.
The game largely lived up to the hype early on as both teams kept it competitive. Louisville would get a big bucket from Donovan Mitchell and Indiana would respond in turn. However, Louisville went on a run in the final minutes of the first half and took a 39-27 lead into halftime. Indiana would never recover and fell by a 77-62 final.
Let's see what we learned from the game.
What We Learned
1. Indiana’s Backcourt Still Needs Some Work.
For the vast majority of the offseason, Indiana’s backcourt figured to be the team’s biggest question mark this season. Most believed the Hoosiers had the wing and frontcourt talent to get the job done, but nobody was sure how the backcourt would look. With Yogi Ferrell departing, there just weren’t an easy answers.
Things may have looked rosy after James Blackmon led Indiana to its season opening win against Kansas, but it’s now time to raise those preseason concerns again.
Indiana did get 10 points from Blackmon on Saturday, but the guards were otherwise underwhelming. In fact, Johnson, Jones, and Newkirk shot a combined 4-for-22 from the field and Johnson and Jones both finished with offensive ratings below 100. It was the kind of performance that negated much of the team’s other efforts.
2. Don’t Expect Indiana To Get An Elite Seed In March.
Maybe it’s a bit hyperbolic to try and make any seeding projections this early, but based on how things look, it’s hard to picture Indiana getting an elite seed in March at this point. Things can certainly change if the Hoosiers can go on a run like the team did last season, but there isn’t a huge margin for error at this point.
The reasoning for this projection is two-fold. First, those losses Fort Wayne and Nebraska are going to look rough in March. Overcoming one is certainly, but two (including one at home) creates a steep mountain to climb.
Indiana’s other issue is the team’s incredibly weak non-conference slate. Eight of the team’s 10 wins this season came against teams outside KenPom’s top 200 and half of those wins came against teams outside the top 300. In other words, 80 percent of Indiana’s wins this season are going to be worthless for RPI consideration.
Even if people dislike how the Committee evaluates teams, there’s no debating that statistics like RPI are going to play a factor. And with that in mind, Indiana’s shot at an elite seed may already be out the window.
3. OG Anunoby Is Gaining Steam.
Saturday was a rough one for Hoosier fans, but perhaps one positive sign was the play of OG Anunoby. Although he didn’t start the game, he played 30 minutes and finished with 14 points and a 116 offensive rating.
Of course, Anunoby wasn’t perfect (his free throw shooting and rebounding weren’t great), but he at least showed some signs he’s back on track after his injury earlier this season. If Anunoby can build on this performance in the weeks ahead, perhaps he can get the Hoosiers back on track.
Saturday’s matchup may not have the sizzle that many had hoped to see when the matchup was originally announced, but it was still an intriguing showdown between two talented squads. However, after the loss, Indiana will have some questions to answer in the weeks to come.