If there were ever a better time to hate Duke basketball, now would probably it for Indiana Hoosiers fans. Many of us can remember just a calendar year ago when Duke took it to the highly praised Hoosiers at Cameron Indoor Stadium in one of the more embarrassing losses in Indiana basketball’s recent history.
Between now and then the Hoosiers missed the NCAA tournament, forfeited the opportunity to play an NIT home game, lost in the first round of the NIT, changed head coaches, lost three of their top four scoring threats (Thomas Bryant, O.G. Anunoby, James Blackmon Jr.), and landed three top-100 recruits for 2018.
Meanwhile, the Blue Devils fell in the round of 32 to South Carolina (who lost in the Final Four to Gonzaga), lost Jayson Tatum, Luke Kennard, and Harry Giles to the first round of the NBA Draft (Frank Jackson went with the first pick in the second round), posted the No. 1 recruiting class in 2017, reclassifying potentially the future No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft to play this season, and have shown out against the NCAA’s best talent early on in this season.
Both Indiana and Duke having an interesting 2017.
That being said, the lingering sour taste of last year’s loss is now accompanied by the Blue Devils who are the number one team in the country heading into Assembly Hall on Wednesday night. It seems like we say it every season, but it looks as the though Duke may have the most talented roster since the 2014-15 Kentucky Wildcats.
So how will the Indiana Hoosiers be able to combat the country’s best college basketball team and avoid a potentially disastrous night in front of their home crowd? Let’s find out, as well as some other notable story lines to be aware of heading into this game.
By The Numbers
- Duke has grabbed 369 total rebounds, the most by any team in the NCAA this season. The Blue Devils are averaging 46 rebound per game, seventh best in the NCAA which makes it safe they are among the elite level rebounding teams. The Hoosiers strong performances from De’Ron Davis and Juwan Morgan to have any shot at the glass.
- Through the first eight games of Duke’s season, the Blue Devils have the most three-point attempts by any team in the ACC. Surprisingly, Duke is only shooting 34.1-percent from behind the arc. The Indiana Hoosiers are fifth-worst in the NCAA in terms of three-point defense, allowing opponents to shoot 44.8-percent.
- In the two losses Indiana suffered this season, senior guard and number one scoring option Robert Johnson shot a combined 1-for-8 (12.5-percent) from behind the arc and only averaging 8.5 points. In the four wins this season, Johnson shot 10-for-19 (52.6-percent) from three averaging 15.8 points. If the Hoosiers want any shot at keeping this one close, they are going to need reliability and consistency on the offensive end.
- Duke freshman Marvin Bagley III in the first eight games of the season is getting to the free-throw line on 50.4-percent of the shots he takes. It is of utmost importance that Indiana does not commit soft or lazy fouls especially early. Indiana’s De’Ron Davis will need to be especially aware of this as he has played in foul trouble in nearly every game this season.
- Taking care of the ball will be one of the biggest priorities for Indiana. In the first three games of the season, Indiana averaged 16.3 turnovers per game, two of which resulted in losses. Over the course of their three game winning streak, Indiana has only turned the ball over on average of 9.0 times.
Archie Miller’s first taste of Hoosier prime time
I think this is one of my biggest curiosities leading up to Indiana-Duke on Wednesday. How will head coach Archie Miller prepare his team to play in a high pressure, high intensity game on a national stage? Sure, Miller has coached Dayton teams on tournament runs before and felt the pressure of a big stage. The biggest difference between Dayton and Indiana, though, is well... it’s Indiana basketball.
I would imagine that Miller’s first opportunity to showcase the Hoosiers on a national spotlight will have Indiana fired up and locked in. The expectation for the Hoosiers is not like it has been in recent seasons, and maybe this will take a little bit of the pressure off coach Miller and his players. The mentality of always being the underdog, like at Dayton, could play in Indiana’s favor.
The One (Recruit) That Got Away
If you remember back to last winter, No. 82 recruit Jordan Tucker had announced he was down to Indiana and Villanova as his destination in 2017. After a tumbling Hoosiers team failed to make the NCAA Tournament, Tucker was still considering Indiana. The Hoosiers loss to Georgia Tech (offered Tucker) in the NIT in combination with the eventual firing of Tom Crean was enough to push Tucker elsewhere.
That elsewhere turned out to be Duke. While Tucker has only appeared in one game this season for a total of six minutes, I’m sure he will be greeted with the same type of Hoosier warmth that Purdue players receives when his name is announced at Assembly Hall. I don’t imagine Indiana fans getting a look at Tucker on the floor unless the game is out of hand.
Hey, It Could Happen...
...and if it doesn’t, come back here to reminisce.