Well, to say the NIT isn't the postseason destination many predicted for Indiana this season would be an understatement of rather epic proportions. In the first month of the season, Indiana knocked off Kansas and North Carolina and were regarded as the nation’s best team.
Where did it go wrong?
Some point to the incredulous loss in Fort Wayne, some point to coach Tom Crean, and others blame the players for failing to take the strides needed to collectively boost this team into a unit worthy of a NCAA bid.
Georgia Tech enters the game as an underdog, but just barely. The Yellow Jackets overachieved scarce expectations in the Atlantic Coast Conference this season with a 8-10 record under first year coach Josh Pastner.
Let’s take a look at the game.
-Indiana Hoosiers vs Georgia Yellow Jackets
- Time/TV: 9ET — ESPN
- Covers: Georgia Tech (+3)
1.Will Indiana be able to score?
Georgia Tech isn't just a team that defends well. Rather, they are a team that plays excellent defense, illustrated by their opponents’ field goal percentage of 40.7, which leads the ACC.
When Indiana gets going, scoring is its bread and butter. Take their back to back 90 point games to open the month of March as an example. The Hoosiers boast offensive weapons at essentially all five starting spots and are led by junior guards James Blackmon Jr. and Robert Johnson.
It will be interesting to see if Georgia Tech can maintain the defensive presence it has brought all year and even more so intriguing to see how the Hoosiers attempt to attack it.
2. Who will win: Thomas Bryant or Ben Lammers?
In Indiana’s last gasp in the Big Ten tournament against Wisconsin, Bryant was severely outplayed for the third time this season by Ethan Happ. Bryant will need to flush that from his memory and prepare for yet another talented big man awaiting him in the post.
Lammers is 6-foot-10 and blocks three shots a contest. But Lammers is more than just a defensive threat, as he can also find the net. In fact, the junior can score at a high rate, averaging 14.3 points a game this season.
Bryant will need to use his physicality against Lammers but must stay out of foul trouble.
3. Erase all thoughts that Indiana won’t be leaving it all on the court tonight.
It’s true, there doesn't seem to be much enthusiasm coming out of Bloomington for the forthcoming NIT run. I mean, Indiana declined to host tonight’s game because the majority of students will still be on spring break.
But even though this is the inferior March tournament, it still serves as a platform for Indiana to show the nation that they are a good team that simply fell victim to the grind of trials and tribulations throughout the regular season.
These guys are competitive, and once they step onto the floor, the adrenaline will take over and it won’t even matter which tournament they are playing.
- Pick Against The Spread: Indiana