Indiana knocked off Nebraska in the opening round of the Big Ten Tournament in what will be the last Big Ten game this season played in front of fans. Even better, Nebraska brought out a pair of football players in the closing minutes as Big Ten fans got to watch an offensive lineman and quarterback play in their first college basketball game.
Strength In Numbers
Indiana didn’t have one player dominant in scoring but they did have five players reach double figures in points. Trayce Jackson-Davis had a big day with 11 points and 17 rebounds while the Hoosiers as a team shot 53.0% from the field and 40.9% from three. Mix that with out rebounding Nebraska and holding the Cornhuskers to 30.0% from the field and it wasn’t a surprise that Indiana won big tonight.
The Hoosiers will benefit if they continue to have a wide variety of players step up for the team. With Armaan Franklin adding 13 points and 7 rebounds from the bench and Devonte Green adding 12, the Hoosiers had a balanced approach and were able to fend off a late run from Nebraska.
Hoosiers Show Resilience
Indiana hasn’t had very much success in the Big Ten Tournament. Desperately needing a win to solidify their NCAA Tournament bid things were looking problematic as the Hoosiers trailed 27-33 with under four minutes to go. Instead of folding and letting Nebraska hang around the Hoosiers took control of the game and went on 16-1 run to take control of the game heading into the break.
They picked right back up in the second half, roaring out the gates with a 15-4 run to push the lead to 20 and didn’t look back after that. Nebraska is incredibly thin and didn’t have the depth or talent to hang around with Indiana for a full 40, but Indiana didn’t fold when they faced some adversity early on and managed to take care of business down the stretch. Even when Nebraska roared back to cut the deficit to 10 the Hoosiers found a way to respond and put the game back out of reach.
Indiana Likely Clinched NCAA Tournament Bid
A win over Minnesota last week was likely enough to get the Hoosiers into the NCAA Tournament, with most brackets penciling Indiana in with either a 10 or 11 seed. However, ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi had the Hoosiers as one of his last four in, leading to a rather immature rant from Archie Miller in response.
While Indiana was slotted in the NCAA Tournament a loss to Nebraska would have been detrimental as the Cornhuskers currently have a NET ranking just inside the top 200. The loss, combined with several other factors (bubble teams, conference tournaments), could have cost the Hoosiers an NCAA Tournament bid.
Indiana avoided that entirely by pulling away from Nebraska after the Cornhuskers looked like they were going to play for the upset. It helps Indiana avoid an awful loss and even if they lose tomorrow to Penn State that shouldn’t hurt their resume too badly.
With wins against Michigan State, Florida State, Ohio State and Minnesota that should likely be enough, even with a dreadful non-conference schedule and two losses to Purdue. The Hoosiers should be dancing for the first time under Archie Miller.
Tonight Was Your Last Chance To See Games With Fans
The NCAA Tournament is still set to go on later this month but it was announced that there won’t be fans in attendance. The NCAA also announced that the NIT would do the same, while the CBI announced it was cancelling their 2020 tournament. The Big Ten Tournament had fans in attendance today but announced during the first game that the rest of the tourney will be without fans. So if you wanted to watch Big Ten basketball with fans in attendance tonight was your last chance until next season.