There’s a double header tonight with Penn State hosting Rutgers followed by Iowa hosting Indiana.
Game of the Night
- Time/TV: 9:00 PM ET FS1
It’s starting to look like Indiana may be in search of a new coach in the near future. Or at least that’s what a good number of Hoosier fans have been clamoring for on social media. Archie Miller’s team not only lacks an identity, particularly on offense, but has shown little to no progress over four seasons with Miller as coach. It also doesn’t help that they just lost to Purdue. Again. For the eighth time in a row in another game with little emotion or spark, looking lifeless as their rival beat them with ease once again on their home court.
Oh, and things don’t get much easier for Indiana. Sitting at 8-6 (3-4) their next five games include Iowa twice, Rutgers, Michigan and Illinois.
We already know that Trayce Jackson-Davis is a force but once again the Hoosiers have struggled to find anyone else to step up. Shooting a dreadful 32.4% from three, the Hoosiers rank 226th in the nation in three point shooting percentage. They also shoot a woeful 66.6% from the free throw line, good for 262nd. Last time out they shot 3 of 18 from three and hit only 16 of their 29 free throws. In a game they lost by 12 both of these deficiencies were deciding factors.
With all of that said it’s probably not a good thing that this Indiana team that can’t consistently score aside from Jackson-Davis now has to play a Hawkeyes team that has KenPom’s number one offense in adjusted offensive efficiency ratings. That makes sense when you realize you have Luka Garza, who is averaging 26.9 points and 8.7 rebounds per game. With a consistent and balanced set of weapons behind Garza, the Hawkeyes can score from anywhere on the court. They also have five of their top six scorers shooting at least 40% from three, something the Hoosiers pale considerably in comparison to.
Indiana needs a win but the reality is they don’t have the offensive firepower to keep up with Iowa. That honestly can be said about most teams in the Big Ten, with a team really needing to rely on their defense if they want to knock off the Hawkeyes. The Hoosiers defense and the uninspired play as of late leaves little reason to think they’ll land an upset tonight.
Iowa wins big.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Penn State Nittany Lions
- Time/TV: 7:00 PM ET BTN
After a 6-0 start the Scarlet Knights have gone 1-5 over their last six games and are in a desperate need of some wins. While the schedule does lighten up a bit with Penn State, Indiana and Northwestern making up three of the next four games, all three of these games are on the road. Nonetheless, if Rutgers wants to get things back up and running they’ll need a win tonight in Happy Valley.
The Nittany Lions finally got back in action after going almost three weeks without a game. Their return included road losses to Purdue and Illinois and now they’ll play their first home game since before Christmas. Penn State is led in scoring by Myreon Jones, who is averaging 15.9 points per game. The Nittany Lions currently rank 272nd in field goal percentage and don’t have much of a scoring presence in the frontcourt, something that has proven to be problematic as Penn State actually has a solid set of guards.
Rutgers has been led by Ron Harper Jr. who has exploded this season with 18.6 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. Like Penn State, most of the Scarlet Knights offense runs through their backcourt. Unlike Penn State, however, they’ve managed to shoot the ball a bit more effectively, ranking 97th in the nation in field goal percentage.
So in tonight’s matchup we have a struggling Rutgers unit facing a Penn State team trying to get back up and running after a long absence away from the court. We also have two teams that offensively run through their guards and have underwhelming frontcourts. Both teams also have struggled shooting the ball. Rutgers has some more playmakers in the backcourt, a clear advantage as Penn State doesn’t have a go-to guy in key situations. The game is on the road, but Rutgers will find a way to pick up a much needed victory.