Where: Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, Bloomington, Indiana
When: 1:00 PM EST, Sunday, February 9th, 2019
How to watch: CBS (Kevin Harlan and Dan Bonner)
Following Indiana’s loss to Iowa on Thursday, the Hoosiers’ backs are against the wall yet again, and will likely remain that way for the rest of the season. Sitting at just 13-10 and 4-8 in the Big Ten, Indiana’s margin for error has all but evaporated.
This will make Indiana’s clash against the visiting Buckeyes even more crucial when they tip off on Sunday afternoon. Not only does this game represent one of the last remaining contests the Hoosiers will potentially be favored in, but it also represents a match-up against a team Indiana will likely be competing with for a Tournament berth come March.
Ohio State’s season has had a similar trajectory to Indiana’s, where a promising 12-1 start to the season was derailed by a stretch of six losses in seven games. The Buckeyes have been able to get their season back on track since then, however, winning three of their last four contests to put them in the thick of the tournament discussion.
The Buckeyes are led by Sophomore big man Kaleb Wesson, who, at 6’9 270 pounds, could prove a load for the Hoosiers to deal with on the inside. Wesson is the leading scorer and rebound man for the Buckeyes, averaging 14.9 points per game along with 6.5 rebounds per game on the season. One area he has struggled in, however, is foul trouble. Wesson has had trouble staying on the floor, averaging just 24.6 minutes per game on the season, along with 3.5 fouls per game, good for 5.7 fouls per 40 minutes.
Joining Wesson in the frontcourt will be his brother, Andre Wesson, who mans the four spot for the Buckeyes. Andre can score effectively around the rim, shooting 67.6% on shots in the paint; he also possesses the ability to step behind the arc, where he is knocking down 34.9% of his attempts on the season.
In the backcourt, the Buckeyes will be led senior point guard C.J. Jackson who comes into this game averaging 13.0 points along with 3.6 assists on the season. Jackson is one of the better three-point shooters the Hoosiers will face this season, knocking down 39.6% of his attempts from behind the arc.
Joining Jackson in the backcourt will be freshmen guard Luther Muhammad, who’s had a very impressive season for the Buckeyes. Muhammad is one of the nation’s elite shooters, knocking down a blistering 45.2% of his shots from the three-point line, and is the Buckeyes third-leading scorer averaging 10.2 points per game.
Senior guard Keyshawn Woods is another notable impact player for Ohio State, though he does most of his work off the bench. A transfer from Wake Forest, Woods is averaging 6.8 points per game along with 2.6 assists on the season for the Buckeyes. Woods has struggled to find his shot however through most of the season, shooting just 40% from the field and 29.1% from behind the arc.
As a team, despite the presence of Kaleb Wesson in the middle, the Hoosiers focus will need to be on limiting the Buckeyes perimeter offense. Ohio State is currently scoring roughly 35% of their points from behind the arc, 2nd most among squads in the Big Ten. Indiana will also need to take care of the ball, with Ohio State having the 3rd highest defensive turnover percentage in the Big Ten. However, Indiana can also expose the Buckeyes on that front on the other end, where the Buckeyes come in dead last in the Big Ten in turnover percentage themselves.
Sunday’s game will be a crucial contest for the Hoosiers tournament chances. With games remaining against Iowa, Purdue, Wisconsin, and Michigan State, all of whom find themselves in the top-25, failure to take care of business against the Buckeyes could prove to be the final nail in the coffin for the Hoosiers.