When: 7:00 PM EST, March 19th, 2019
Where: Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, Bloomington, Indiana
How to watch: ESPN
Though Indiana’s hopes of an NCAA tournament berth were dashed on Sunday night, their third consecutive year on the outside looking in, that does not mean the end of Indiana’s season. The Hoosiers were given a slight consolation prize, a number one seed in the NIT and the opportunity to host up to three more home games in Bloomington.
Many IU fans may be disappointed with how Indiana, a team that started the season 12-2 and 3-0 in the Big Ten, found themselves missing yet another NCAA tournament, the Hoosiers will need to move past that disappointment quickly as they look to host the Saint Francis Red Flash on Tuesday night.
The Red Flash finished their season 18-14, earning an automatic bid to the NIT by virtue of winning the Northeast Conference championship during the regular season. The Red Flash would fall just short of earning an NCAA tournament berth, falling 85-76 to Farleigh Dickinson in the Northeast Conference tournament championship game.
The first thing that comes to mind when analyzing the Red Flash is that they rely heavily on their guards for production. The top four scorers for Saint Francis are all guards, with Keith Braxton leading the way with 16.2 points per game on the season along with leading his team in rebounding at 9.8 per game, an impressive number for just a 6’4 guard.
Jamaal King mans the point guard role for the Red Flash, and he has proven himself a deadly scorer as well, racking up 15.2 points per game as well as leading his team in assists at 4.0 per game. Isaiah Blackmon is the only other player to average in double figures for the Red Flash, and the 6’1 guard pours in 11.2 points per game of his own along with being a respectable shooter from behind the arc, knocking down nearly 37% of his attempts.
In the frontcourt, Saint Francis finds themselves relying mostly on two players for minutes down low in Mark Flagg and Luidgy Laporal. Flagg adds 6.6 points along with 4.7 rebounds on the season, with Laporal contributing an additional 4.5 points and 3.4 rebounds per game.
One area of concern that the Hoosiers must be aware of in this contest is the defensive glass. Though the Red Flash struggle in most statistical categories as a team, offensive rebounding is something in which they excel. Saint Francis currently boasts a 33.8 percent offensive rebounding percentage, making them the 29th ranked team nationally in that area. The Red Flash can struggle mightily at times on the offensive end, with an effective field goal percentage that puts that at just 259th in the country, and they rely on offensive rebounding to give them bonus opportunities.
Statistically speaking, there is no reason Saint Francis should be able to play with a focused Indiana team. However, Indiana’s focus for this game could be an area of concern. Will the Hoosiers come out ready to play and end the season with a successful run in the NIT, or will Indiana come out with a nonchalant attitude following their third consecutive year missing the NCAA tournament? With this team, it’s tough to tell.
Should Indiana win this game, they would find themselves looking at a 2nd round match-up with the winner of Arkansas and Providence, who will also tip-off on Tuesday night.