The Indiana Hoosiers may be on the outside looking in when it comes to the NCAA Tournament at present, but they have a nice opportunity on Thursday evening to get on the right side of the bubble. The No. 21 Iowa Hawkeyes come to Bloomington on Thursday evening, having alternated wins and losses over the past two weeks.
The Hoosiers have lost four consecutive games and come into the game at just 15-8 after starting the season 13-3. Indiana is also just 5-7 in league play.
The Hoosiers are led by freshman big man Trayce Jackson-Davis at 13.8 points and 7.9 rebounds per game and junior forward Justin Smith, who averages 11.3 points and 5.4 rebounds.
Indiana has averaged under 62 points per game during its current four-game losing streak and has surrendered more points per possession on defense than it has been able to score on offense in each of those four games.
Iowa comes into the game with a 17-7 record overall and is 8-5 in league play. The Hawkeyes torched the Nebraska Cornhuskers in their last outing, 96-72. National player of the year candidate Luka Garza leads the Hawkeyes in both scoring (23.1 points) and rebounding (10.1), while Joe Wieskamp (15.4 points, 6.1 rebounds) and CJ Frederick (11.2 points, 2.8 assists) provide much of the perimeter scoring.
This game is the first of Iowa’s final seven regular-season games in which every one of their opponents currently ranks inside the Kenpom top 45.
Indiana is a 1.5-point favorite at home, with the over/under set at 149.
Just Mediocre On The Road
The Hawkeyes have not been bad on the road this season, but at just 3-4 straight up in seven true road games, they are just mediocre. They are also 3-4 against the spread in true road games.
Iowa is also just 4-5 straight up as an underdog and 1-4 in its last five games against Indiana. Overall, the Hawkeyes’ totals have been under in 14 of their 24 games this season, including four of their seven true road games. Of course, in the Hawkeyes’ last seven games, the total has gone over five times.
Does Indiana Have A Dog In This Fight?
Indiana’s early schedule left some people unwilling to trust the Hoosiers going into conference play, and unfortunately, those fears were warranted. The Hoosiers have lost five of their last eight games overall as well as consecutive home games in the rugged Big Ten.
They are 13-4 straight up as the favorite but just 10-13 against the spread on the season, including 1-4 in their last five. The total has gone over in nine of the Hoosiers’ 15 home games but under in nine of their last 12.
Can Indiana Slow Down Garza?
I am not sure that anyone in the country can stop Garza. At this point in his career, you just hope that you can slow down everyone else around him enough to make Iowa one-dimensional. Of course, Garza has gone over 25 points on nine occasions this season, so he can easily carry the team if the others falter.
This game will come down to whether or not Indiana can slow down Iowa’s top 20 offense and actually score some points of its own. The Hawkeyes aren’t exactly a great defensive team, so if Indiana is going to finally score some points, this may be the game that it happens.
At the end of the day, Garza and Wieskamp are just too much. Look for Iowa to win straight up, and play the over.