IU Insider Blog: The Assembly Hall Factor

Indiana has been very tough to beat at home the last three years. But can the magic of Assembly Hall be enough to get the Hoosiers over the hump against the No. 5 team in the nation?

The constant in the chaos for Indiana basketball has always been the friendly confines of Assembly Hall.

Play in the Hall, in front of the raucous Hoosier Nation, and good things always seem to happen.

The Christian Watford shot to beat Kentucky is permanently imbedded in the minds of Hoosier fans.

The New Year's Eve win over No. 2 Ohio State that same season is right there, too. The win over No. 1 Michigan last season when ESPN College GameDay came to town is another example.

And the list goes on and on. The two wins over Michigan State the past two seasons in Assembly Hall have also been major victories for the program.

In the last three seasons at Assembly Hall, the Hoosiers are 44-3.

Enough said. This year the Hoosiers are 9-0 at home and eight of those wins have been by 13 points or more. Now, teams like Kennesaw State, Nicholls State, North Florida, Stony Brook and Chicago State may not strike fear into the hearts of many Division I college basketball teams, but they have served as table setters for the Big Ten home season.

The bottom line is that Indiana's leader in assists over the past three seasons has been Assembly Hall and the difficult place it is to play for Big Ten opponents.

But now comes the No. 5 Spartans on Saturday afternoon and the question is a simple one: Can playing at Assembly Hall be enough of a lift when you're facing the No. 5 team in the nation?

Add to that the reality that the students are not on campus and even though it's a sellout it won't be exactly the same kind of atmosphere.

Here is now I see it, and I really think it is this simple.

If Assembly Hall is at its crazy, amped up, deafening best and IU turns the ball over 23 times, the Hoosiers will lose by double digits.

If that number comes down to 16 or 17, and the IU fan base does it usual magic, I still think it will be difficult for this Indiana team to overcome a team as good as the Spartans.

Get that turnover count down into the 12 or less range though and I think Indiana has the firepower to hang with Michigan State home and potentially come away with the upset.

So all I'm asking for is that Indiana cuts its turnover total in half from the Big Ten opener against Illinois. Slow things down a tad. Eliminate the careless mistakes and play smart basketball.

In my opinion, a lot of times it really comes down to not swinging for the fences. Not going for the ESPN SportsCenter highlight moment but rather taking the safer route. Not going for the superlative but rather taking what the defense gives you.

I think the energy in the building will take care of a lot of things.

But the only statistic that really matters is how will the Hoosiers take care of the basketball.

For me, the magic number is 12. Keep it under 12 turnovers and I think IU has a reasonable chance to leave Assembly Hall Saturday with a 1-1 record and much-needed boost in confidence.

Follow Terry Hutchens at Twitter.com/Foxsportshutch

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