IU Insider Blog: Interesting 80 hours

Indiana fans have been on a rollercoaster of emotions this past week, going from trailing Penn State by 15 at one point to knocking off No. 3 Wisconsin. Suddenly, things appear to be looking up for IU hoops again.

It was an interesting 80 hours and 30 minutes for the Indiana University basketball program from early Saturday afternoon thru Tuesday evening.

At approximately 12:30 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, Ross Travis hit a 3-pointer off a pass from D.J. Newbill to give Penn State a 31-16 lead over Indiana with 9:15 to play in the first half at the Bryce Jordan Center.

Indiana was already 0-2 in Big Ten play and was now looking down the barrel of an 0-3 start conference start with an unbeaten Wisconsin team coming to town on Tuesday.

It was clearly an ‘uh-oh' moment for Indiana basketball fans. Trailing Penn State by 15 early had IU fans worried that this team might be in worse shape than they had initially thought.

Indiana had never rallied from 15 points or more to win in the six-year Tom Crean Era of IU hoops and to accomplish that feat Saturday meant IU would have to do it on the road. The Hoosiers had yet to win a true road game on the season.

Now fast forward to shortly after 9 p.m. Tuesday night at Assembly Hall, after IU had rallied from a 10-point second half deficit against No. 3 and previously unbeaten Wisconsin to claim a 75-72 victory over the Badgers.

All of a sudden the ‘uh-oh's had turned to ‘oh really?'s.

Indiana had battled back on Saturday to beat Penn State and then carried that confidence over to the Wisconsin game to pull off a major upset of the Badgers.

Quickly, that potential for an 0-4 start to conference play was a much more representative 2-2.

An interesting 80 plus hours for sure.

Now it's a confident IU basketball team and fan base that heads into Saturday's home game with Northwestern. If the Hoosiers can get their third win in a row there, they will wrap up their season series with Michigan State on Tuesday and come away with no worse than a 3-3 record.

After that the schedule appears to get friendlier. Illinois at home, at Nebraska, Michigan at home, at Minnesota, Penn State at home and at Purdue.

But the only one that matters right now is Northwestern. This is a Wildcats team that recently knocked off Illinois and played well Wednesday night against Michigan State.

The win over Penn State allowed IU to take baby steps forward. The win over Wisconsin was more like running up the stadium stairs and skipping a step.

But unless you beat Northwestern at home on Saturday, the next step in the progression will be a stumble backwards.

IU can't afford a trap game on Saturday when it plays host to Northwestern at 2:30 p.m. ET in a game that will be televised on the Big Ten Network.

One thing that will help the Hoosiers on Saturday is the fact that IU will be playing in the friendly confines of Assembly Hall where the Hoosiers are 10-1 this season. The crowd was outstanding Tuesday night and clearly gave a young IU team an extra boost. That energy needs to return on Saturday. You can only wonder what potentially could have transpired had the students been on campus for the first conference home game with Michigan State?

But it's one step at a time now. Get Northwestern in the win column, take your chances against Michigan State in the Breslin Center and then continue to show improvement against a similar level of competition in the six games that follow.

Do that and the feeling that IU fans had at around 12:30 p.m. last Saturday could be gone for good. Stumble though, and that ‘uh oh' feeling will quickly return.

Follow Terry Hutchens at Twitter.com/Foxsportshutch


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