IU Insider Blog: The Big Three

Indiana is hoping to put three wins in a row together and post its first three-game winning streak since the Hoosiers won the first five games of the 2013-14 season. If IU can do that, it will have 18 wins and an 8-9 conference mark. But this inconsistent IU team could just as easily lose the next three in a row. How will the Hoosiers fare?

An argument could be made that Indiana could come out of the upcoming three-game homestand with three victories, an 18-12 overall record and an 8-9 mark in conference play.

IU could head to Michigan on March 8 on a three-game winning streak. Can you remember the last time Indiana won three games in a row? It was actually a five-game winning streak to open the season that culminated with a victory over Washington at Madison Square Garden.

Since then Indiana has had a trio of two-game win streaks but no stretches of three in a row. But the Hoosiers haven't played back-to-back-to-back home games since the non-conference portion of the schedule, too.

So sure, there's no reason to think Indiana couldn't rise to the occasion the next week and knock off Iowa, Ohio State and Nebraska in a row.

At the same time, the Hoosiers could just as easily lose all three games, fall to 15-15 overall and 5-12 in the Big Ten.

Like it or not, this is Indiana basketball 27 games into the 2013-14 season.

As we've said before with this Indiana team, the only thing that has been consistent has been IU's inconsistency.

One thing IU has going for it with these three games is that the Hoosiers will face three teams that rank higher than IU in the conference standings. And the Hoosiers seem to play better when people don't think they have a good chance.

Think about it: IU owns wins over Michigan and Wisconsin in conference play and had big first-half leads on the road against teams like Nebraska, Minnesota and those same Badgers.

This same IU team, however, lost to both Northwestern and Penn State at home this season. Against Northwestern, Penn State and Illinois, the Big Ten bottom feeders, IU had a 3-3 record.

So what will really happen when the Hoosiers play Iowa tonight, Ohio State on Sunday and Nebraska on Wednesday in the final three regular season home games this year?

I think you might be surprised. I think Indiana wins at least two of these games and maybe all three. Indiana just plays at a different level in Assembly Hall than it does in other games.

It won't be easy. Iowa is coming in having lost three of its last five games and the past two in a row. Since having the game with IU postponed last week, Iowa has dropped a home game to Wisconsin and a road one to Minnesota. All of a sudden Iowa is 8-6 in conference play. Besides traveling to IU, the Hawkeyes also play at Michigan State and home against both Purdue and Illinois.

But Iowa's skid of sorts could also work in Indiana's favor tonight. If Iowa gets behind early, it will be human nature for the ‘Here we go again' thoughts to creep in. Iowa's two-game losing streak could easily stretch to three if IU is able to seize that opportunity.

As bad as it was watching IU squander another big lead and lose on the road at Wisconsin Tuesday night, I walked away from that game with this thought.

Indiana has had sizeable leads this season at one time or another against Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Nebraska, Illinois, Penn State and Northwestern. Two of the other teams, Iowa and Ohio State, are teams that Indiana has faced yet. But still, that's nine teams out of a possible 11 that Indiana could have faced.

And the Hoosiers have to feel like they can play with all of those teams.

If IU can build some momentum over the next week, it will assist the Hoosiers in gaining confidence and help them adequately prepare themselves for the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis.

But to gain that momentum, IU needs to take advantage of this three-game homestand that begins tonight with the Hawkeyes.

Follow Terry Hutchens at Twitter.com/Foxsportshutch

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