Indiana's second major test of the season comes on Tuesday night when Pittsburgh visits Assembly Hall as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. The Hoosiers passed their first test against then-No. 22 SMU, but then lost to Eastern Washington last Monday.
If they want to compete with a solid Pittsburgh team, the Hoosiers (5-1) will have to play much better than they have the last two games. Indiana allowed an alarming 98 second-half points in those two games against inferior opponents and left much to be desired.
Pittsburgh (4-2), like SMU, will come to town at less than full strength. Forward Durand Johnson, who averaged 8.8 points per game last season, was suspended for the year. Johnson was one of the Panthers' top shooters.
But the Panthers will pose a challenge unlike one the Hoosiers have seen this season. They're always one of the most physical teams in the country and will attack the glass relentlessly. Indiana has struggled to rebound through six games, and that will be a major area of concern on Tuesday night.
Pittsburgh is led by 6-foot-9 forward Michael Young, who enters Tuesday's game averaging 14.7 points and 8.3 rebounds per contest. Hanner Mosquera-Perea will struggle to match up with the 235-pound Young, but he must challenge him in the post and keep him from dominating the offensive boards. Young averages 4.3 offensive rebounds per game.
Young is the only Pittsburgh player averaging more than five rebounds per game, so it will be critical for IU's other players to keep Young's teammates off the boards.
Junior guard James Robinson also scores in double figures for the Panthers. He averages 12.7 points, 5.8 assists and 3.3 rebounds per game.
The Panthers are already battle tested, having played in the Maui Invitational last week. Pitt went 2-1 in Maui, beating Chaminade and Kansas State and falling to No. 15 San Diego State. After getting blown out by SDSU, the Panthers bounced back with a 23-point win over a good Kansas State team.
IU tends to play to the level of its competition, so perhaps the Hoosiers will show up with more energy on Tuesday night than they did in two games last week. They will have to if they want to avoid being dominated at home.