Is there such thing as a must-win scenario in a Big Ten road game?
If Indiana wants to comfortably make the NCAA Tournament, it would appear that IU needs to win three of the final four games in Big Ten play. That would give the Hoosiers (18-9, 8-6 Big Ten) 11 conference wins and conventional wisdom is that teams with 11 wins should get in the tournament.
And the first team up is Rutgers, an opponent that Indiana beat at Assembly Hall, 72-64 back on Jan. 31.
But Rutgers comes into Sunday’s game (5:15 p.m. ET on BTN) having lost 10 Big Ten games in a row. The last conference win for the Scarlet Knights was Jan. 11.
Rutgers is dead last in the 14-team Big Ten with a 2-12 record. Rutgers is 10-17 overall.
And the Hoosiers come in as a 6 point favorite.
If you thought the 88-86 loss to Eastern Washington in Assembly Hall was a bad loss, this one would take that to another level. At least Eastern Washington is 20-7 on the year and 11-3 in the Big Sky. This would be A BAD, BAD BIG TEN LOSS.
Bottom line: This is one of those game you have to win if you’re Indiana. Lose to Rutgers and your season is in a tailspin. Next you would go to Northwestern and face a Wildcats team that has won three games in a row.
But beat Rutgers and you’re one win from 20 on the season plus you have nine conference victories. And you bounce back nicely from Thursday’s 67-63 loss at home against Purdue.
If you lose … well, let’s don’t talk about it. The heat will get turned up several notches in the Indiana basketball camp.
Indiana is 2-5 in the first seven Big Ten road games with the wins against Nebraska and Illinois. But now the Hoosiers need to put together back-to-back solid outings on the road against Rutgers and Northwestern, and the first step comes Sunday against the Scarlet Knights.
A must-win Big Ten road game? It’s hard to believe that can be the case.
But that’s exactly what is the reality for this Indiana basketball team.