Games don't get much bigger than this during the regular season. Big Ten title hopes are on the line and with a fitting venue holding the contest; Assembly Hall in Bloomington, Indiana. It's not always a raucous environment but you can bet your bottom dollar it will be later tonight. It's a fan base that believes in their Hoosiers this year and they host the fourth best team in America according to the AP Poll.
Going into tonight's showdown, Iowa is 10-1 in the Big Ten, Maryland is 10-2, and Indiana is 9-2. A win for the Hawkeyes gives them a two-game cushion over Tom Crean's Hoosiers. A win for Indiana and Tom Crean's Hoosiers make the Big Ten race a three-way tie.
Indiana has some size. There's nobody that is crazy big outside of Thomas Bryant but they do have plenty of bodies that are at least 6-7 in Bryant, Colin Hartman, Max Biefeldt, Troy Williams, and OG Anunoby. That should help them in their defense of Jarrod Uthoff but possibly leave them at a disadvantage when defending Peter Jok. Some of them will have to step out and guard one of the Big Ten's most prolific scorers from the perimeter.
On the flip side of that, Jok's defense will be important as well. Fortunately for the Hawkeyes, that's probably the most improved area of his game.
Yogi Ferrell is one of those players that's capable of going off for 30 regardless of who's guarding him so putting a lid on him is a challenge no matter what. Iowa does have a couple of the better on-ball defenders in the league in Gesell and Clemmons. That at least gives them a chance of containing Ferrell. The presence of Adam Woodbury and his experience in comparison to Indiana post Thomas Bryant, also helps the Hawkeyes. They're built to be able to defend Indiana. The only times they've struggled on the defensive end has been when Adam Woodbury is in foul trouble.
At the same time, Iowa's offense is tough to hold at bay. The only times they have been held in check is when they haven't shot well.
If Iowa shoots well and Woodbury is on the floor for his normal minutes, Iowa should be able to go into hostile territory and come away with a win.
Iowa had their poor shooting performance already when they visited Maryland. I don't see that reoccurring. Indiana had their lapse in the last game when they fell at Penn State.
Because of that, I think you see the best from both Iowa and Indiana tonight in Assembly Hall. It's a crazy environment but the experience of the Hawkeyes should be able to overcome that. They have the bodies to do their best to hold Yogi Ferrell and Thomas Bryant in check. Indiana can do the same but I'm not sure they'll have an answer for Peter Jok.
I think Iowa squeaks out a win. They match up well with Indiana and they're not a young team that will be rattled by the crowd in Bloomington. They've been there and done that.