It's the second matchup of the season between Indiana and Iowa. The Hoosiers won the first contest in Bloomington by a score of 85-78. Both teams shot 29-63 from the field while Indiana was slightly better from three-point distance. The team statistics were similar across the board except for the blowout in bench scoring where the Hoosiers outscored Iowa 29-0. That is where the game was won.
Since the win over the Hawkeyes, Indiana is 3-1. They did lose to Michigan State by 19 at the Breslin Center but responded by defeating Nebraska, Purdue, and Illinois. The Hawkeyes are going the other way, they've lost four of five and three in a row. The three losses came at the hands of Penn State, Wisconsin, and Ohio State.
A win for Indiana gives them the Big Ten Conference title outright. They've already clinched a share of the crown due to Iowa's loss to OSU over the weekend.
Two teams going in opposite directions here. The game could be a lot like the last meeting between the two sides if Iowa does not get any scoring from their bench. But that was in Assembly Hall. A lot of times with a young bench they only show up in home contests. That's just what young kids do. I know they didn't in the Wisconsin game but I do have a feeling they come alive at home against Indiana.
There's a huge sense of urgency in this one for Iowa. Well, Indiana, too, since they can clinch the Big Ten title outright. The Hawkeyes can't spoil those hopes and they could end their tumultuous losing skid. They're still fighting for a chance to share the Big Ten title with Indiana and they're still playing for seeding and an opportunity to open up the NCAAs in Des Moines. There's still a lot to play for.
Not to mention it is Senior Night. And the Hawkeye seniors lead the charge in turning the program around. They were responsible for ending the druthers of the Todd Lickliter Era and signified the rebirth of the program, if you will. That four-guy class; Jarrod Uthoff, Mike Gesell, Anthony Clemmons, and Adam Woodbury are now responsible for 87 wins and 2 NCAA Tournament berths with a third coming very soon.
Indiana shot it extremely well in the first meeting and got better bench play. They still might get better bench play later tonight but it won't be the discrepancy that we saw in Assembly Hall. Iowa's bench produces in the scoring totals tonight. The Hoosiers are unlikely to shoot as well as they did in the first contest.
One angle is that I don't think the pain from the loss has worn off. They're still stewing over what happened in Columbus and how it's all been piling on. There was some time to recover mentally after the losses to Wisconsin and Penn State. I think it may play into Iowa's advantage that this game is happening so soon. The sting hasn't worn off and I think they need to play with a little bit of anger and emotion and this might do it.
Senior night. The losses piling onto each other. Little time to recover mentally. Still being furious over what just happened with little time to let it wear off. A sense of urgency. A big-time opponent in primetime. Big Ten title hopes in the balance. This all matters tonight.