On Sunday at 4:30 ET, the #8-ranked Indiana Hoosiers (15-2, 3-2) travel to Columbus to take on the #5-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes (15-3, 3-2) on CBS.
As always, Jerod, Andy, and Ryan will be here with another episode of The Assembly Call as soon as the game ends with instant analysis and fan reaction.
IU-Ohio State Gameday Info
- Date: Sunday, January 15th
- Time: 4:30 ET, 3:30 CT
- TV: CBS
- Announcers: Verne Lundquist and Clark Kellogg
- Point Spread: Ohio State by 12.5
- Over-Under: 142.5
- KenPom Prediction: Ohio State 77-65 with 84% chance of winning
- Peegs: IU Gameday
- Inside the Hall: What to Expect – Ohio State
IU-Ohio State Preview
Both teams are looking to bounce back following tough losses this week. Ohio State was on the receiving end of Brandon Paul’s 43-point explosion when they played the Illini on Tuesday, and the Hoosiers were outplayed by a scrappy and determined Minnesota team at home on Thursday. In addition, OSU will be looking to avenge a New Year’s Eve loss in Bloomington.
Buckeye big man Jared Sullinger comes in on a roll after scoring 68 points and grabbing 25 boards in his last three games. Foul trouble limited him in the first meeting between these two teams, but the Hoosiers will have to find a way to limit him inside, a tall task that will likely fall on Cody Zeller. Given IU’s struggles to clean up the offensive glass of late, Sullinger’s rebounding is a huge factor to watch.
OSU forward DeShaun Thomas is coming off one of his better games of the season with 23 points against the Illini. Like Sullinger, foul trouble hindered his production in the first game against IU where he was held to a season-low five points. However, the Indiana native scored 22 points against the Hoosiers in Columbus last year. The matchup between Thomas and Christian Watford is a critical one for both clubs.
Watford struggled through his worst game of the season against the Gophers, scoring just five points on 1-of-7 shooting and turning the ball over four times and grabbing only three rebounds. It will be important for the Hoosiers to get him involved offensively in the early going if they want to spring the upset, and he has to be more physical on the defensive glass to prevent second-chance points.
The other two key players for the Buckeyes are guards William Buford and Aaron Craft. Buford was also limited by foul trouble in the first meeting, scoring just eight points in one of three single-digit scoring efforts over his last seven games. The dilemma for the Hoosiers will be figuring out whether to put defensive ace Victor Oladipo on Buford or Craft. He picked up a couple key steals against Craft at the end of the first half in the team’s first meeting, but Verdell Jones spent a lot of time on Craft in the second half and played relatively well.
That ultimately speaks to the biggest key for IU, as their defense has allowed a Big Ten-worst 1.11 points per possession. What once was thought to be just an anomaly is starting to look like a trend, and the Hoosier defense was carved up by a mediocre Minnesota offense on Thursday night. Indiana needs to get back to forcing turnovers and rotating effectively on defense, in addition to keeping the Buckeyes off the offensive glass. Otherwise, it could be a long afternoon.
On offense, the Hoosiers are coming off of one of their worst three-point shooting efforts of the season after making just 4-of-18 against the Gophers, two of which came in the closing minutes. The ball movement has to improve after tallying just six assists on Thursday, which won’t be easy against the on-ball pressure of Craft and a stout OSU defense. Consequently, the performances of Jordan Hulls and Verdell Jones will be critical. Hulls got hot late against Minnesota, but Jones suffered through his worst game of the season, going scoreless with three turnovers in 23 minutes. They combined for 31 points when they faced the Buckeyes in Bloomington and will need to come close to that total again while limiting their turnovers.
Cody Zeller played one of the best offensive games of his young career against Minnesota with 23 points and eight rebounds. The Hoosiers need to continue to feed him the ball inside to put pressure on Sullinger defensively. Zeller’s quickness and ability to run the floor could pay dividends if he can keep himself out of foul trouble.
Indiana also got a big boost with the return of Will Sheehey, who came off the bench to score 12 points and grab six rebounds in just 15 minutes against the Gophers. He’s still working his way back from a conditioning standpoint but gives the Hoosiers another offensive weapon as well as a versatile defender.
The Hoosiers have been getting great play off the bench from Matt Roth, and his ability to knock down three-pointers has been a shot in the arm for the offense. He hit nine three-pointers against Ohio State as a freshman. The bench play from Tom Pritchard and Derek Elston will also be critical. Both struggled against Minnesota but will be key in helping the IU defense slow down Sullinger.
The Buckeyes boast the top defense in the nation in terms of adjusted efficiency. They allow the lowest offensive rebound percentage in the country and are in the Top 10 in turnover rate. Their ability to slow IU down on offense puts that much more pressure on the Hoosier defense to keep this one close.
Ohio State is a perfect 13-0 at home this season, and they will be motivated for revenge against the Hoosiers on Sunday. While IU faces a tall order on the road, their previous victory over the Buckeyes should provide some measure of confidence. Win or lose, the Hoosiers need to show improvement on the defensive end and rekindle the hustle, toughness, and emotion that propelled them to a 15-1 start.
IU-Ohio State Postgame Show
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