Upset-minded Indiana prepares for No. 20 Iowa
It will be momentum all around as No. 20 Iowa and unranked Indiana meet Thursday at Bloomington, Ind., in a clash of Big Ten Conference teams coming off season-defining victories.
Indiana just put a resounding end to a seven-game losing streak Saturday, with a 79-75 victory at No. 6 Michigan State. The losing skid was the longest in eight seasons for the Hoosiers (13-9, 4-7).
Indiana will be playing its first of consecutive Big Ten Conference home games, just one of two occasions where they will play back-to-back conference games at home.
Iowa will enter coming off a 74-59 thrashing of former No. 5 Michigan, just the second loss of the season for the Wolverines. The Hawkeyes (17-5, 6-5) showed a no-fear attitude early, taking the action directly to the highly regarded Michigan defense while building a 42-29 halftime lead.
Iowa's style of play is no secret. Evidence of the Hawkeyes' willingness to attack is in their Big Ten-leading 575 free-throw attempts. They take advantage of the opportunities as they also lead the conference 75.1 percent shooting from the free-throw line.
Also on display in Friday's victory over Michigan was a willingness to crash the boards. Behind forwards Tyler Cook, Luka Garza and Ryan Kreiner, the Hawkeyes held a 48-36 rebounding advantage over the Wolverines.
Iowa's Joe Wieskamp, who has scored 11.4 points per game, is the Big Ten's most recent freshman of the week, the second time he has earned the honor this season.
"It's the same thing I have been saying all season, we have the capability of doing this," Iowa junior guard Jordan Bohannon said of the victory over Michigan. "When things aren't going our way, there will be a lot of outside noise. They say that we can't get things done. But I've been trying to stay even-keel and trying to keep the team positive when we see adversity."
Indiana knows all about fighting through the hard times. Ranked No. 25 as recently as Jan. 19, the Hoosiers' recent losing streak included defeats to Nebraska at home and at Rutgers.
What made the Michigan victory even more promising for the nine-game regular-season stretch run is that it came without injured senior guard Zach McRoberts (foot), while star senior forward Juwan Morgan left in the first half against Michigan with a shoulder injury. It was the same shoulder that required surgery in 2016.
Morgan was back at practice by Monday, increasing the chance he will return to the court Thursday against the Hawkeyes.
"We have another opportunity Thursday against Iowa, who, in my opinion, is another team that can do damage in March," Indiana head coach Archie Miller said on the "Inside IU Basketball" radio show. "They have unbelievable size, great speed and shooting. And they are coming off a great win at home against Michigan, so Thursday night will be as difficult."
Indiana does hold a significant advantage in the head-to-head series with Iowa, not only winning 103 of the 179 games played between the schools, they also have won the last three matchups going back to the Big Ten Tournament in 2017.
Indiana is 60-29 all-time against Iowa at home. Iowa has won two of its last three road games in Big Ten play.
--Field Level Media
Updated February 6, 2019