The Hoosiers will look to use the same methods that got them the Senior Day victory in the Big Ten Tournament’s opening round in a rematch with the Wildcats today.
And while common sense might say playing an opponent twice within one week is good for IU — especially since the Hoosiers will have a hometown crowd in Indianapolis — a quick rematch hasn’t always worked in the past.
IU opened the Big Ten season with a home win against Michigan, but the Hoosiers lost to the Wolverines two weeks later on the road. The Hoosiers lost at home to Illinois, and playing them three weeks later didn’t help, as IU suffered a last-second defeat on the road. A less-than two-week break between games against Wisconsin didn’t fare well either, as IU lost both by a combined 60 points.
IU coach Tom Crean acknowledged that both teams would be able to use Saturday to determine their game plans, saying it makes preparation easier.
Even though familiarity does not seem to give the Hoosiers an advantage, they have more confidence and momentum coming into today’s rematch than if they had lost their final game at Assembly Hall.
“For the most part, we’ve been getting better,” Crean said. “I don’t think I would call it momentum, but they’ve got a good feeling.”
Last year, IU lost to Penn State in the first round of the tournament. The Hoosiers had played the Nittany Lions almost two weeks before their loss in the tourney.
And while the Wildcats have as much of an advantage playing the Hoosiers so close, they won’t have the backing of a large fan base supporting them. IU has a 8-9 record at home and 1-3 in neutral arenas.
Freshman guard Jordan Hulls said having IU fans at the game will be a definite advantage.
“It won’t be quite as loud as a home game, obviously, but it’ll bring us energy and it’s always good to have people there cheering you on,” he said.
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