Indiana Daily Student

Predictions for the 2018-19 IU men's and women's basketball seasons

<p>A basketball shoots through the hoop during a shootout competition at the 2018 Hoosier Hysteria on Sept. 29 in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.&nbsp;</p>

A basketball shoots through the hoop during a shootout competition at the 2018 Hoosier Hysteria on Sept. 29 in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. 

Ahead of the 2018-19 IU men's and women's basketball seasons, the Indiana Daily Student basketball writers got together to take a look at what's changed for each team this season and what to expect from each group of Hoosiers.

Below you can find predictions for where the men's and women's teams will finish in the Big Ten Conference regular season standings, as well as predicted results for the postseason.

Cameron Drummond - men’s basketball reporter

Men’s: Fourth in the Big Ten regular season, NCAA Tournament Elite Eight

There hasn't been this much anticipation for an IU men's basketball season in a long time. Freshman guard Romeo Langford captured the hearts and minds of both the Hoosier faithful and national audience with his prolific high school career. But the calling card of this year's team will be depth and improved outside shooting.

The Hoosiers can realistically play up to 13 players on a given night as part of their rotation, which is guard-heavy with Langford, sophomore Al Durham, freshman Rob Phinisee, junior Devonte Green and senior Zach McRoberts all candidates for playing time.

If this cast of characters can have confidence shooting the ball, then the physical inside game of senior forward Juwan Morgan will have more space to operate, propelling the Hoosiers to a top-four Big Ten finish and a nice run in the postseason.

Women’s: Eighth in the Big Ten regular season, NCAA Tournament First Round

The 2018-19 season will be one of opportunity for IU's women's team. Sophomore guards Bendu Yeaney and Jaelynn Penn have the chance to blossom into a dynamic duo, with Penn a constant scoring threat and Yeaney an imposing defensive presence. It's also the final opportunity for senior forward Kym Royster, an unheralded part of past IU teams, to reach the NCAA Tournament.

The long awaited debuts of redshirt juniors Ali Patberg at guard and Brenna Wise at forward will give the Hoosiers some experience, but expect some growing pains from the team as it adjusts to life without Tyra Buss and Amanda Cahill. Expect a slow start to conference play before IU picks up the pace down the stretch, finishing with a good conference tournament showing in Indianapolis.

Junior forward Brenna Wise goes up for a layup in her first basketball game at IU. Wise was required to sit out last season due to NCAA transfer rules.  Alexis Oser

Stefan Krajisnik - women’s basketball reporter

Men’s: Third in the Big Ten regular season, NCAA Tournament Elite Eight

The attention surrounding the men's basketball team is mainly directed at the duo of Langford and Morgan. But, as important as they are to the team, I don’t think they will be the most important pieces. 

Last season saw IU fail in two key positions — a strong ball-handler and shooting 3-pointers. A large part of that was struggles of then-seniors Josh Newkirk and Colin Hartman. This year that could change.

Before anything, Green needs to limit his turnovers, as he will likely be the main point guard. In terms of improving the 3-ball, graduate forward Evan Fitzner needs to live up to expectations.

Women’s: Fifth in the Big Ten regular season, NCAA Tournament First Round

The importance of Buss and Cahill to their team is unmatched by any other players at IU. 

However, that doesn’t mean 2018-19 is a lost season for the team. 

Coach Teri Moren will have the ability to play a wider variety of lineups as opposed to last year. With Buss and Cahill playing so many minutes at their positions, it will be key for players like Yeaney, Royster and Penn to take the next step up in their games.

There was a lot of hype surrounding the team’s WNIT Championship run last season, but that is no longer the goal. The goal now is much bigger. It is about Big Ten titles and more. That may not be coming now, but this year is important in getting one step closer.

Senior forward Evan Fitzner gets away from senior University of Southern Indiana forward Jacob Norman during IU's game against USI on Nov. 1 in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. Fitzner scored 10 of IU's 96 points.  Anna Tiplick

Murphy Wheeler - men’s basketball columnist

Men’s: Second in the Big Ten regular season, NCAA Tournament Sweet 16

This team looks like it has all the pieces to be able to be one of the best teams in the Big Ten Conference and make a run in the NCAA Tournament. There’s a nice blend of veterans and young guys that could make this team really dangerous come tournament time. All eyes will be on Langford, but this team begins and ends with Morgan. He’s the anchor, and as long as he stays consistent, the Hoosiers will have a Big Ten Player of the Year candidate on their roster.

IU is going to need a few players to take that next big step in their development. Don’t expect all the freshmen to be elite players from the start. Players like Green, Durham and sophomore forward Justin Smith need to step up. Smith in particular could be an absolute animal alongside Morgan in the frontcourt and somebody, whether it’s Green, Durham or Phinisee, needs to bring consistency to the point guard position. 

Women’s: Seventh in the Big Ten regular season, NCAA Tournament First Round 

This is a team many people might be sleeping on after the loss of the two greatest players in program history in Buss and Cahill. But IU became a different team during the second half of last season on its way to a WNIT title. Yes, Buss and Cahill were the catalysts on both ends of the floor, but Hoosier fans saw Penn and Yeaney grow up in the process.

Penn and Yeaney are both All-Big Ten caliber defensive players, but it’ll be interesting to see if they can carry the load offensively without players like Buss and Cahill setting them up with open looks. It helps that Moren brings in two transfers with a lot of experience in Wise and Patberg. 

Wise is a candidate to lead the Hoosiers in both scoring and rebounding and Patberg can take over for Buss as the team’s main ball handler. Don’t forget Royster, who was a force down low at times last year and freshmen guards Grace Berger and Chanel Wilson, who can give IU much-needed depth. 

Senior forward Kym Royster jumps for a rebound during a game against Milwaukee on Nov. 7 at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. Royster is the only senior on the team this year. Alexis Oser

Dylan Wallace - women’s basketball reporter

Men’s: Third in the Big Ten regular season, NCAA Tournament Elite Eight

This team has the chance to be one of the best IU teams we’ve seen in recent years. With the return of Morgan and additions of Langford and other talented freshmen, there’s a lot of hype around this team that will generate good atmospheres in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. After fans were called out last year for “not showing up to games,” this team’s excitement can put that to rest.

It’s only Coach Archie Miller’s second season, and this team’s makeup is much different than last year’s. So, with everyone still adjusting, it might be difficult to put everything together early in the season, which is why Michigan and Michigan State can take an early jump on IU in the standings. However, as the season goes on the team will get better and can turn into one of the most dangerous teams in the country.

Women’s: Fifth in the Big Ten regular season, NCAA Tournament Round of 32

After a historic year last season, Coach Moren’s squad will look to build off the momentum that saw 13,007 fans, the most in program history, attend the team’s WNIT Championship game win. Although the draw of Buss and Cahill won’t be present, enough people saw the talent of returning players that will draw more attention to the program.

The team adds three talented freshmen and two eager and experienced juniors. This team will be underrated, but it has a lot more depth and all-around talent than last year’s roster. The Hoosiers finished seventh last year in the Big Ten, but this team won’t start as slowly and might see itself defeating one of Michigan, Ohio State or Maryland. That will put them higher in the Big Ten standings, and will help them get into the NCAA Tournament, where they might take a few games. 

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