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Tuesday, April 16
The Indiana Daily Student

sports men's basketball

Indiana men’s basketball’s Big Ten Tournament seeding scenarios ahead of Nebraska game

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Coming off back-to-back losses, Indiana men’s basketball has six games remaining to make a late push at the NCAA Tournament. The Hoosiers (14-11, 6-8) currently sit 10th in the Big Ten, and with the regular season’s end nearing, it isn’t too early to look ahead at Indiana’s potential matchups for the conference tournament. 

If the season ended today, Indiana would face No. 7-seed Minnesota in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament. The Hoosiers beat the Golden Gophers 74-62 in Bloomington on Jan. 12, the two teams will face off a second time March 6 in Minneapolis. 

According to a seeding calculator, factoring tiebreakers and KenPom, a basketball analytic site, the predictive results for the rest of Indiana’s season vary greatly. 

The first scenario is the worst-case scenario, which KenPom predicts based off single-game projections. As underdogs with expected losses in its last six contests, Indiana would finish the season at 14-17 with a 6-14 Big Ten record. 

In this case, the Hoosiers would finish 13th in the conference and face No. 12-seed Rutgers in the first round of the conference tournament. If the Hoosiers were to win, No. 5-seed Michigan State would await them. Indiana lost its sole matchup against Rutgers 66-57 on the road Jan. 9 and will only face Michigan State in the regular-season finale March 10. 

Despite its unfavorable individual chances in each remaining game, KenPom projects Indiana to finish 16-15 with an 8-12 Big Ten record due to the cumulative probabilities, as it describes. Predicting these results with Indiana’s most-probable wins of the six games, the Hoosiers would defeat Nebraska and Penn State in this scenario. 

Those results would lock Indiana in the No. 9 seed by winning tiebreakers over Iowa and Ohio State. The Hoosiers would face No. 8-seed Maryland in the second round and a win would mean a third matchup with Purdue, who would be the No. 1 seed. 

Again, the probabilities are endless. While hyper-unrealistic, the path for an outright No. 2 seed is still open for Indiana. If the Hoosiers won out while all other favorites won, they would earn a No. 5 seed. 

All of these possibilities start Wednesday night when Indiana takes on Nebraska in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. The Hoosiers lost 86-70 in Lincoln on Jan. 3 and are looking to avoid the series sweep. 

Indiana’s biggest advantage over the Cornhuskers is its home court. The Hoosiers have dipped to 4-3 in Assembly Hall against Big Ten opponents this season, but Nebraska has yet to win a conference road game with an 0-7 mark. Five of those seven losses have been by double digits. 

In the two teams’ first matchup, it was all Cornhuskers. They led the game for more than 33 minutes compared to the Hoosiers’ four-minute hold on the lead in the first half. Nebraska led by as many as 22 points. 

The 3-point line was one of the key difference makers the last time out. Nebraska, who leads the Big Ten in 3-point makes and attempts, shot 12-for-32 against Indiana. Senior guard Keisei Tominaga made four of the 12 in a 28-point performance to lead all scorers. 

Perhaps the Hoosiers’ Achilles’ heel in that game was their turnover output. Indiana had a season-high 19 giveaways which the Cornhuskers produced into 27 points. Comparatively, Nebraska had eight turnovers which Indiana converted to 6 points. 

Indiana’s front court was its biggest advantage against Nebraska as it capitalized on the size difference. Sophomore center Kel’el Ware and sophomore forward Malik Reneau combined for 34 of the Hoosiers’ 70 points and Indiana won the rebounding battle 36-29. However, head coach Mike Woodson said the Hoosiers may experiment with smaller lineups due to matchup issues after the loss to Northwestern on Feb. 18. 

Many possibilities remain for Indiana. Despite what any calculations and predictions say, it’s up to the Hoosiers to determine their fate. For Woodson, it’s a process where they’ll play one game at a time. 

“We got six games left, and it starts tomorrow,” he said. “This is a big game for our team in terms of really staying in the hunt and trying to move the other way.” 

Follow reporters Will Foley (@foles24) and Matt Press (@MattPress23) and columnist Daniel Flick (@ByDanielFlick) for updates throughout the Indiana men’s basketball season. 

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