This will be the most important stretch this Hoosier team faces this season.
Three games. All at the friendly confines of Assembly Hall, against the No. 1, 3 and 4-ranked teams in the Big Ten (with IU sandwiched in the middle at No. 2).
Each will be a huge test.
- First will be the Badgers of Wisconsin, a team that handled Indiana rather easily on Jan. 31 at their place. They visit Bloomington on Wednesday for a 7 p.m. tipoff. And they’ll be hungry, after getting beat on their homecourt this past Saturday by a Purdue team that’s as hot as any other in the nation.
- Then the much-anticipated showdown with Michigan State, once thought of as one of the most important games in the Big Ten this season as both Indiana and Michigan State were the top two pre-season favorites to win the conference title. Despite the Spartans’ two losses (at Iowa and at Penn State) they are still a game or two away from jumping right back to the top of the conference race. They’ll be ready to play. They know a win on Indiana’s home court would do a long way in their quest to get back to the top of the conference race.
- Perhaps the biggest of them all. The Big Ten leader and Indiana’s fierce in-state rival, the Purdue Boilermakers, come to town for the teams’ only game against each other this season. Matt Painter has to be the leading candidate for conference Coach of the Year honors, as he has a team with only one senior at the head of the Big Ten race. Not only that, it will be the first time in years that an IU-Purdue matchup will be so important. The Boilermakers will face a stiff test though this week when the Spartans visit West Lafayette on Tuesday, and with an MSU win, IU would slide into first place heading into the Wisconsin game.
I believe Indiana’s back-to-back road wins says a lot about this team. They’re winning, away from home in the Big Ten no less, and that’s what they needed to do before this critical stretch. They needed to get into position.
Because in reality, they’re right where they want to be. A sole conference loss after 10 games? I think for most of you fans out there, you would have taken that before the season began. They’re playing their best basketball as they head into the year’s most important homestand.
What are your predictions for the these games? Three wins? If there’s one loss, to whom? What has Indiana been doing, in your mind, well these past two games that’s gotten them two victories? What do they need to focus on especially for this stretch?