The Indiana Hoosiers will head to Durham, North Carolina, tomorrow to take on the defending National Champion Duke Blue Devils. A matchup that all of Hoosier Nation has had circled on their calendars since the team schedule came out. There are still question marks around the turnover and defensive issues that have plagued Indiana so far this season. How will IU respond coming off a disappointing trip to Maui and blowout of an Alcorn State team who had no reason playing in Assembly Hall last night? What exactly are the keys for Indiana to steal a win on the road at Cameron Indoor?
Indiana will have to limit the driving ability of Grayson Allen. This talented Sophomore Duke guard has killed opponents (excluding UK) breaking down perimeter defenders and reaching the rim with ease. This makes me worry a bit about this game. If you have watched Indiana this year, you know that they have an extremely tough time keep opposing guards out of the lane. I believe that the only way IU scraps out a win is if they can impede Grayson Allen’s ability to get to the basket. Look for Robert Johnson to exert all of his energy on the defensive side of the ball and try to take Allen out of the game.
James Blackmon Jr. needs to come ready to play. I am eating my words from last Friday’s podcast as I called out James for being a disappointment so far this season; he finally showed up on both ends of the floor. Yes, he did just drop 33 against Alcorn State, but in the past he has often been nowhere to be found in games with a formidable opponent. I believe that if JBJ can get hot out of the gate, the rest of the IU squad will feed off him and play with much more confidence. That being said, a major factor of Indiana’s success will be the 3-point shot. Indiana has been known to live and die by the long ball in most of the Tom Crean era. This means that Nick Zeisloft and company must be ready to shoot at all times tomorrow night. If IU can shoot close to 5o% from beyond-the-arc and play just average defense, expect them to be extremely competitive in this game.
Indiana needs to stay out of foul trouble. This will be key, especially for Thomas Bryant and Yogi Ferrell. There is a serious lack of depth in the paint, behind Bryant, so I believe it is key that he stays out of foul trouble. A big factor in this is if IU’s perimeter defense can keep the Duke guards out of the lane. If Thomas Bryant has to step up and deal with the Blue Devil guards on a regular basis tomorrow night, that will more than likely result in foul trouble for TB. Yogi Ferrell will also need to limit his fouls tomorrow because Indiana is going to need their Senior PG to step up in an intensely hostile environment. Ferrell has the most “big game” experience among all Hoosier players. If Yogi can play a clean game, limit his turnovers, and make some big shots Indiana will be in a favorable position to pull off an upset.
Along with these three keys, IU will have to drastically reduce their unforced turnovers, mental mistakes, and play at their pace to make this a game. I, along with a vast majority of Hoosier Nation, have absolutely no clue as to which Indiana team will come to play tomorrow. Let’s just hope it is the one we know and love.