I have to give the Hoosiers credit. Just when I was starting to doubt them, they come through once again. In the midst of battling through injuries, the Indiana Hoosiers caught lightning in a bottle once again by thwarting Big Ten leader Purdue. Even though Shot Quality had it as a fluke result, you still have to respect the win at the end of the day. They now face a far different type of opponent in Iowa, having to figure out a way to slow down their offense. Can Indiana continue to build momentum before the conference tournament?
Iowa Vs. Indiana Odds
Oddsmakers think so as they opened the Hoosiers as a -5.5 favorite on their own home court. Bettors have yet to take a firm stand on either end, keeping the spread the same since the opener. Projections say this line is a tad bit low, having the line a true 4.5 on a neutral court without the home court effect. The issue that comes with backing the Hoosiers in this spot is that if Iowa starts out fast and hot, the Indiana offense is ill equipped to keep pace. That variance makes this an immediate pass for me.
As for the total, points are expected to be scored at a lightning quick pace as oddsmakers opened the total at 156.5. Bettors were quick to hammer the under before the number was widely available, taking the total down to as low as 154.5. The new total seems about right in line with projections, zapping all value the opening number possessed. It will also be heavily predicated on Iowa’s success of finding scoring consistency, being at a massive disadvantage in the interior on the offensive end.
Iowa Vs. Indiana Prediction & Pick
The Pick: Indiana Team Total Over 79.5
Instead of taking a position on the total, I will instead back only Indiana as I believe they bring a more stable presence towards their ability to score. Especially against the Hawkeyes defense, a historically bad unit. They have been labeled a paper tiger throughout the past few years and this season is no different, ranking a lowly 170th in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency. For those of you who don’t know what a paper tiger is, a paper tiger is a unit that is one of the most efficient on offense yet well below average on defense. Normally a fade target during tournament time.
Their lack of defense bodes well for the Hoosiers as their scoring pace is below average in comparison to other efficient offenses. Indiana brings a more old school approach, relying on the interior production of a star big man. That big man in this instance is Trayce Jackson-Davis, a lethal finisher in the paint who is currently averaging 20.1 points per game while shooting 57.4% from the floor. What he “lacks” in size, he makes up for in his soft touch around the rim as one of the best finishers in the nation.
Iowa has the height to match TJD but lacks the intensity to smother Indiana’s looks near the rim. They are routinely burned in the interior, consistently giving up looks at the rim at an above average rate. Should Jackson-Davis get going early, Iowa would have no choice but to collapse down in the paint. This would open up gaps in the perimeter, playing towards Jalen Hood-Schifino who has grown into a secondary scoring role for the Hoosiers. Opening up a two-man game, cutting towards the interior and taking attention away from Trayce Jackson-Davis.
Iowa Vs. Indiana Key Matchups
Can Indiana continue to find production from the perimeter?
Indiana three-point shooting vs Iowa perimeter defense
One of the key factors towards Indiana’s improvement on offense has been their sudden sharpness from behind the perimeter. This has forced defenses to stretch out, giving Trayce Jackson-Davis and Race Thompson more room to work with in the interior.
This was an area of weakness at the start of the season, now finding life as of late and giving their offense much needed versatility.
Iowa is already a brutally bad defense as a whole, especially if they are forced to scramble at defending multiple levels of the offense. With Iowa failing to cover open shooters through Indiana’s motion sets, the Hoosiers will have ample opportunities to convert on clean looks from deep.
With Iowa being too unpredictable towards the full game total in this contest, I will just back Indiana and their over as I believe they will have consistent scoring opportunities throughout the course of this game.