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Big Ten Tournament 2012: Why Hometown Crowd Will Carry Indiana to Championship

BLOOMINGTON, IN - MARCH 04:  The Indiana Hoosiers cheerleaders perform during the Big Ten Conference game against the Purdue Boilermakers at Assembly Hall on March 4, 2012 in Bloomington, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
T.J. McaloonContributorMarch 5, 2012

The 2011-12 season has seen this Indiana Hoosier team rise from the ashes of mediocrity to post an near perfect home record of 18-1. Because of that, they will survive a tough Big Ten tournament field to win the conference in front of their hometown fans in Indianapolis. 

They capped off winning 18 of 19 home games this year with an impressive 85-74 victory over Purdue at Assembly Hall. 

Their only loss at home was a 77-74 heartbreaker to a subpar 18-13 Minnesota Golden Gophers squad. 

Aside from that lone loss, Indiana was able to put a beat down on the best of the best in the Big Ten. 

They survived two great home games, defeating Ohio State 74-70 on New Years Eve and Michigan 73-71 just five days later. 

However, the Hoosiers throttled the top seed in the Big Ten tournament, Michigan State Spartans, a mere one-week ago 70-55. 

Luckily for the Hoosiers, they open the Big Ten tournament as the No. 5 seed against the No. 12 seeded Penn State Nittany Lions, who the Hoosiers beat at home 73-54. 

From there, they stay in the top-half of the bracket, which keeps them away from the two teams they had to squeak out a close win against earlier in the season, Ohio State and Michigan. 

Indiana has to find a way to use their home court advantage playing in Indianapolis to get past the No. 4 seeded Wisconsin Badgers. Indiana did not play Wisconsin at home this year; however, they did fall to the Badgers 57-50 in their lone meeting on the road. 

BLOOMINGTON, IN - MARCH 04:  Cody Zeller #40 of the Indiana Hoosiers dunks the ball during the Big Ten Conference game against the Purdue Boilermakers at Assembly Hall on March 4, 2012 in Bloomington, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

To get past Wisconsin, Indiana will have to get a better game from potential Big Ten Freshman of the Year, Cody Zeller. 

In their first meeting, Wisconsin was able to hold Zeller to numbers well below his average for the 2011 season. Zeller averaged 15.4 points per game, however, he was only able to score seven points against Wisconsin. 

While, Zeller averaged 28.2 minutes per game, against Wisconsin Zeller was only on the court for 19 minutes. Zeller’s absence in the second half helped Wisconsin to outscore the Hoosiers 32-23 in the second half erasing a 27-25 first half lead. 

If Indiana can get past Wisconsin in the second round, they should be able to cruise past Michigan State in the third round before facing off against Ohio State or Michigan in the finals. 

With the hometown crowd thrilled to see this Hoosier program back to their winning ways, they will help carry this program to its first Big Ten tournament title.

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