Big Ten Tournament: Indiana's Biggest X-Factors in Semifinals

Josh BenjaminCorrespondent IMarch 15, 2013

PORTLAND, OR - MARCH 17:  (C) Will Sheehey #10 of the Indiana Hoosiers stands with teammates Christian Watford #2, Victor Oladipo #4, Jordan Hulls #1 and Cody Zeller #40 after Sheehey was called for a flagrant foul in the first half against the Virginia Commonwealth Rams during the third round of the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the Rose Garden Arena on March 17, 2012 in Portland, Oregon.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Now that the Indiana Hoosiers are in the semifinals, players besides Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo are going to need to step up against a feisty team in either Michigan or Wisconsin. Those two players are important to the team's overall success, but it is even more so that head coach Tom Crean and the rest of the team not become overly reliant on them.

Fortunately for Indiana, the roster is incredibly deep and full of players capable of stepping up their effort whenever called upon, from solid rebounders to lights-out shooters.

This is only going to help the team down the stretch, both in the Big Ten tournament and the national one next week.

However, the Hoosiers need to focus on the semifinals for now and prepare accordingly for Michigan or Wisconsin. Both teams have what it takes to pull off a stunning upset, with Wisconsin already having done so against Indiana on Jan. 15.

So long as the following players are able to step on the court and give the team that little extra push, Indiana should not have a problem advancing to the Big Ten Championship Game.


Jordan Hulls

Hulls does not have much in the size department at just 6'0", 182 pounds, but one thing is certain: The man can shoot.

The senior guard averaged 10.5 points and three assists per game on the season and shot an eye-popping 49 percent from three-point range. When left open beyond the arc, all that opposing teams can do is hold their breath.

Hulls himself is incredibly important because, with Oladipo constantly slashing towards the hoop and Zeller manning the paint, the Hoosiers could use some silent assassins who can drain long-range shots. This young man fits that mold perfectly and needs to be in top form in the semifinals.


Christian Watford

Wisconsin is a good rebounding team and Michigan likes to drive the lane on offense, which means that Indiana is going to have to live up to its status as the 19th-best rebounding team in the league.

This is where Watford comes in.

The 6'9", 232-pound senior averaged 12.4 points and 6.4 rebounds per game this season and also showed touch from long range, making 49 percent of his threes. Zeller won't be able to do all the rebounding work by himself, so it is important that Watford do his fair share of work on the boards.

Offensively, Watford just needs to showcase his improved jumper as well as drive to the basket when necessary. The key to an Indiana victory is mixing up the attack and that becomes tougher if Watford is off his game.


Will Sheehey

On paper, Sheehey looks like little more than a shooter. He averaged 9.5 points per game on the season and shot 49.5 percent from the field while making 35 percent of his threes.

Because of these efforts, he was named the Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year.

However, those who think that Sheehey is no more than a shooter would be wrong. Not only can he be both a post and wing player, his on-ball defense is solid as well. In terms of being a swingman, this young man can do it all.

Tom Crean is going to need Sheehey to do everything and then some in the semifinals. The Hoosiers are a great team, but they'll only go as far as their under-the-radar players take them.

That includes Sheehey, whose commitment to excellence and teamwork gives the team a unique edge.