Indiana Hoosiers Basketball: Players Who Must Step Up in Big Dance

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Indiana Hoosiers Basketball: Players Who Must Step Up in Big Dance
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Indiana may have landed a No. 1 seed, but certain players on the team will need to step up their efforts in the tournament if the Hoosiers are to enjoy a long and prosperous run. As great as Indiana looked all season, its flaws are notable and need to be addressed ASAP.

The sad truth is that like any No. 1 seed, Indiana is just as beatable as a lower seeded squad. Be it because of a player lacking in a certain skill set or one on a cold streak, the Hoosiers cannot win the tournament on heart alone.

Simply put, Indiana's hopes for a championship are going to be on the rocks unless the team's overall collective effort reaches new heights in the tournament. It isn't a bad squad by any means, but the flaws are obvious and stronger teams are definitely going to be looking to take advantage of them.

Unless this small handful of players step up and take control of the Hoosiers' destiny, Indiana's championship hopes could come to a stunning end.

 

Will Sheehey

Bradley Leeb-USA TODAY Sports

Look up swingman in the dictionary, and you'll see this young man's picture. Sheehey averaged 9.4 points off the bench this year, but shot 49 percent from the field and 37 percent from three-point land.

Sheehey was also named the Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year, but that doesn't even begin to describe the depth of his talent.

The junior can shoot threes and drive the lane well, but his motor is unbelievable. He plays with so much determination, going after every loose ball and is also fully locked in on defense from start to finish.

So long as he can keep up his production and be a force on both sides of the floor, Indiana definitely has a shot at making the championship game.

 

Christian Watford

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Watford just couldn't catch a break on the boards in the Big Ten tournament, where Indiana was eliminated by Wisconsin. He scored 14 points, but managed just three rebounds before eventually fouling out.

Seeing as how he posted 12.5 points and 6.2 rebounds per game, he's going to need to put up a stronger effort in the paint.

This means going after every rebound and using more of an interior offensive game and not so much using his jump shot. He shouldn't abandon his jumper completely, but it definitely should be second priority compared to his game in the paint. If he can help shoulder the rebounding load in each and every game, then the Hoosiers definitely have a chance at winning a title.

 

Cody Zeller

USA TODAY Sports

Look, I get it. Cody Zeller is the unquestioned go-to guy on this Hoosiers squad, so why would he possibly need to step up his effort? After all, he DID lead the team with 16.2 points and 8.2 rebounds per game this season.

The sad truth is that despite having solid size at 7'0", 240 pounds, Zeller is not exactly what one would call an elite athlete. He's a strong interior presence, but is slow on his feet and has a really hard time keeping up with more athletic players.

Just look at what happened in Indiana's loss to Minnesota on Feb. 26, when Zeller was held to just nine points and seven rebounds while Golden Gopher Trevor Mbakwe ran rampant.

Simply put, Zeller needs to have some extra bounce in his step throughout the tournament. Apart from doing what he does regularly, he needs to play more aggressively, even if that's not what he's used to doing.

The fact of the matter is that Zeller is the leader of the Hoosiers, and the team is only going to go as far as he takes it. One bad game could sink title hopes at this point, so Zeller needs to be completely locked in from start to finish, being a strong presence on both ends of the floor.

Should he succeed, Indiana could very well be raising that championship trophy by tournament's end.

 

Remember to download and print out your bracket and be sure to follow the Live Bracket too!

Follow all the exciting NCAA tournament action with March Madness Live

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