The Big Ten basketball season is halfway through and the Indiana Hoosiers (14-9, 4-6) are currently on the NCAA tournament bubble. Things are not looking good in Bloomington as Indiana attempts to make the Big Dance for the third straight season.
The Hoosiers must make some improvements in order to have any chance at an NCAA tournament bid. Let's examine three.
This is by far the most obvious improvement the Hoosiers need to make—and fast. Turnovers have plagued the Hoosiers all season.
Indiana has committed 355 turnovers and 15.4 per game. Not only is that the worst in the Big Ten, it ranks IU 331st out of 345 Division I teams.
Yes, the Hoosiers are young, but at some point they have to take better care of the basketball. By now this youthful roster should have improved. Indiana is 23 games in, yet continues to make the same mistakes.
In its must-win contest against Minnesota, Indiana committed 16 turnovers, 11 in the second half. Giving the ball away is IU's biggest problem and it needs to be rectified by the next time it takes the court.
Stanford Robinson has been solid but didn't play well against Minnesota.
Yogi Ferrell and Noah Vonleh constantly carry the offense and help for them has not been consistent. At certain points in the season, Will Sheehey, Stanford Robinson and Troy Williams have stepped up, but no one is consistently putting up points. If Ferrell or Vonleh struggle, its always a mystery whether or not someone will pick up the slack.
Robinson and Williams are freshmen, so the real blame sits on the shoulders of Sheehey. Perhaps it was unreasonable to expect a player so accustomed to being the sixth man to thrive as a starter, but regardless, the expectation is there for the senior forward. His leadership has been valuable, but he needs to produce more when he's on the court.
Despite being 23 games into the season, Indiana is desperate for a third, consistent weapon to emerge.
When the game is on the line, Indiana has not performed well enough to win.
The last four minutes of the game have not been Indiana's best. The Hoosiers have to finish better, plain and simple.
Indiana had the final possession in regulation at Illinois and didn't convert. It lost in overtime. In the final four minutes against Northwestern, Nebraska and Minnesota, Indiana was outscored 14-9, 9-5 and 8-4, suffering three close losses. These results could easily come back to haunt Indiana on Selection Sunday.
As the game enters its waning moments, IU's offense comes to a standstill. The ball movement stops, and usually, Yogi Ferrell is forced to take a tough jumper as the shot clock winds down. When the Hoosiers are supposed to be most efficient, they are the opposite.
Perhaps the Hoosiers struggle because they don't have the experience of last season. In 2012-13, Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller were given the ball in clutch situations and were able to convert.
Regardless, what's frustrating about Indiana is it is competitive for 40 minutes but just doesn't make enough plays at the end to earn a win.