Indiana Basketball: Questions for Hoosiers' Home Stretch in Big Ten Play
There are only four more opportunities to suit up for the Indiana Hoosiers before the Big Ten tournament. Obviously, this season hasn't gone how Indiana expected, but it can still improve before March begins.
In order to get better, there are some major issues IU needs to address. Here are four questions facing the Hoosiers as their regular season winds down.
Can Indiana Continue to Limit Turnovers?
Indiana is averaging a Big Ten-leading 15 turnovers per game, but in their last two outings the Hoosiers have taken better care of the basketball. They committed only seven against Northwestern and 10 against Wisconsin.
Is this an emerging trend or just an anomaly?
If you are head coach Tom Crean, you are hoping it's the latter. The Hoosiers don't have a chance at making noise late in the season unless they keep holding onto the ball like they recently have.
Can Stanford Robinson Be Effective Again?
In the Hoosiers' first nine Big Ten outings, Stanford Robinson averaged 8.2 points per game. He was a reliable spark plug, and the Hoosiers played better when he was on the court.
His last five games have been a different story. Robinson is putting up just 4.6 points a night on 37.5 percent shooting. In two of the five, he went scoreless.
Robinson must find his groove again. Indiana is desperate for his aggressiveness and scoring.
Will Noah Vonleh Stay?
As the season comes to a close, the discussion about whether or not Noah Vonleh will stay at IU will intensify. The freshman has put himself on the radar of NBA teams with his stellar play.
Vonleh is averaging a superb 11.9 points every time he takes the floor. Missed shots go to Vonleh's hands like they are magnets—his 9.3 rebounds per game leads the conference.
If Vonleh were to jump to the NBA after his freshman season, he would almost certainly be a lottery pick, a tough offer to turn down.
Only time will tell if Vonleh will be a Hoosier next year, but this question will be a recurring one until a decision is made.
Can the Hoosiers Get on a Winning Streak?
As it currently stands, Indiana's NCAA tournament hopes don't have a pulse. At 15-12 (5-9), they are definitely on the outside looking in, according to ESPN NCAA tournament expert Joe Lunardi. The Hoosiers aren't even one of his 12 bubble teams.
There is, however, a hint of optimism. Out of Indiana's four remaining games, three are at home. The Hoosiers knocked off Wisconsin and Michigan when they came to town, so is it really that unreasonable to think they can't beat Iowa, Ohio State and Nebraska in Bloomington?
Indiana ends its regular season at Michigan. IU beat the Wolverines earlier this season, but playing them at the Crisler Center will be a different story. It will be a tough test, but IU has shown flashes of brilliance on the road—it just hasn't been able to string two solid halves together.
So, humor me and let's say the Hoosiers win all four. Their record would be 19-12 (9-9) heading into the Big Ten tourney. A couple of wins there and a case for Indiana to be in the NCAA tournament could be made. Finishing with more than 20 wins and going .500 in the nation's best/most competitive conference should at least put Indiana on the bubble.
Considering the way IU has played this year, the above assessment is definitely an unrealistic one, but no outcome is set in stone. There is a reason why the games are played, and the Hoosiers have home-court advantage on their side to end the season.
If the Big Ten season has shown us anything, it's that any team can be beaten on any given night. The Hoosiers are hoping this trend holds true in its last four games.