Northwestern (8-10) at Indiana (12-5)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 18, 2:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Assembly Hall (17,472) -- Bloomington, Indiana. Television: BTN. Home Record: NU 7-4, IU 10-1. Away Record: NU 1-4, IU 1-2. Neutral Record: NU 0-2, IU 1-2. Conference Record: NU 1-4, IU 2-2. Series Record: Indiana leads, 111-48.
GAME NOTES: Coming off their biggest win of the season, the Indiana Hoosiers will try to continue their ascent up the Big Ten ladder as they play host to conference rival Northwestern this afternoon at Assembly Hall in Bloomington.
Northwestern has had trouble matching up against the better teams on its schedule this season, but it put forth an impressive defensive effort in its last outing against No. 4 Michigan State, but still fell in a 54-40 decision. As a result, the Wildcats come in at 8-10 overall and 1-4 in conference. They have just one win in five true road games.
Indiana entertained an undefeated Wisconsin squad this past Tuesday, and the Hoosiers took down the third-ranked Badgers in what wound up as a 75-72 final. It was the second straight victory for IU, which improved to 12-5 overall and an even 2-2 in Big Ten play. The Hoosiers are an impressive 10-1 at home this season.
Indiana owns a commanding 111-48 lead in the all-time series with Northwestern, but the teams have split the last four meetings in Bloomington.
The offensively-challenged Wildcats put forth their worst showing of the season in the recent clash with Michigan State, shooting a paltry 28.3 percent from the field, which included a 5-of-23 effort from 3-point range. Tre Demps was the only player to reach double figures for NU, scoring 12 points on just a 4-of-13 shooting performance. JerShon Cobb went 3-of-12 for eight points. The Wildcats performed very well on defense, limiting the high-powered Spartans to 38.5 percent field goal efficiency and just a 2-of-16 effort from beyond the arc. Drew Crawford (15.0 ppg, 6.9 rpg) continues to pace the 'Cats in both scoring and rebounding, while Cobb (11.7 ppg, 4.3 rpg) and Demps (10.1 ppg) provide support when called upon. Unfortunately, the unit as a whole is shooting just 39.9 percent from the floor, including 30.5 percent from downtown, in putting up 62.4 ppg. At the other end, foes are netting only 64.6 ppg on typical shooting efforts of .419 overall and .302 from distance.
Kevin Ferrell recently took over the scoring lead in the Big Ten, and his 25- point performance in the Hoosiers' upset of Wisconsin will assure him of remaining there for the time being. Will Sheehey and Stanford Robinson both tacked on 13 points, while Noah Vonleh chipped in with 10 for an Indiana squad that made good on 51.6 percent of its total shots. The Hoosiers were guilty of only 12 personal fouls in the game, resulting in a mere four free throws for the Badgers, who converted only one. Ferrell is netting 17.9 ppg, while also getting his teammates involved with 4.2 apg. Vonleh has had a solid freshman campaign, as he is averaging 12.1 points and 9.0 rebounds per game, while the veteran Sheehey contributes 10.9 ppg for a team that is lighting up the scoreboard for nearly 80 ppg, doing so on 46.1 percent field goal efficiency. A massive +11.9 rebounding differential has helped the cause, but the team's -2.6 turnover margin could be a detriment when taking on the better teams in the conference.
The Wildcats lack the firepower to challenge the big boys in the Big Ten. And while the Hoosiers are a rung below squads like Michigan State, Ohio State and even Wisconsin, they are clearly superior to the visitors here.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Indiana 73, Northwestern 58
01/18 10:17:01 ET