So, business as usual on Sunday. Big Ten leader Michigan comes into Assembly Hall ranked #10 and loses their first Big Ten game to the Hoosiers by 11.
Oh, that's not business as usual for Michigan? Even this year? Are you sure?
Well, it sure is for Indiana.
Things that have happened in Assembly Hall this year, in order: Hold off LIU-Brooklyn by 1. Blow out Samford by 46 three nights later. Beat #3 (and then undefeated) Wisconsin. Lose to Northwestern by 7. Beat Illinois by 10, having lost by 3 in Champaign less than a month before. And finally, knock off Michigan. There were obviously other games in between, but these are the high (and low) lights.
Things that have happened away from Assembly Hall: Beat Washington by 18, then lose to #18 UConn by 1 in Madison Square Garden. Get blown out by Syracuse in a game that was close until halftime. Lose to Notre Dame in Indianapolis without ever taking the lead. The aforementioned 3 point overtime loss in Champaign, which could have been a regulation win if Evan Gordon was a slightly better shooter. Hold off Penn State by 3. Stay close in East Lansing before losing to the Spartans by 5. Nearly break, before succumbing to, the Pinnacle Bank magic against the Huskers.
And now, on Saturday night, a game against Minnesota that both teams could use, but Indiana almost needs to have to stay near or above the dreaded NCAA bubble. Indiana is coming into a stretch where 4 of the next 5 games are imminently winnable, and the 5th is at home and certainly possible to win.
What does Indiana need to do to beat Minnesota?
-Win the rebounding battle decisively
Indiana averages 5 more rebounds per game than the Gophers, and if Indiana is winning the rebound battle, it means Noah Vonleh is doing work.
These teams are pretty evenly matched on field goal percentage, so any long stretches without made field goals are likely to spell doom.
-Get enough support from people not named Yogi Ferrell and Noah Vonleh
Those two are undoubtedly the best players Indiana has to offer this year, and as good as they are, Indiana needs substantial contributions from other players (preferably two or more) if they want to beat anyone, including but not limited to Minnesota.
If Indiana can check off all three of those points, they have a very good chance of walking out of Minnesota with a win. Anything less than all three, and the Hoosiers may have trouble. Then again, this is a team that has defied basically every expectation placed upon it, so they could miss on all three of these and still possibly win. We just don't know.