But I wanted to beat North Carolina first. Tar Heels visiting Assembly Hall. (Indiana Basketball pregame)

Indiana’s handled their lesser opponents with extreme prejudice, and have fully lived up to (and in my unprofessional and biased opinion, surpassed) the expectations the Hoosiers’ fans have had for the team. They’ve answered some big questions like, would they be able to get tough road wins, like they did in Xavier. Mike Woodson has the Indiana Hoosiers playing total team ball and unfortunately for the beaten up Tar Heels, a win in the ludicrously loud Assembly Hall is going to be hard to come by this season. With the Tar Heels licking their wounds and the Hoosiers playing the best ball I’ve seen top to bottom in some time, I fully expect Indiana to handle the visiting North Carolina side.

The Tar Heels are entering Assembly Hall after crawling out of the Phil Knight invitational having exhibited their utter lack of depth for the nation to see. #1 preseason rankings are always subject to speculation, but this North Carolina team was truly exposed by their week of quick turnaround basketball.

Hubert Davis and the Tar Heels are looking to correct themselves from the current tailspin that they find themselves in. I fully expect Indiana’s depth to have the Tar Heels huffing for wind come Wednesday’s matchup. The Tar Heels have played two major conference opponents and have lost to both of them. Those were also at neutral court locations, situations where the UNC faithful travel very well. Assembly Hall will be the most violently oppressive environment they will have faced this season. Not something many would want following two losses at the hands of Iowa State and Alabama.

Mike Woodson and the Hoosiers will be looking to get the game running and quickly. Tire out the stars of North Carolina and the Hoosiers should have no problem handling the Tar Heels. I cannot stress enough, how heavily the starters were leaned on by North Carolina in the Phil Knight tournament. In that 8 North Carolina Tar Heels played 7 or more minutes in the 60 minute marathon that was the Alabama game. The depth Hubert Davis has told UNC fans is present is at the very least not being utilized by him. If there aren’t at least 2 guys that have yet to see the court on the UNC roster that intend to munch more minutes for them, the Tar Heels marathon men will not be able to keep pace with the seemingly abundant depth that Indiana has.

Trayce has taken to the spotlight this year in a way that the most religious Indiana fans out there have yet to see from the superstar. He’s added a sense of urgency and tenacity to what was already one of the most fundamentally sound and athletically gifted games in college basketball. He was a preseason All-American even before he began to put this killer instinct on full display game in and game out. I expect the bright lights on Wednesday to fuel a monstrous game for our captain. He has been setting the tone and attitude of the entire squad this season, and I fully expect him to show our young phenoms how we handle visitors in Assembly Hall. As his legacy season, I fully expect Trayce to be invested in keeping the record in Assembly Hall immaculate this season. Time for the Hoosier leader to set the tone and show the country that this Indiana team is not to be trifled with.

Xavier continues to display a better understanding in his defensive responsibilities. This addition to his game is only overshadowed by the young man’s tremendous leap in shooting percentage. Xavier’s become the front runner for Indiana’s go-to-shot taker. He’s been tremendously efficient in being able to find his shot off of Jalen as well. The balancing act that can sometimes be navigating touches on a team with two ball handlers can be tough. Xavier Johnson and Jalen Hood-Schifino seem to be making it work. I’m wanting to see his shooting continue to show how far it’s come.

Caleb Love is a high producing star. But I fully believe the Indiana front court to have the talent and the minute distribution to greatly negate him in Bloomington. It’s going to be one tough environment for him to get many to drop against the staunch Indiana backcourt defense.

It is going to be terribly disheartening for the Tar Heel front court to see Jordan Geronimo and Malik Reneau checking in for the Hoosiers. While North Carolina’s big men will be asked to log massive minutes, the Hoosier front court should be able to be shifting lines like a hockey team. Of course I don’t mean literally, you gotta let hot hands go off and get into rhythm, but the Tar Heels aren’t going to be getting a moments rest in this one. With Bacot questionable, I have to imagine the Indiana front court should be able to run the Heels out of the building. Our top dog, is nastier than their nastiest, and our 4th big man is substantially better than their 3rd. I would try to compare fourth big man, but they don’t utilize enough of the bench to warrant such a comparison. Look for Indiana to exhaust the already exhausted North Carolina side. It is pick your poison with this Indiana front court.

The Indiana Hoosiers play suffocating defense, inside and out. North Carolina’s offense is predicated largely on hero ball. Armando Bacot is nursing a foot issue heading into Wednesday, and if you are down one of your “heroes”, that is just going to limit that much more the UNC ability to exploit Indiana’s defense. Indiana’s defense should be able to highlight and adjust accordingly to limit the Tar Heels offensive options more and more the longer their stars are asked to remain on the floor.

I think the Hoosiers non-conference schedule is a work of art. Such great, high quality games, while never spreading ourselves too thin and being able to make a practice of lesser opponents. Just masterful in my humble opinion.

Indiana’s schedule hasn’t been the toughest yet, but they’ve been able to find a rhythm and tempo out of the gate. North Carolina has only been exposed thanks to their tougher schedule. While both are looking to compete, the manner in which North Carolina lost those last games makes me think it would be downright heroic of the Tar Heels if they can shake off those bruises. To go to 4OT and lose…. That will take it out of you. Indiana Bandwagon is leaving the station following this win over North Carolina. While it won’t be as nice as it would have been while they were number one, beating North Carolina is a welcome sight for this Indiana fan’s sore eyes. Look for Indiana to firmly implant themselves in the national discussion with a win here. Giving us more eyes heading into Arizona and Kansas. Great time to be a Hoosier fan.

Thank you for reading these short thoughts of an Indiana Hoosier fanboy. Feel free to give me a listen with my UNC pregame episode of the Often Daunted podcast out now, wherever you get your podcasts. Have a great day Hoosier fans!

LUX ET VERITAS!!!

-Burke

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s