Your Indiana Hoosiers vs. Michigan Wolverines Primer (Big Ten Tournament Pt. 1 of 5)

So our boys are heading into to the game tomorrow in the #9 seed facing off with the #8 seed Michigan. Now at the beginning of the season I fully expected for us to find ourselves playing on Thursday for Mike Woodson’s debut Big Ten tournament. Who I did not expect to see playing Thursday at the beginning of the season was the Michigan Wolverines. I mean guys… I know we’ve taken some tough heartbreak this season… but Michigan’s season must be another rollercoaster of let downs. Being preseason #6, they thought the Big Ten was there’s to lose, and if everyone’s honest with themselves, so did the rest of the Big Ten. But here we both find ourselves playing in the same game to potentially square off against the #1 seed Illinois.

Both of these team’s are currently sitting just on the fringe of most bracketology reports. ESPN has Indiana as the first team out, while Michigan is one of the last four bye teams so one of the last 8 in reality. Which means both teams will be giving it their absolute all Thursday.

Indiana needs guys willing to shoot. We ended that last Purdue game down 2 points. For the final 10 minutes of that bout, our boys were passing up wide open shots like the entire team had no interest in scoring. Nobody wanted the pressure of potentially missing that shot so nobody took it. They flipped the ol “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” quote, and made it “you miss 0% of the shots you NEVER take”.

So Xavier Johnson (1st Indiana All-time heart team if you ask me) put it upon himself to win the game. Taking poor shots, sure, but shots that needed to be taken with the mentality of his teammates at the time. And that’s not to say they weren’t putting forth an effort it was just everyone else was playing so timid, that Xavier had no choice but to be a little reckless if we had any shot in that one.

He’s going to do everything he can to take care of us.

After pondering what it will take to beat Michigan, I really saw two glaring issues that need to be addressed.

First, our boys need to bring their hands this game. The Hoosiers seemed to be playing volleyball with their rebounds last weekend. Like past the point of errors, into full blown yips territory with it. We were tipping every rebound in every possible direction it seemed. That cannot happen Thursday or we are dead in the water. The only thing that kills momentum more than a dagger three pointer, is a second chance dagger three pointer. We definitely had a few of those last game. While Purdue was dribbling off their own feet to keep us in that game, we just can not count on Michigan to be so courteous. Grab the ball, record the board, and let’s get on with it. Can’t be ping ponging it around the basket with Michigan.

Second, the Hoosiers ABSOLUTELY MUST be willing to fail. Theordore Roosevelt once said, “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.” Our boys played timid in West Lafayette. If they can step up their own confidence and trust their game to take more chances we could eliminate the need for absolutely bananas shots from Xavier Johnson (again no disrespect on him. The man did what had to be done. Left it all out there for better or worse). What have you got to lose boys? Indiana is a rabid, very well versed fan base. I can’t speak for everyone. But I’m not expecting world beaters to all of a sudden show up. All I really want is to see the team play with more confidence… and in turn, really just more fun. What’s fun about timid play. Isn’t fun to watch, can’t imagine it’s too fun too play.

All talk of confidence and fun aside, this is a huge game. MASSIVE. Indiana looks to have a 3rd chance to make a last ditch statement to get into the tournament. Beat Michigan we are mmmaaayyybbbeee in the dance, barring just a slew of tournament upsets resulting in automatic bids being dished out to otherwise excluded teams around the country. Beat Michigan and Illinois, we are in. I have to imagine that if it’s between Indiana and a mid major jockeying for an at large bid, a tie in resume would go to Indiana. Because, the selection committee can say there is nothing but the resume considered, but they would definitely like the large and willing to spend Indiana fan base to be attending the NCAA tournament.

So here’s to 3rd times the charm on big, crucial, resume building games after the Rutgers and Purdue losses. Here’s to Mike Woodson giving us games in March to care about again, even in this his transition year. And here’s to gassing our boys up. Confidence will be crucial in this one.

Lastly, Mike may want to keep a lookout for rogue head palmings.

On to dismantling the Big Ten starting with Michigan,

LUX ET VERITAS!!!

I’m at a loss… Indiana Hoosiers vs Rutgers depressing recap/self-reflection

What just happened…. What. Just. Happened. I’m sick to my stomach…

Every time. This team rips my heart out.

3-14 from the 3 pt line for our “shooters”

Those refs tried to do everything but gift wrap us that win. Honestly they may have had the most positive impact on the Hoosiers entire game. Between them and Paul Mulcahy (Rutgers), I don’t know who would have gotten the player of the game had the Hoosiers won.

Every time I begin to believe again, Indiana takes what would already be crushing defeats, and makes an absolute art of it, draining me of my very soul for the course of 40 minutes again and again. No woman, not a single one could break my heart the way this team does.

This was a must win folks. Barring a run in the Big Ten tournament, looks like we will be one of the favorites for the NIT, or “the battle for 69th place”. Which in all reality is exactly right around where I had thought this season would end, just with a new coach, new system, and him trying to go get guys to fit that system I was resigned for mediocrity with glimpses of the potential future. Indiana did not really follow this formula. You see, they overperformed in moments throughout this season that I genuinely had little to no expectations for success. And every time those moments warranted me giving them more credit and with it higher expectations, they’ve failed gloriously. It’s honestly astonishing how often this has happened to me.

I’m still going to be appreciative of this team for keeping me invested as long as they have. Again, with Mike Woodson taking over this year, this season was a wash in my mind even before it started. It was going to take more than a few months to crawl our way out of the Archie Miller era. And I do still believe Mike Woodson is the man for the job in today’s NIL/”get me to the NBA now” recruiting landscape. So really writing this out is therapeutic for me. Let’s me really think on it. Let’s me calm down and see the big picture. So cheers for sticking with me to this point in my post.

I will say there is an aspect of just ranting like this that eats at me in a way that is almost unfair to this squad.

But you know what, this team has hurt me, took me on emotional rollercoaster after emotional roller coaster, got me to hope for the highest of highs while delivering some of the lowest of lows…

but do you want to know the worst part?!!!

THE ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY, DOWNRIGHT DISGUSTING PART OF ALL OF THIS!?!?!?!

….

….

….

I’m still holding out hope for a victory at Purdue. WHY!?!!?!?!?!?!?!!!! WHY DO I DO THIS TO MY SELF!!!! I have a little part in my head…. NO MY HEART!!!, That is telling me a win at Purdue is a hefty tournament resume builder. Does anyone know of a good method, or a good therapist to help me silence that little voice. Because I think it may break my heart again…

They’ve been doing it to me for my 29 years on God’s green earth. Why stop now? Sunken cost bars me from cutting any losses! So a las, I ride with my boys to the bitter, gut-wrenching end.

On to PURDUE!

LUX ET VERITAS!,

This hopelessly optimistic Indiana fan boy.

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