Indiana Basketball: 3 Keys to the Big Ten Tournament

Archie Miller, Indiana Basketball. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
Archie Miller, Indiana Basketball. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) /
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Indiana Basketball
De’Ron Davis, Trayce Jackson-Davis, Joey Brunk, Indiana Basketball. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images) /

1. Consistency on defense

It may have gone under-the-radar because of the Hoosiers’ woes on offense, but Archie Miller has really gotten this team to buy into his defense-first identity.

Since their brutal loss to Michigan on February 16th, Indiana has only allowed an average of 61 points per game to their opponents. For reference, Wisconsin finished the regular season first in opponents points allowed per game at 62.2. To back that up, Indiana has held its opponents in those six games to just 39 percent shooting from the field on average, a mark which would make for second best in the Big Ten had it been the case all season.

Now, Indiana didn’t exactly play offensive juggernauts of the Big Ten during this stretch — Purdue and Minnesota composed half of the games over the last six-game stretch, and they both struggle to score. However, Illinois, Penn State, and Wisconsin were all stifled by Indiana (while Wisconsin doesn’t score a lot of points, but in their last six games before Saturday, they were scoring a double-take worthy 120 points per 100 possessions).

IU’s defensive play has given them perhaps the most valuable abstract asset a team can have: an identity.

Archie Miller has been able to get his players to buy in defensively by giving great effort throughout the whole game. If their offense was even just average (at this point, it is far below), then they would likely have won a handful of recent games that ended up in the loss column and solidified their position in the NCAA Tournament.

They’ll need to keep this aggression and defense-first mindset to have an impact in the Big Ten tournament because there is no sign the offense will get redeemed any time soon.