Indiana Basketball is back!
Indiana Men’s Basketball will open the season tonight at 8 PM EST against Tennessee Tech on Big Ten Network. Indiana comes into this game a couple spots outside of the AP top 25 and will hope to start their journey into the AP poll.
This will be Indiana’s only warm-up game before they head to Maui (Asheville, NC) to play in the Maui Invitational. This game will be a good opportunity for Archie Miller and his staff to evaluate how the new freshmen perform. IU hoops fans are undoubtedly excited for the debut of Khristian Lander but he’s not the only player playing his first game. Trey Galloway, Jordan Geronimo and Anthony Leal will all presumably make their debuts tonight as well. Recently, Miller has heaped praise on the freshmen a during the preseason. He has repeatedly praised Galloway for his aggressiveness and defensive chops while also boasting about Leal, Geronimo and Lander’s ability to hit shots.
Indiana will be fully healthy for their first game as the Hoosiers have steered clear of any COVID protocol and have avoided injuries as well.
The same cannot be said for IU’s opponent. Tennessee Tech has had a few COVID scares in the past few days. Earlier this week, Archie Miller said on the radio that John Pelphrey, the head coach of Tennessee Tech, has tested positive for COVID-19. Luckily, his players were able to avoid being infected and will be coached by assistant coach Marcus King.
Although Tennessee Tech is ranked 314 in the KenPom ratings, Indiana shouldn’t take them lightly. Tech’s roster is headlined by returning guard Jr. Clay, who was a second team all-OVC selection last season. He will be joined in the back court by another standout guard, Keishawn Davidson. These two should provide a decent test for Rob Phinisee, Al Durham, Khristian Lander and company.
The frontcourt also has some established players.Sophomore Tujuatae Williams, who had offers from multiple high-major offers out of high school before committing to Tennessee Tech. The wing averaged 6.4 points and 3.9 rebounds as he started 21 games last year. Williams is a good athlete and finisher, but struggles to shoot the ball from deep. Joining Williams in the front court will be big man Amadou Sylla out of Mali. At only 6’8” he may have trouble with Indiana’s bigs such as TJD and Brunk, but he has proved himself as a pretty good board man. He led the OVC in offensive rebounds a year ago.
Tennessee Tech, despite having some decent players, has some pretty hideous metrics. Tech ranked 334th in adjusted offensive efficiency and 310th in adjusted defensive efficiency last year. Their defense is slightly better as the Golden Eagles forced turnovers on 19.6 percent of their defensive possessions and were 81st nationally in opponent free throw rate (28.5 percent).
Key Storylines for Indiana:
Indiana is clearly the better team and they will look to prove it tonight. How will Lander play in his debut? Will we see a lot of three guard lineups? Will Race Thompson or Joey Brunk start next to TJD? How will Jackson-Davis perform as he enters the season with plenty of preseason honors? What will we see from Leal, Galloway and Geronimo?
Obviously Indiana comes into this game as huge favorites. Vegas puts the spread at 22 points but I could see Indiana winning by more than that.