Three Players Indiana Basketball Needs to Shine for a Big Ten Tournament Run

Beyond Kel'el Ware, Malik Reneau, and Mackenzie Mgbako, Indiana needs these players to step up and play their best basketball of the season.

Indiana v Penn State
Indiana v Penn State / Mitchell Layton/GettyImages

Though the Big Ten Tournament begins with the 11th-14th seeds playing on Wednesday, the tournament begins for Indiana Basketball tomorrow night, 30 minutes after the Ohio State/Iowa game. The Hoosiers likely need to win the entire tournament to punch their ticket to March Madness. If that is going to happen, Indiana needs to continue playing well.

The Hoosiers ended the regular season as one of the three hottest teams in the conference. They, along with Ohio State and Purdue, finished the season, winning at least four straight games. Kel'el Ware playing like an NBA lottery pick has much to do with that. Mackenzie Mgbako, looking like the prospect who turned down Duke, was also a contributing factor.

While it is a given that Ware and Mgbako need to play well, these three players have to have an outstanding tournament for the Hoosiers to have any chance of being Big Ten Tournament Champions.

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Xavier Johnson

Johnson's playing well goes without saying. He is Indiana basketball's most experienced point guard and most reliable ball handler. If Ware, Mgbako, and Reneau dominate the frontcourt, Johnson's value might not be scoring the basketball. His value in the tournament will be caring for the ball and guarding the opponent's best wing player.

CJ Gunn

Indiana does not shoot the three-pointer well. Gunn is streaky but could be an X-factor if he gets hot. The Hoosiers need some offensive production off the bench, and he is their best offensive option. Gunn could provide Woodson with another reliable backcourt option besides Johnson and Trey Galloway.

Malik Reneau

The math is simple with Reneau. If he gets it going, opponents can high-low or double-team Kel'el Ware. Also, there aren't many teams other than Purdue that have the size to match up with Indiana in the low post. Every other team has to double either Ware or Reneau. With Reneau playing well, it will be hard for any team wanting to double Ware.