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Men’s Basketball: Tournament implications critical in Ohio State’s battle against Indiana

Ohio State freshman guard Luther Muhammad (1) takes a shot in the second half of the game against Penn State on Feb. 7. Ohio State won 74-70. Credit: Ethan Clewell | Senior Lantern Reporter

With nine games remaining on the schedule before the Big Ten tournament, Ohio State is hanging on the edge of the NCAA Tournament as a bubble team.

A win against Indiana on the road could help Ohio State move up over the bubble and onto more secure ground.

Projected Starters

Ohio State (15-7, 5-6 Big Ten)

G — C.J. Jackson — Senior, 13.0 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 3.6 apg

G — Luther Muhammad — Freshman, 10.2 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 2.0 apg

F — Andre Wesson — Junior, 8.6 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 1.6 apg

F — Kyle Young — Sophomore, 7.2 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 1.0 apg

F — Kaleb Wesson — Sophomore, 14.9 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 1.8 apg

Indiana (13-10, 4-8 Big Ten)

G — Romeo Langford — Freshman, 17.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 2.3 apg

G — Rob Phinisee — Freshman, 6.5 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 2.9 apg

G — Aljami Durham — Sophomore, 8.5 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 1.7 apg

F — Justin Smith — Sophomore, 8.7 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 0.8 apg

F — Juwan Morgan —Senior, 15.9 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 2.2 apg

The Hoosiers’ record is not one that jumps off the page, but their record inside their home arena remains impressive.

Indiana is 10-3 inside Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, starting the season with 10 consecutive wins before dropping games to Nebraska, Michigan and Iowa.

“That environment there is one of the best in our league and we know that, so we’re gonna need to play really well,” head coach Chris Holtmann said. “I think they probably have gotten a lot of life from just how they played at Michigan State.”

On Feb. 2, the Hoosiers took down then-No. 6 Michigan State in East Lansing, Michigan with a 79-75 overtime victory, the only win for Indiana in its past eight games.

Freshman guard Romeo Langford leads the team with 17.6 points per game while shooting 46.1 percent from the field.

Close behind Langford is senior forward Juwan Morgan, who has 15.9 points per game and a team-leading 7.8 rebounds a night.

“That was a tremendous road win at Michigan State, goodness gracious, tremendous road win,” Holtmann said. “I think they’re really talented with Morgan, whose tremendous, and a tremendous mismatch. They’ve had a lot of injuries, but they’ve got a couple of those guys back, Davis is back now, obviously Romeo’s terrific, [Indiana head coach] Archie [Miller] does a great job.”

Even with eight losses in its past nine games, Indiana ranks No. 46 on KenPom.com, and would be Ohio State’s second-strongest win on of the season, the highest since the Buckeyes’ opening victory against Cincinnati.

The most recent matchup between Ohio State and Indiana was in Bloomington, Indiana on Feb. 23. In that game, forward Keita Bates-Diop led the Buckeyes with 24 points and 14 rebounds, enough to take down the Hoosiers 80-78 in double overtime.

With Indiana’s tournament hopes this season fading and Ohio State looking to stay on or above the bubble, the game on Saturday holds heavy stakes for both teams.

“I mean we beat them in double overtime last year, so I know they’ve been waiting for this one,” junior forward Andre Wesson said. “We’ll be ready.”

Ohio State takes on Indiana on the road at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

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