"My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house.
That's not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk." —Al McGuire

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Indiana Preview

Indiana Hoosiers
November 14, Assembly Hall (Bloomington, IN)

Coach: Archie Miller (16-15 at Indiana, 155-78 overall)
3-Year RPI Average: 74.3
3-Year kenpom Average: 42.0
2018-19 T-Rank Projection: 23
Projected Starters: PG Devonte Green (6'3" Jr), SG Romeo Langford (6'5" Fr), SF Justin Smith (6'6" So), PF Juwan Morgan (6'7" Sr), C De'Ron Davis (6'10" Jr)

The Hoosiers got two huge boosts this past Spring. First, 5-star stud Romeo Langford committed. Then Juwan Morgan withdrew from the NBA Draft. That combination should give the Hoosiers one of the most effective inside-outside duos in the Big 10. Beyond that, the Hoosiers have depth. They have five other returning players that averaged 15+ mpg as well as five freshmen (including redshirt Race Thompson) that were rated 4-star by at least one of the major services.

While Carsen Edwards & Ethan Happ will likely get the preseason press, don't rule out Morgan in the Big 10 when it comes to postseason accolades. He thrived in Miller's system and is a hyper-efficient interior player. He makes up for his deficits from three & at the line by making 63.0% of his 2PFGs. Putting Langford alongside him gives Miller an elite scorer who is the prohibitive favorite for Big 10 freshman of the year. He will likely be a one-and-done & appears to be a surefire lottery pick at this point.

At Dayton, Miller's teams made their living by attacking the interior on offense. Guys like Scoochie Smith, Kendall Pollard, and Charles Cooke went inside & got to the line. It's no surprise that Juwan Morgan was able to do the same for Miller last year. Defensively, Miller's Dayton teams altered shots & generally limited opponents to one shot...eventually. It wasn't until years 3-4 when he finally got the results he wanted. Losing his starting backcourt from last year could mean it takes some time for Indiana to get it figured out. I'm glad MU sees them early in the season.

It's hard to know what to expect from IU this year. While Michigan State looks like the Big 10 favorite, the Hoosiers are one of 11 teams ranked from 20-52 by T-Rank. On the surface, the combination of a player that can take over a game in Morgan, a secondary stud in Langford, & a deep roster looks like the recipe for a NCAA berth & possible run. But numerous Big 10 teams have a similar composition & it's hard to see more than 6-7 earning NCAA bids as the league has never placed more than 7 teams in the field.

Indiana should be a Quadrant 1 game for Marquette & this is a solid RPI/SOS opponent win or lose. They have a good chance to compete for a NCAA berth, though considering how wide open the Big 10 is, anything from a 4-seed to fingernail chomping on the bubble seems like a perfectly fair expectation.

Marquette Connection: New Marquette Assistant Coach Dwayne Killings started his college career at Massachusetts. He began as a ballboy, then walked on & played for two years under Bruiser Flint. Flint is now an assistant on Miller's Indiana staff. Killings spoke of Flint when he first arrived in Milwaukee, telling Ben Steele of the Journal-Sentinel Flint "became like a second father figure to me & a huge mentor to me in this business." 18 years after both men left UMass, they will be reunited as opposing assistants on the sidelines. (You thought it was going to be Crean, didn't you? Admit it, you totally thought it was Crean. Hell, even I thought it was going to be Crean.)

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