Deepak is a writer for the Big Ten microsite of Rush The Court. Follow him on Twitter for more about B1G hoops at @dee_b1g.
Winning on the road seems to become a tougher challenge every year in college hoops. Ask Jim Boeheim about Syracuse’s loss to Pittsburgh on the road or Dana Altman about the Ducks unable to close the deal at California on Saturday – road games are no joke at this time of the year. Keeping that trend in mind, imagine the Wolverines’ challenge on Saturday night at Assembly Hall, where they had to deal with approximately 17,000 Hoosier fans who have been marinating in the cold all day thinking about this game. During ESPN’s College GameDay special on Saturday morning, they interviewed a bunch of Big Ten players about the toughest Big Ten venue and Assembly Hall was the unanimous answer. The Hoosiers’ 81-73 win on Saturday night in Bloomington may put IU back at the top of the polls again but let’s not forget that this is the first part of this series — they will play again in Ann Arbor on March 10 where the tables could be turned. Having said that, the Hoosiers played with more intensity right from the tip and executed well on both ends of the floor. The following are three thoughts from the match-up.
- The Hoosiers had more transition opportunities than the Wolverines. The credit goes to the Hoosiers’ transition defense here. They limited Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway from transition opportunities by allowing jumpers. The two Wolverines combined to take 17 shots from beyond the arc and couldn’t find easy buckets around the hoop because Victor Oladipo and Christian Watford hustled back on defense throughout. Without any transition opportunities, the Wolverines were not able to get to the free throw line consistently and finished with just seven opportunities from the charity line. On the flip side, the Hoosiers were running wild to end up with 25 free throw attempts on their end, and as a result, were in a comfort zone offensively. Even in their half-court sets, the Hoosiers clogged the lanes for Burke and Hardaway, therefore giving up only jumpers. Transition opportunities were a key factor in this game and the Hoosiers clearly won that challenge Saturday night. Read the rest of this entry »