Date: Sunday, December 29
Time: 5:00pm CDT
TV/Streaming: Big Ten Network
All-Time Series: 2-2
Most Recent Matchup: March 2019 in the NIT, Indiana won 63-60.
2019-20 Record: 11-1
Head Coach: Archie Miller (3rd season, 46-32)
Indiana is off to its best start since 2012-13. Current Georgia Head Coach led the Hoosiers to a 15-1 start that season with a trip to the Sweet 16. Archie Miller hopes to match that and more in year 3 as the HC. The first 2 seasons have been a struggle in Bloomington with last season being a huge disappointment. In 2018-19, the Hoosiers went 19-16 while having 2 outstanding players in Juwan Morgan and Romeo Langford.
This year, Indiana has had early tests with teams like Notre Dame, Nebraska, UCONN, Wisconsin, and Florida State all a part of their schedule. Those tests result in an OT win over Nebraska, close wins over UCONN and Notre Dame, dominating Florida State, but losing to Wisconsin by 20.
Miller has a deep bench. He will play up to 10 players any given night. However, a new man leads the Hoosiers on campus. Freshman Trayce Jackson-Davis has been a star for Indiana. The 6-9 forward is averaging 15.0ppg, 8.9rpg, and 2.0bpg. With Arkansas’ lack of size, look for Indiana to go to Jackson-Davis early and often on Sunday.
2019-20 Record: 10-1
Head Coach: Eric Musselman (1st season)
Arkansas did what Arkansas does last week against Valparaiso. North Little Rock has not been friendly to the Hogs over the years. The Razorbacks just seem to not play to their capability every year in NLR. This season was no different. A late comeback and heroics from Mason Jones were required to beat Valpo last week. With Christmas break in the rear view mirror, Head Coach Eric Musselman hopes to have better performance in Bloomington.
A road game at Indiana will not be anything new for many of the Razorbacks after the trip there in the NIT last year.
Turnovers have been a regular topic this season for Musselman’s team. The Hogs are going to be out-rebounded on Sunday. Indiana has a big front court and plays 10 guys. It would be a miracle if the Hoosiers did not win the rebounding battle. Because of that, Arkansas must limit and force turnovers to have a chance. This game will not be won on the boards like most games in college basketball. It will be won in the turnover margin.
Indiana’s current strength of schedule ranks 143rd compared to Arkansas’ which ranks 140th.
The Hoosiers have played seven Q4 games to Arkansas’ 2. Indiana does hold an advantage on Arkansas by already playing two Q1 games. The matchup on Sunday will be the first Q1 for Arkansas this year. It is a huge resume opportunity for the Hogs.
Indiana does not shoot the ball well. They are a team that lives in the paint with Trayce Jackson-Davis and Justin Smith. I believe the Hogs will sell out on guarding the paint by denying entry passes and double teaming post-ups. They are going to force IU to make shots. I believe it will be a similar game plan that was used against Western Kentucky for Charles Bassey. The Hogs did a really good job on Bassey in the half-court possessions, but WKU hit their shots.
Indiana is a better team than Western Kentucky. Indiana is a tougher place to play than Western Kentucky. Indiana has faced teams as good and better than the Hogs, but this will be the best team Arkansas has faced this season.
Hogs will hang tough, but it won’t be enough.
Score Prediction: Indiana 77, Arkansas 68
Like many in our state, I didn’t have a choice in who my favorite team would be growing up. I was raised on Razorback. I remember watching the early season games on ARSN or conference games on JP Sports. My first favorite players were Brandon Dean and Joe Johnson. Great memories. I never thought years ago I would be writing about Arkansas Basketball. I don’t have a journalism background or anything like that. When given the opportunity, I wanted to challenge myself with something new and it has been a blast!