With Michigan State regaining sole possession of the Big Ten a night earlier, the top ranked Indiana Hoosiers knew they couldn’t avoid a slip up in order to stay in the hunt for the regular season title. For all of about ten minutes Wednesday night, the Hoosiers seemed to be forgetting all about their goal of a Big Ten title. Then they woke up.
Cody Zeller struggled early on. Yogi Ferrell stopped driving the ball. And the Hoosiers were suddenly in an actual game with the visiting Nebraska Cornhuskers. Then Victor Oladipo, and really who else did you expect, got things rolling. His three helped key a 10-0 run to put the Hoosiers ahead for good 21-14. His final stat line? Another stellar performance consisting of 13 points, 8 rebounds and 3 steals.
With the win the Hoosiers find themselves again in a tie with Michigan State atop the Big Ten standings at 10-2, both two games in the win column ahead of Wisconsin. If the season ended today the Hoosiers would get either Illinois or Iowa in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament. Indiana gets Purdue on Saturday, while Michigan State travels to Nebraska.
The victory was a prime example of what Indiana does well. Nebraska head coach Tim Miles said, “I thought it was transition more than anything.” And in reality that was it. The Hoosiers not only possess Cody Zeller, who runs the floor better than any big man in America, but the Hoosiers as a team are viewed as the best team in transition. With lightning quick guard Yogi Ferrell running the point, the Hoosiers send shooters Jordan Hulls and Will Sheehey trailing for open threes, which is what helped the Hoosiers pull away from Nebraska.
But in order for Indiana to continue doing things well they can’t find themselves trailing by four to a Nebraska team that has only three Big Ten wins, two of them coming against Penn State. The same team that got spanked by UTEP walked into Assembly Hall for the first time as a member of the Big Ten and had their way early on, perhaps sensing the crowd wasn’t as riled as it usually is.
Once the Hoosiers put it together they were as good as advertised, sending Nebraska back to Lincoln to awe over their football signing class. Indiana is still a team that is putting it together. Did Michigan State look more impressive Tuesday night? Yes. Does that matter when it comes to 10-2? No. But it will matter on March 10th when the regular season crown, is finally decided.