The No. 1 team stays the No. 1 team in the land, at least they did their part to keep it that way.
Indiana got 22 points and nine rebounds from national player of the year candidate Cody Zeller and went to 2-0 on the season with an 87-61 victory over North Dakota State in Assembly Hall.
Three other players finished in double-figures for the Hoosiers, including two bench players in Remy Abell and Jeremy Hollowell with 14 each. Indiana never led by less than 10 in the second half.
Marshall Bjorklund led the Bison with 16.
It’s another day at the office for the Hoosiers and Zeller, who overpowered the overmatched Bison and never really were threatened. Tom Crean and team have so far lived up the the well-deserved hype and if Hollowell and Abell keep up with the steady bench play — both had 12 each in Indiana’s season-opening win over Bryant — there’s no reason this team can’t be the team everyone thinks they can be.
David Harten is the editor of The Backboard Chronicles. You can follow him on Twitter at @David_Harten.
Expected to be one of the favorites in the Mountain West this season, Boise State’s perimeter ranks have shrunk by one player due to injury. Thursday it was reported by the Idaho Statesman that freshman guard Malek Harwell will redshirt after suffering a torn ACL in practice. Along with fellow freshman Paris Austin, Harwell is expected to be a key part of the Broncos’ future beyond the upcoming season.
Now, instead of competing with an experienced backcourt that includes four redshirt seniors, Harwell will work to get his knee back to full strength for the 2016-17 season.
Among the guards who will play significant minutes this season are Anthony Drmic, who took a medical redshirt last season, Montigo Alford, Mikey Thompson and grad transfer Lonnie Jackson (Boston College). Chandler Hutchison, who started in Boise State’s final 18 games of the 2014-15 season as a freshman, will also compete for playing time.
Illinois will be shorthanded in its front court for the time being, as during the team’s media day Thursday head coach John Groce announced that sophomore forward Leron Black is out due to injury.
Black will undergo surgery Friday to repair a meniscus tear in his knee, and he’s expected to miss anywhere from four to six weeks. A return after four weeks would have Black back on the court just before the Fighting Illini open their season November 13 against North Florida. Any longer and the Memphis native would wind up missing some game action.
Black averaged 5.0 points and 4.3 rebounds in just under 15 minutes of action per game as a freshman. He’s one of the players expected to contribute in the front court for the Fighting Illini, who lost their best interior defender and second-leading rebounder in Nnanna Egwu at the end of last season (guard Rayvonte Rice, who led the team in rebounding, is also gone).
In addition to Black and junior Maverick Morgan, Illinois adds redshirt freshman Michael Finke and grad student Mike Thorne Jr. (via Charlotte) to their front court rotation.