Ohio State v Indiana

Indiana flirting with losing grip on top seeds in NCAA, B1G tourneys

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All it took was a trio of tough drives from Aaron Craft and a sensational defensive performance sparked by Shannon Scott and, all of a sudden, Indiana, who many believed to be the best team in the country heading into Tuesday night, no longer had themselves locked into a No. 1 seed.

The No. 14 Buckeyes stymied Indiana’s powerhouse offense for 40 minutes, getting timely buckets from Craft and a huge three from Deshaun Thomas with four minutes left as they beat No. 2 Indiana 67-58 on Senior Night for the Hoosiers.

That drops the Hoosiers, who held a commanding two games lead in the Big Ten race entering the day, to just one game ahead of the four teams currently sitting tied for second place. And with a trip to Ann Arbor to take on Michigan on Sunday, Indiana is going to have their work cut out for them.

Win, and Tom Crean’s club will earn an outright Big Ten regular season title.

Lose and, well, they’ll fall into a first place tie with as many as three other teams, lose control over the top seed in the Big Ten tournament and potentially cost themselves that No. 1 seed in the Big Dance.

That’s concerning, especially when you consider that Indiana has now lost two of their last three games with a less-than-inspiring win over Iowa in Assembly Hall being sandwiched by losses at Minnesota and at home to Ohio State. Or that for the first time all season, Victor Oladipo struggled in a marquee game. Or that for the second time in the span of a week, Cody Zeller got pushed around in the paint; his 17 points on Tuesday will help mask the fact that he didn’t play all that well.

The Hoosiers have some kinks to work out, but they’re going to be fine. Tonight was more about how well Ohio State played defensively than any massive issue with the Hoosiers moving forward.

But it does go to show you: even if Indiana is the best team in the country, they are anything-but unbeatable.

And right now, they are anything-but a lock for a No. 1 seed.

More than anything, that’s where the concern should lie. The Hoosiers have a chance to play in Indianapolis in the Sweet 16 and the Elite 8. That may not be a ‘home game’, but it would be a crowd made up of roughly 90% Hoosier fans. Pretty ideal, eh?

That’s what this loss may cost them.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

UNLV’s Stephen Zimmerman out with a knee injury

UNLV forward Stephen Zimmerman Jr. shoots against San Diego State during an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
(L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
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The injury Stephen Zimmerman suffered on Saturday will keep the star UNLV freshman out for at least a week, a source told NBC Sports.

The injury is not thought to be serious, however. Zimmerman may be kept out for longer as a precaution, but that’s a result of the Runnin’ Rebels being in a situation where the rest of their regular season is relatively meaningless.

They’re not getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament regardless of how they finish out league play. With back-up center Ben Carter out with a torn ACL, it’s more important to make sure that Zimmerman, who is averaging 10.6 points and 9.1 boards this season, is totally healthy for the Mountain West tournament.

That tournament, mind you, will be played at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.

So the Runnin’ Rebels, regardless of how poor they’ve played this season, will always have a chance to land an automatic bid.

Anyway, the more interesting aspect of this story is how Zimmerman injured the knee. It was a completely avoidable play that came after the whistle, but I’m not sure it was what you would call a “dirty play”. You tell me:

VIDEO: Buddy Hield is ‘all money’ on game-winning three vs. No. 24 Texas

Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) takes a shot over Oklahoma State forward Chris Oliver during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Stillwater, Okla., Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
(AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
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With a little more than three minutes left on Monday night, No. 24 Texas held a 57-51 lead on No. 3 Oklahoma in Norman as Jordan Woodard struggled again and Buddy Hield failed to find the rhythm that he had throughout the first three months of the season.

At that point in the game, Hield was 4-for-14 from the floor with 15 points and four turnovers. He had just missed a pair of wide-open threes

“I couldn’t make a shot,” Hield said after the game. But that changed down the stretch. First, Hield finally got a three to drop. On the next possession, he got all the way to the rim and scored. On the following two possessions, he was fouled on a drive to the rim and hit four free throws. And after missing a pull-up jumper, Hield did this:

“I told coach I wanted the ball,” Hield said, “I saw Lammert coming to bite, so I pulled up.”

“It’s all money.”

Hield is already the favorite to win National Player of the Year, and this performance is only going to help his cause further. Think about it like this: Buddy was not good on Monday night, at least according to his (admittedly lofty) standards. But he still finished with 27 points and shook off a cold shooting night just in time to take over down the stretch.

Now think about this: Hield’s head coach has enough confidence in him to hand him the keys in the final minutes despite the fact that he’s struggling and on a team that has two other players that Lon Kruger trusts on game-winning possessions. Think about it. When Oklahoma beat West Virginia at the buzzer, it was Jordan Woodard that the play was drawn up for. When they beat LSU, it was Isaiah Cousins that got the rock on the final possession while Hield was used as a decoy. .

Want to talk about coaching luxuries?

Kruger has three guards that can shoot, penetrate and score, and penetrate and kick, and one of them is the National Player of the Year that doesn’t mind being used as a decoy.