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2013-2014 Season Preview: No. 25 Indiana Hoosiers

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All month long, CBT will be rolling out our 2013-2014 season preview. Check back throughout the day, as we’ll be posting three or four preview items every day.

To browse through the preview posts we’ve already published, click here. The rest of our Top 25 Countdown can be found here. For a schedule of our previews for the month, click here.

Last Season: 29-7, 14-4 Big Ten (1st); Lost in the Sweet 16 to Syracuse

Head Coach: Tom Crean (6th season at Indiana: 84-82, 33-57 Big Ten)

Key Losses: Cody Zeller, Victor Oladipo, Christian Watford, Jordy Hulls, Remy Abell, Mo Creek

Newcomers: Noah Vonleh, Troy Williams, Stanford Robinson, Luke Fischer, Evan Gordon, Devin Davis, Colin Hartman

Projected Lineup

 G: Yogi Ferrell, So.
G: Will Sheehey, Sr.
– F: Jeremy Holloway, So.
– F: Noah Vonleh, Fr.
– C: Luke Fischer, Fr.
– Bench: Evan Gordon, Sr.; Stanford Robinson, Fr.; Troy Williams, Fr.; Hanner Mosquera-Perea, So.; Austin Etherington, So.

They’ll be good because …: Indiana certainly has enough talent on their roster, as Tom Crean once again brought in a recruiting class that ranked as one of the best in the country. What that means is that the Hoosiers can go 10 deep before you even consider the likes of Peter Jurkin, Devin Davis and Collin Hartman. Noah Vonleh is a top ten recruit with a chance to be a lottery pick whenever he leaves school, Yogi Ferrell should have a big season as he’ll be expected to shoulder more of the offensive load and Will Sheehey is one of the more underrated wings in the country.

Jeremy Hollowell, Luke Fischer, Troy Williams, Stan Robinson and Hanner Mosquera-Perea are all kids that, with time, should develop into big-time contributors for the Hoosiers. Without question, Indiana has the pieces to remain a contender in the Big Ten.

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But they might disappoint because …: The most important two words in the entire paragraph above are “with time”. The Hoosiers will be one of the youngest, most inexperienced teams in the country next season, especially up front. Ferrell is a sophomore and started at the point last season, which makes him an old man in college basketball these days, and the senior duo of Sheehey and Arizona State transfer Evan Gordon should give Tom Crean some veteran leadership in the back court.

Up front is a different story. Vonleh, Fischer and Williams are freshmen. Mosquera-Perea and Hollowell are sophomores that saw limited minutes last year. That group is loaded with talent and potential, but just how effective they end up being in their first season playing (or playing big minutes) at the college level is yet to be seen.

Outlook: Indiana has a ton of moving parts this season, and just how the starting lineup and rotation shakes out is yet to be determined. At this point, there are a couple assumptions we can make: Ferrell will have the ball in his hands the majority of the time as he’s the only point guard on the roster, Vonleh is as close to a sure thing as freshmen get, and Sheehey will play major minutes in the role vacated by Victor Oladipo.

Beyond that, however, there is a lot unknown. Indiana isn’t looking simply to replace a couple pieces from last year. They don’t simply need to fill a couple roles. This is an entirely new team. Their top four scorers — Oladipo, Cody Zeller, Christian Watford and Jordy Hulls — from last season are gone, and how the pieces that Crean has amassed will fit together is one of the most intriguing story lines in the Big Ten this season. Can Robinson take over the shooting guard role by the end of the year? Does the uber-athletic Williams have enough skill to be a factor in the Big Ten in his first season? Is Fischer strong enough to take over for Cody Zeller in the paint? Did Hollowell put in the work this offseason to build off of a strong finish to his freshman season?

One thing I’m sure of: Indiana is going to look different on March 8th than they do on November 8th. Will that be a good thing or a bad thing for Hoosier fans?

Wesley Iwundu, Kansas State knock off No. 1 Oklahoma

Kansa State forward Wesley Iwundu (25) pulls down a rebound against Mississippi during an NCAA college basketball game in Manhattan, Kansas, Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016. (Bo Rader /The Wichita Eagle via AP) LOCAL TELEVISION OUT; MAGS OUT; LOCAL RADIO OUT; LOCAL INTERNET OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT
Bo Rader /The Wichita Eagle via AP
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One of the big questions regarding No. 1 Oklahoma was how they’d handle an off shooting night. On multiple occasions this season the Sooners have managed to win in spite of a subpar effort from one of their guards, thanks in large part to national Player of the Year frontrunner Buddy Hield. But what would they do against a team that managed to limit Hield (by his standards)?

That’s what happened at Kansas State Saturday night, and the Sooners did not have the right answers for the Wildcats on either end of the floor. Wesley Iwundu scored 22 points, dished out seven assists and played excellent defense on Hield throughout the game to lead the way. And freshman forward Dean Wade chipped in with 17 points and seven rebounds off the bench as the Wildcats won by the final score of 80-69.

Hield scored 23 points but did so on 7-for-16 shooting, and a lot of that damage was done during the second half as he scored 17 points during the game’s final 20 minutes. But it wasn’t enough as the Sooners didn’t get much from anyone other than Ryan Spangler (nine points) as they looked to mount a comeback. Jordan Woodard, who’s been a consistent supplementary scoring option this season, went scoreless Saturday and that essentially left Oklahoma with three scorers (Hield, Ryan Spangler and Isaiah Cousins).

It’s highly unlikely that anyone’s going to completely take away Hield; the key there is to make him work for everything he gets and the long, athletic Iwundu managed to do that. But if you can take away one (or more) of Oklahoma’s supplementary scorers you’ve got a shot at knocking them off.

Oklahoma also had issues defensively, as the Wildcats shot 52.9 percent from the field. Iwundu was very good at finding scoring opportunities not only for himself but for his teammates as well, and in the post players such as Wade and B.J. Johnson were effective against Spangler, Khadeem Lattin and Akolda Manyang. Kansas State outplayed Oklahoma in the post, and their execution offensively helped the Wildcats pull off the upset despite committing 15 turnovers.

If not for those turnovers the margin likely would have been worse for Oklahoma, which scored 26 points off of Kansas State turnovers and many of its 15 fast break points came via K-State mistakes. The Sooners are lethal in transition, something we’ve seen on many occasions this season. Kansas State, when they didn’t turn the ball over, kept Oklahoma from running out and finding the quality looks that have made them so successful.

As a result, Bruce Weber’s Wildcats made sure that Hield and his fellow Oklahoma seniors will graduate without a win in Manhattan.

Ryan Anderson, Gabe York pace No. 23 Arizona at Washington

Arizona's Ryan Anderson (12) dunks against Washington State's Conor Clifford (42) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016, in Pullman, Wash. Arizona won 79-64. (AP Photo/Young Kwak)
College basketball is better when the Arizona-Washington rivalry is relevant, and we got a perfect example of that on Saturday, as No. 23 Arizona landed an important, 77-72 win at Washington in a ugly-but-thrilling game. Washington has one of the nation's most high-octane, uptempo offenses, as Lorenzo Romar does what he can to maximize the pieces that he has on his roster. Andrew Andrews and DeJounte Murray make up one of the nation's most talented backcourts, and when combined with the myriad of athletes of populate the rest of the roster, what you get is a team that is top five in pace, according to KenPom.com. What they don't have is much strength in the paint, and Ryan Anderson took complete advantage of that. The fifth-year senior had arguably his best game as a Wildcats, finishing with 22 points and 15 boards -- eight offensive -- to pace Arizona. Gabe York added 18 points as well, which is a great sign for the Wildcats. The knock on this team has been that they don't have a star or a go-to guy, and two of them stepped up in a tough road game on Saturday. Perhaps more importantly, it was Kadeem Allen that his the biggest shot of the game, hitting a three to break a 70-all tie with a minute left in the game. And should we mention that Allonzo Trier, who was Arizona's leading scorer when he broke his hand a month ago, returned to the lineup? Yeah, we probably should, because Trier is the best one-on-one player that Sean Miller has on his roster. All-in-all, this was a promising road trip for Arizona, who got swept at home by the Oregon schools last weekend. I'm not sure that Arizona, who is still two games back of Oregon in the Pac-12 standings, has a real shot of winning the league's regular season title. But I am sure that, when they're at full-strength and playing well, the Wildcats are good enough to win the Pac-12 tournament and get to the second weekend of the NCAA tournament.
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College basketball is better when the Arizona-Washington rivalry is relevant, and we got a perfect example of that on Saturday, as No. 23 Arizona landed an important, 77-72 win at Washington in a ugly-but-thrilling game.

Washington has one of the nation’s most high-octane, uptempo offenses, as Lorenzo Romar does what he can to maximize the pieces that he has on his roster. Andrew Andrews and DeJounte Murray make up one of the nation’s most talented backcourts, and when combined with the myriad of athletes of populate the rest of the roster, what you get is a team that is top five in pace, according to KenPom.com.

What they don’t have is much strength in the paint, and Ryan Anderson took complete advantage of that.

The fifth-year senior had arguably his best game as a Wildcats, finishing with 22 points and 15 boards — eight offensive — to pace Arizona. Gabe York added 18 points as well, which is a great sign for the Wildcats. The knock on this team has been that they don’t have a star or a go-to guy, and two of them stepped up in a tough road game on Saturday.

Perhaps more importantly, it was Kadeem Allen that his the biggest shot of the game, hitting a three to break a 70-all tie with a minute left in the game.

And should we mention that Allonzo Trier, who was Arizona’s leading scorer when he broke his hand a month ago, returned to the lineup? Yeah, we probably should, because Trier is the best one-on-one player that Sean Miller has on his roster.

All-in-all, this was a promising road trip for Arizona, who got swept at home by the Oregon schools last weekend.

I’m not sure that Arizona, who is still two games back of Oregon in the Pac-12 standings, has a real shot of winning the league’s regular season title.

But I am sure that, when they’re at full-strength and playing well, the Wildcats are good enough to win the Pac-12 tournament and get to the second weekend of the NCAA tournament.