Indiana has already clinched at least a share of its first Big Ten regular season title since 2002. A win over Ohio State would win it outright.
This is quite an accomplishment for a team that went 3-15 in conference just two years ago.
However, Ohio State is not going to just roll over in this matchup. The Buckeyes will almost certainly make the NCAA tournament, but they still have not won a quality road game that would boost the resume.
Seeding for the Big Ten and NCAA tournament are on the line in this matchup, and both teams are certain to bring everything they can in an effort to get a big-time victory.
Here is everything you need to know about this conference battle.
When: Tuesday, March 5, at 9 p.m. ET
Where: Assembly Hall, Bloomington, Ind.
Live Stream: Watch ESPN
What They're Saying
Ohio State assistant coach Jeff Boals brought forward an interesting stat about his team on Twitter:
Jeff Boals @JeffBoals
Thad Matta-led Ohio State teams are 45-12 (.789) during March, the highest win pct. of any B1G team in that span. #GoBucks3/1/2013, 4:33:12 PM
Obviously, Thad Matta has the Buckeyes playing well in every month, but they usually peak around this time. This should keep the Hoosiers on their toes as they prepare for their final home game of the year.
Injury Report (via USA Today)
No injuries to report.
F Austin Etherington (Knee) Out for Season
Ohio State Player to Watch: Aaron Craft
Although Aaron Craft is only averaging 9.4 points per game this season, he is arguably Ohio State's most important player.
He is an elite on-ball defender that always causes trouble for opposing point guards. He is currently second in the Big Ten in steals per game.
In addition, Craft is the catalyst that helps the offense work. He came up huge in the win over Michigan State with a season-high 21 points.
The point guard does not need to put up a lot of points against Indiana, but he must be able to distribute the ball well to keep the offense flowing. Otherwise, the Buckeyes will struggle to keep pace on the scoreboard.
Indiana Player to Watch: Victor Oladipo
The National Player of the Year candidate might not necessarily be the best player on his own team, but his efficiency is simply incredible.
Victor Oladipo ranks in the top 10 in the nation in field-goal percentage and would rank similarly in three-point percentage if he had enough attempts to qualify.
He is currently second on the team with an average of 14 points per game, but he is more than content to pass the ball up and let his teammates take care of the scoring on any given night.
While Cody Zeller might be more consistent, Oladipo is the player that Ohio State needs to watch out for on Tuesday.
Matchup to Watch: Deshaun Thomas vs. Christian Watford
Deshaun Thomas leads the Big Ten in scoring at 19.8 points per game and has scored in double figures in every game this season. If he is shut down, Ohio State will have a hard time putting up points.
This could lead coach Tom Crean to put Oladipo on the forward, but Christian Watford's size might allow him to better defend the versatile forward.
Meanwhile, Watford is a talented scorer in his own right, currently ranked second in the conference in three-point shooting behind teammate Jordan Hulls. At 6'9", he is a matchup nightmare for most power forwards that are forced to guard him.
Both of these players can score in a number of ways, but whoever can stop the other defensively will really help his team in this game.
Prediction: Indiana 75, Ohio State 67
Ohio State has a lot of talent, but the squad has simply not played as well on the road as it has at home. Meanwhile, Indiana has only lost once at Assembly Hall all season.
This will be senior night for Christian Watford and Jordan Hulls, plus the likely final home game for Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo. The emotion alone will be enough to carry the Hoosiers to a win in this game.
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