Earlier this season we did a friendly Q&A with That Blog Down South in the Crimson Quarry. Since the second installment of The Rivalry takes place tomorrow night we got together for round two of a Q&A. My answers to their questions were up yesterday over there, but here Are Ben's answers to my questions:
T-Mill: It looks like we saw good IU on Sunday night when they were raining threes on Minnesota. Was that a product of Indiana shooting well or Minnesota playing poor defense?
Ben: I don't think it had to to with a poor defense from Minnesota - after all, the Hoosiers turned the ball over 18 times in the game on Sunday, so we'll have to be more careful with the ball on Thursday. I think ultimately, Sunday's game came down to: 1) Indiana's record-breaking shooting night (18 made threes is a new school and B1G record), 2) Minnesota not capitalizing on the aforementioned turnovers, and 3) outrebounding Minnesota 35-16.
T-Mill: With Perea back how does Indiana's gameplan against Hammons and Haas change?
Ben: Tom Crean reminded the fans on his radio show tonight that Perea hasn't played in either of the last two Purdue games (suspension last year, injury this year). It will definitely make a difference having Perea back, and his defense has improved as the season has gone on; however, he needs to avoid early foul trouble in order to be effective. I am curious whether Crean will start him or Collin Hartman in the 5 sloton Thursday night - either way, the Hoosiers can't let Hammons have another 8 blocks during this game.
T-Mill: Indiana is pretty solidly in the NCAA Tournament as even Eastern Washington is not a terrible loss right now. What is their best case seeding scenario?
Ben: This morning, Jerry Palm had the Hoosiers as a 5-seed. Even if we win out, I can't see us higher than a 4-seed, and more realistically, I see IU getting a 7-seed. My hope in this situation would be that we win our first game then face either Gonzaga or Villanova in the next round - the Zags often struggle in the tournament, and we match up well sizewise against Nova. But obviously, the big thing at this point of the season is not to get complacent. The selection committee hates teams that sputter down the stretch, and the Hoosiers need every win that they can get in the final five games.
T-Mill: Ferrell and Blackmon did not get going in the irst game until it was too late, and now they're both playing well. Do they keep that going on Thursday.
Ben: Yogi has embraced the role of veteran leader of this team this season. I think Yogi realizes when the Hoosiers are shooting it and moving the ball well, along with when he has to take some more control of a game. He has been everything the Hoosiers have asked for in a floor general this season, which made it doubly upsetting when his final shot didn't fall to win the game at Maryland last Wednesday.
As for Blackmon, I'm starting to call him HOME GAMES JAMES because he has performed better at Assembly Hall than on the road for the most part. Luckily, 3 of our final 5 games are at home. His play has been overshadowed a little because of the emergence of D'Angelo Russell, but he's still a valuable asset to this Hoosier team, and a strong backcourt can take you places in the postseason - just look at what Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright did for UConn last year.
T-Mill: A quick baseball question with two parts: 1. How did Indiana maintain its momentum from its "dream" season two years ago where Purdue could not, and two, how ridiculous is it that the schools have played once in the past four years and haven't even done a neutral site game at Victory Field?
Ben: Indiana maintained its momentum from its surprise 2013 CWS run because the Hoosiers brought back several top players, and spent the year convinced that this result wasn't good enough. Ultimately, the Hoosiers fell short in their regional thanks to some arcane NCAA rule that made Stanford the home team in the final game at IU, and we lost on a walkoff home run. Still, it was a successful season, but with the stars from last season (Kyle Schwarber, Sam Travis, and Joey DiNato) now gone, as well as skipper Tracy Smith departing for Arizona State, the Hoosiers have some holes to fill this year. However, the future looks bright this year as IU won 2 of 3 at Stanford to start out their season.
As for the scheduling, I agree that it's ridiculous that we don't play each other often enough, and I love the idea of a game at Victory Field.
T-Mill: How angry do the natives get if Purdue gets the sweep on Thursday?
Ben: There will definitely be some restlessness, some calls for Crean's head, and the obligatory "CAN'T RECRUIT BIG MEN" chatter if IU loses at home to Purdue on Thursday. That being said, even if IU loses Thursday I think we're in good shape down the stretch, with Rutgers and Northwestern being up next on the schedule, followed by an Iowa team that can't seem to get out of their own way. In short, BOFA the teams would love a victory on Thursday, and we know how DEEZ rivalry games can get, so hopefully the Assembly Hall crowd will be going NUTS.
If IU loses, I also look forward to the first 100 comments on our game recap thread to be from H&R regulars.
T-Mill: Finally, your prediction?
Ben: I hate to say it, but I'm picking Purdue on Thursday night, 78-70. With Perea back, IU will be a little better on the glass, but it won't be enough, as the shots will not be as free falling as they were on Sunday, and the Boilers will still dominate the Hoosiers in size and control the tempo. However, I do think IU will rebound from this game and win their next three, which should be more than enough to clinch a 7 or 8 seed in the tournament.