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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, February 11, 2016 at 7:00 AM

Many in college basketball circled Thursday night’s huge Big 10 battle between #4 Iowa and hard charging Indiana a few weeks ago. Iowa was making a great case for a #1 seed in the Big Dance. Indiana was undefeated deep into conference play. Some of the hype has cooled off because Iowa lost to Maryland, and Indiana fell to Wisconsin and Penn State. (That latter loss for the Hoosiers was in a look-ahead spot this past weekend, and kept them out of the formal rankings at #27 in the vote tally).

Still, even with the juggernauts slowing down just a bit, this is obviously a huge game in the standings…


Big 10 Standings (Dance threats)

Iowa 10-1

Maryland 10-2

Indiana 9-2

Michigan State 7-4

Purdue 7-4

Michigan 7-4

Iowa at its best is arguably still the cream of the conference. That loss to Maryland was on the road. Indiana’s ceiling is as high as anybody’s when they’re playing well. It’s not uncommon for teams like this to hit some speed bumps in February when fatigue starts to set in. A second wind will come in advance of the tournaments. It might come as early as Thursday in Bloomington for what’s now shaping up as Indiana’s biggest home game of the season.

Let’s see what JIM HURLEY’S key indicator stats have to say about Thursday’s tussle. Can Indiana join Iowa and Maryland in the 10-win club?


Adjusted Offensive Efficiency

Iowa: 118.3 per 100 possessions (#7 in the nation)

Indiana: 114.0 per 100 possessions (#23 in the nation)

Stat guru Ken Pomeroy had Iowa rated #1 in the nation after Monday’s action. They’re excellent on both sides of the floor. His “adjusted” numbers account for pace and strength of schedule. Both of these teams have top 25 offenses, with Iowa getting the slight nod on this side of the floor all things considered.


Adjusted Defensive Efficiency

Iowa: 92.3 per 100 possessions (#11 in the nation)

Indiana: 96.3 per 100 possessions (#49 in the nation)

You can see why the computers love Iowa. The Hawkeyes are top 12 in both offense and defense. Indiana takes a step backward here in a way that’s likely to matter. As we said above…their ceiling is as high as anybody’s. But, when the shots aren’t falling their soft defense becomes a big issue. Barely making the top 50 is okay in terms of the whole sport (more than 300 teams are measured). But, once it’s elite teams playing each other, a ranking of #49 is something that has to be overcome. It can happen on any given night…but it’s difficult to string together tournament wins that way. Iowa’s more likely to go deep next month. Indiana’s going to scare the heck out of somebody at the very least.


Pace Ranking

Iowa: #119

Indiana: #103

Very similar styles here. Both are faster than average, but not out of control. Should make for an entertaining game to watch. The fact that both will be in their comfort zones will make it hard from one or the other to pull away. Indiana is hoping home court advantage will provide enough of a boost to counteract their softer defense.


Against the Spread

Iowa: 13-7

Indiana: 12-12

Indiana had a nice run going, but is now 1-3 ATS its last four after hitting a bit of a wall. Their juices should definitely be flowing here though. Iowa has covered its last three games to get back to 65% against the number. It would be five straight if not for a half-point miss in that road loss to Maryland. The market has consistently underrated the Hawkeyes all season.

Because of advance publication deadlines, it’s too early to say if Iowa/Indiana is going to be part of the NETWORK mix on Thursday. It’s certainly shaping up as one of the best games this year in the Big 10. Don’t miss the telecast! And, don’t forget that you’ll always get the BEST BETS on the board as determined by JIM HURLEY’S team of experts. Purchase those DAILY right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about extended service through the March Madness or the NBA Playoffs, please call us in the office at 1-888-777-4155 during normal business hours.

The Road to March Madness continues with more big game previews this week here in the NOTEBOOK…

Friday-Saturday: Preview…Kansas at Oklahoma

Sunday: Preview…USC at Arizona

Monday-Tuesday: West Virginia at Texas (Tuesday night)

Wednesday: Duke at North Carolina

A February Free-for-All is well underway across the nation as traditional powers are dealing with upstarts who want their own shot at glory. The stretch run of conference play is going to be wild…and that may set up one of the most unpredictable (and unforgettable) tournaments ever.

And, JIM HURLEY will be with you every step of the way providing BIG, JUICY WINNERS!


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