Indiana and Victor Oladipo set to beat Michigan
The #1 Michigan Wolverines easily defeated Northwestern 68-46, and the #3 Indiana Hoosiers rolled over their rivals, the Purdue Boilermakers, 97-60.
Neither Northwestern nor Purdue is strong this year with both hovering around .500 records, so it’s no surprise that Michigan and Indiana were able to move forward with ease. (Although with the Purdue - Indiana rivalry, I expected a win by 15, not 37). Now that the formality of those games is out of the way, we can look forward to the real show – Saturday’s matchup.
I’ll go ahead and admit that I’m biased. I’m picking the Hoosiers to win this game. Regardless of any bias I may have, however, I think that I would still be picking the Hoosiers to win this game.
ESPN’s College Gameday will be visiting Bloomington this Saturday to cover the game that tips off at 9pm. This will be their second trip to Indiana in three weeks (two weeks ago it was to Hinkle Fieldhouse to cover the Butler vs. Gonzaga matchup). Students and fans will be revved up all day for the event.
Indiana will have a huge court advantage with ESPN’s presence only adding fuel to the already electric atmosphere. But it’s not simply the support they will receive from the thousands of candy-striped-pant-wearing-students. The Hoosiers have the better team on the court.
The Hoosiers are one of the deepest and most complete teams in the country. They have size down low with one of the best big men in the country in Cody Zeller. Hanner Mosquera-Perea is getting some sporadic minutes and there is the occasional Christian Watford post-up sighting. The Hoosiers also boast a fleet of long and mid-range shooters with Jordy Hulls, Will Sheehey, Remy Abel, Christian Watford, and Victor Oladipo. Add to this freshman, “Yogi” Ferrell, who gives the Hoosiers a true point guard and distributor, and the Hoosiers have an impressive array of offensive weapons.
With such an impressive and deep list of players and skill sets, it’s sometimes easy to forget when the second unit is in the game. Of course, that is assuming that you even consider them to be a “second unit.” They are a dangerous team regardless of who is on the court at any given time because they can score in so many ways with some many individuals. It shows up in the scorebook as they average 84 points per game, an impressive twenty-four point cushion over the 60 points per game they allow.
But the key to much of the Hoosiers’ success lies in the play of guard, Victor Oladipo. Oladipo does so many things so well on the basketball court that it’s difficult to put in writing. He is a tenacious defender who deflects passes, blocks shots, and consistently wreaks havoc the opposing team’s best player and entire offense. This often gets the Hoosiers out in transition, and it’s hard to make a case that anyone runs the break better than Oladipo. He has a knack for knowing when to take it all the way to the basket, stop and hit a mid-range jump shot, find Hulls open on the wing, dump it to a trailing Zeller, or pull it out and get the ball into Ferrell’s hands to start the offense. During set offenses, he has both the ability to slash to the rim off the dribble, as well as consistently knocking down shots.
When he arrived at Indiana, Oladipo was a good player with some raw skills and a lot of athleticism. Now in his junior year he has demonstrated tremendous improvement. Along with his defense (which has always been a cornerstone of his game), he has developed a consistent and dependable jump shot and three-point threat (fg: 66%, 3pt fg: 53%). His decision-making is impeccable and he has a real feel for the flow of the game. He also brings tremendous energy to the game.
In large part, the Hoosiers go as he goes. Hulls knocking down shots, Watford establishing his inside-outside presence, Zeller owning the paint, and Sheehey coming in off the bench are all important and necessary components to the Hoosiers’ success. But Oladipo’s game allows them to be on top of theirs. And I’m not betting against Oladipo. The guy is simply too good and too tenacious.
Indiana beats Michigan in an exciting game on Saturday.