No. 19-ranked Indiana has a decorated past and checks all the boxes as a college basketball blueblood. But the Hoosiers, for all their success, have never won the Big Ten tournament.
Since 1998, when the event kicked off, Indiana has reached the final only once, losing to Iowa in 2001.
Is this finally the year? The quest for third-seeded Indiana (21-10) will begin Friday night in Chicago with a quarterfinal game against sixth-seeded Maryland (21-11).
The Hoosiers put themselves in a strong position by earning a prized double bye, which came by virtue of a 75-73 overtime win Sunday against visiting Michigan.
In his final game at Assembly Hall, Trayce Jackson-Davis had 27 points, nine rebounds and six assists.
The Hoosiers rallied from a 12-point, second-half deficit and got to overtime on a 3-pointer by Big Ten Freshman of the Year Jalen Hood-Schifino with 59 seconds left.
The win completed an inconsistent end of the season for the Hoosiers, who beat regular-season champion Purdue twice in February but also lost at Northwestern and Michigan State and fell by 22 points on Feb. 28 at home against Iowa.
“I just think that’s the story of how our team has been this year,” Jackson-Davis said. “We have had some ups and downs and it’s been a roller coaster, but we fight.”
As for its matchup with Maryland, Indiana fell 66-55 on the road on Jan. 31 as Jahmir Young scored 20 points and Donta Scott added 19 points to lead the Terrapins. Jackson-Davis paced the Hoosiers with 18 points and 20 rebounds.
On Thursday night, Maryland took care of 14th-seeded Minnesota 70-54 as Scott scored 16 of his 20 points before halftime and Young scored 14 of his 15 points following the break.
It was a nice rebound for the Terrapins, who played listlessly in a loss last week at Ohio State and then blew a 15-point lead in the second half Sunday while falling at Penn State.
“We came out with a great mindset,” Maryland coach Kevin Willard said following the Minnesota game. “I look at Penn State and Ohio State playing really good. Those are our last two losses. I thought we were playing good basketball, so I really wasn’t worried about anything.”
Julian Reese added 10 points and eight rebounds on Thursday, helping the Terrapins to a 31-24 edge on the boards.
The emergence of Reese has been an important development for a team lacking front-court presence. After averaging 9.7 points and 5.9 rebounds over nine games in January, he averaged 14.0 points and 8.8 rebounds in the Terrapins’ final nine regular-season games.
Reese’s matchup with Jackson-Davis on Friday could swing the game. Both are 6-foot-9 left-handers who do most of their work close to the basket.
“I think having to face Zach (Edey of Purdue), Hunter (Dickinson of Michigan) and Trayce really helped him develop, really helped him gain confidence,” Willard said.
For Indiana to win, it likely will need Jackson-Davis to come up big.
“Without him, we’d be lost,” Indiana coach Mike Woodson said Tuesday. “We kind of ride his coattail.”
–Field Level Media