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Indiana Basketball Game Preview: Nebraska – key storylines, injury report, how to watch



Indiana basketball
Previewing Indiana basketball vs Nebraska by looking at key storylines, injury reports, how to watch and other updates. (Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports)

Indiana basketball will continue play in the 2024 Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament on Friday, March 15, against the No. 3-seeded Nebraska Cornhuskers. The Hoosiers are coming off a 61-59 win over Penn State last night.

Indiana head coach Mike Woodson has led the Hoosiers to the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament in each of his first two trips to the postseason event. Woodson holds a record of 4-2 in the Big Ten Tournament.

Tip is tentatively set for 9 p.m. ET from the Target Center in Minneapolis. The game will carry a BTN broadcast.

Below is the full preview of Indiana basketball vs Nebraska.

Key Storylines

One game at a time

Indiana basketball were able to beat a team that swept them earlier this season in Penn State which resulted in them earning a date with Nebraska tonight. The Cornhuskers are another team that swept Indiana basketball this season, as well.

This will be another all task for the Hoosiers if they want to keep their NCAA Tournament hopes alive. Nebraska is a much better team that what Penn State is so Indiana is in for a much steeper challenge.  The good thing is, Indiana is riding so much momentum right now and playing like one of the best team in college basketball at the moment.

“There’s been a number of games,” Woodson said last night. ” … We just — it’s taken us a while, man, to really put it together. We had a lot of early games where teams really pushed us to the limit, and we didn’t buckle in those games. But, again, missing X during the stretch that we missed him, it just, we went into another tailspin. When we went on that four-game losing streak, man, we were all reaching and searching.

The last time Indiana played Nebraska, the Hoosiers came back from a huge deficit and were so close to completing a major comeback. Indiana cannot afford to dig themselves a hole like they did last time. In this type of setting, it will be extremely difficult for Indiana to have enough fight to make a major comeback.

The path for Indiana basketball to get to the NCAA Tournament is right in front of them now. Take it one game at a time.

Stay out of foul trouble

Let’s be honest, last night was one of the more ugly games Indiana basketball has been in this season. A big reason as to why it was so ugly? The whistles that were blow. What kind of whistles? Fouls. Lots of fouls from each team.

In total, the Hoosiers had SIX players with at least 3 fouls. Two of those six player, Malik Reneau and Mackenzie Mgbako, had 4 fouls. The starting five plus Anthony Leal all fell into this category.

Indiana cannot have this bad a foul trouble tonight vs Nebraska. A big reason as to why Penn State was able stay in the game last night was because they took advantage of the Hoosiers foul troubles.

A big emphasis needs to be placed on the frontcourt of Malik Reneau, Kel’el Ware, and Mackenzie Mgbako and them staying out of foul trouble. Indiana’s strength is that unit and if they are constantly fighting foul trouble, that is not good for the Hoosiers.

Indiana basketball has stay disciplined on the defensive end tonight.

Need another great backcourt performance 

Despite the foul trouble, the Indiana basketball backcourt was outstanding last night. Despite not having their best guard in Trey Galloway, the trio of Xavier Johnson, Gabe Cupps, and Anthony Leal stepped up in a major way.

The backcourt of Indiana basketball has been an issue all season. If Indiana was going to make a deep run in the Big Ten Tournament, they were going to need everything they could get out of their backcourt unit. Johnson played like a smart senior, Cupps hit some played like a mature guard, and Leal of course made the key plays down the stretch to seal the win. They also three defended extremely well and took care of the ball with only three turnovers.

“Again, I keep mentioning Xavier, but getting him back gives us some stability a little bit in the backcourt, and defensively we’ve picked up,” said Mike Woodson last night. “Offensively we’ve made shots. We didn’t tonight, but in the previous four games, we’ve really been shooting the ball extremely well from the three-point line, and we’ve been making our free throws.”

“So when you defend and you do those two things, we’re sharing the ball, I mean, I think in our last four games I charted, we were No. 1 in the Big Ten in assists. So everything is clicking. In order to beat teams in the Big Ten, you’ve got to play at a high level every night, man.”

Whether they have Galloway or not tonight, the backcourt unit needs to remain strong for the Hoosiers to get the upset win.

Related: Doing whatever it takes — Anthony Leal’s heroics keeps season alive for Indiana basketball: ‘We call that a pro. A true pro’

Series History

Indiana holds a 19-9 series lead over Nebraska. The two sides have met once in the Big Ten Tournament. Indiana advanced with an 89-64 win in the opening round of the 2020 tournament at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.

Nebraska, led by Big Ten Coach of the Year Fred Hoiberg, won both games against Indiana this season. The Huskers won 86-70 in Pinnacle Bank Arena on Jan. 3 before taking an 85-70 win in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall on Feb. 21.

Nebraska guard Keisei Tominaga averaged 24.0 points on .567/.421/.857 shooting splits. Sophomore center Kel’el Ware averaged 18.5 points, 11.0 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks in the two matchups.

Read: ‘It’s winning time, it’s time to win this game’: Indiana basketball’s Big Ten opening win was déjà vu from last month — just find a way.

Injury Updates

Trey Galloway: Galloway left the floor at the 12:54 mark of the first half of the Michigan State game and was visibly limping. He would not return to the floor the rest of the game. Galloway did not play in yesterday’s game vs Penn State due to a knee injury. Mike Woodson said last night that he does not know if Galloway will play at all this weekend.

Jakai Newton: Newton had a lower body surgical procedure done this past offseason to help fix a previous injury he sustained during high school. He is still recovering and is not expected to play for the rest of the season. The good news is there was video surfacing of Jakai Newton going almost full speed in a workout. He probably won’t play the rest of the season, but this a great sign. He was also dressed in full uniform in Indiana basketball’s latest game.

Watch: Mike Woodson, Kel’el Ware, Anthony Leal react to Indiana basketball’s 61-59 win vs Penn State

Quick Hitters

Who?: Indiana (19-13)  vs Nebraska (22-9)

When?: Friday March 15, 2024 • 9 p.m. ET

Where?: Target Center (17,222) • Minneapolis

TV: BTN (Brandon Gaudin, Robbie Hummel and Andy Katz)

Radio: IU Radio Network (Don Fischer, Errek Suhr, John Herrick)

Betting Lines: Indiana basketball is listed as a 4.5-point underdog via DraftKings Sportsbook.

SEE ALSO: 3 keys to a deep Big Ten Tournament run

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Kyler Staley is a Basketball Recruiting Analyst for Hoosier Illustrated, a comprehensive site covering news, updates and recruiting for Indiana University athletics. Kyler has been in the basketball recruiting industry since 2019 and is a credentialed media member. He has covered Indiana since 2021 while continuing to also work for Prep Hoops Indiana. He has previously worked for Rivals.