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Indiana Could Fire Tom Crean If Lose To Northwestern
Seventh-seeded Indiana faces a must-win game in its Big Ten Tournament opener at the United Center in Chicago on Thursday against No. 10 Northwestern as a loss officially ends IU's chances of getting an at-large NCAA Tournament bid, while a win at least keeps hope alive. And a win over the Wildcats and then against second-seeded Maryland on Friday would likely get Indiana in. The Hoosiers are 3.5-piont favorites against NU on BetOnline.
The Hoosiers dropped four of their last five games to wrap up the regular season, including a 74-72 home decision to Michigan State on Saturday. The Indiana AD has said Crean's job is safe and the coach has a massive buyout, but the fans are calling for his head and that will only get worse with a loss. IU (19-12, 9-9) finished third in the nation and led the Big Ten shooting 41.0 from 3-point range. IU was eighth in the nation in 3-point field goals made per game at 9.4, which also led the Big Ten. IU also led the conference in scoring at 78.0.
Junior Yogi Ferrell has a school-record 62-game streak of making at least one 3-point field goal. That is the longest active streak in the nation. Ferrell was 6th in the Big Ten in scoring (16.0), 4th in assists (5.0), 8th in three-point percentage (42.0) and 4th in three-point field goals made (2.4).
NU finished tied with Minnesota for 10th place in the Big Ten during the regular season but earned the 10 seed thanks to a head-to-head victory over the Golden Gophers during the only matchup between the teams this season. The Wildcats dropped their regular-season finale 69-52 at Iowa on Saturday. Tre Demps led NU with 15 points, including becoming the 32nd player in school history to surpass 1,000 career points.
Northwestern upset the Hoosiers 72-65 in Evanston on Feb. 25, at one point holding IU more than 10 minutes without a point. The Hoosiers needed nearly 17 minutes to break 10 points scored in the second half of that game. When the Hoosiers did mount a late rally, and cut a 13-point deficit to just five in less than a minute, they had success pressing Northwestern, forcing the Wildcats to make mistakes.
"There were some really good things in that game but we lost our edge in that game. We've got to do a great job on trade depths. They took the game over in the second half and we didn't respond to it as well and that's got to be a big part of it," Crean said.
Indiana will need an improved plan for Demps, the Wildcats' leading scorer and one of the Hoosiers' tormentors over the last two seasons. Demps scored 23 points on 8-of-12 shooting in his team's win over Indiana last month. The junior, who averages 12.8 points per game, has scored 19 per in the last three meetings between Indiana and Northwestern.
Key betting trends: Wildcats are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 vs. Big Ten. Wildcats are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 neutral site games. Wildcats are 2-8 ATS in their last 10 Thursday games. Hoosiers are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games following a S.U. loss. Hoosiers are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games overall.
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