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Well-Rested Hoosiers Ready To Go In Big Ten Tournament

Indiana huddles up during stoppage of play against Minnesota on February 9, 2018. The Hoosiers tip off the Big Ten Tournament against the winner of No. 11 Minnesota and No. 14 Rutgers on Thursday night at 9 p.m. (Mark Timko/HN)

Six. That’s the amount of days in between Indiana men’s basketball’s regular season finale against Ohio State last Friday and its first game in the Big Ten tournament Thursday night.

This span is the longest layoff between games the Hoosiers have had since their eight-day break over the Holiday’s in late December. In this year’s jam-packed Big Ten schedule Indiana on average played every three days.

Head Coach Archie Miller said his team was beat up down the stretch. He gave them the weekend off following the double overtime loss to Ohio State and could tell the break helped when they got back to practice.

“We were an exhausted group, not so much physically but mentally, as well,” Miller said. “We had guys that were excited to be in the gym working again, just amazing sometimes when you have a couple days off just to reboot physically and mentally.”

Junior forward Juwan Morgan earned second team All-Conference honors Monday, finishing the regular season averaging 16.6 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. He echoed Miller’s sentiment of the team working hard in practice after getting the weekend off.

“Everybody just had a lot of energy,” Morgan said. “Everybody is really getting after it on both sides of the ball and everything we did, and I think it really showed and it was infectious throughout the whole team.”

All season, the Big Ten conference has received heat for condensing the conference regular season schedule just to have the tournament in New York at Madison Square Garden.

The last time Indiana played at the Garden was in 2014 against Louisville and Georgetown. Seniors Robert Johnson and Collin Hartman are the only current Hoosiers who played then and Johnson is excited to play at MSG once again.

“Really looking forward to it more than anything, to be able to play at Madison Square Garden for our tournament,” Johnson said. “You know, playing there and in the mecca of basketball always fun as far as the atmosphere, just everything surrounding the excitement of playing in New York.”

Miller had nothing but high praise for The Garden and is looking forward to the bulk of his team to experience playing there for the first time.

“It’s a fantastic place to play, I can see why our commissioner and our league work so hard to be able to get in there,” Miller said. “It’s monumental to be able to play in Madison Square Garden and being able to play a week early where you don’t have to flip the channel to see what’s going on in any other league. It should put all eyes on us this weekend.”

As far as the game goes, Indiana plays the winner of No. 11 Minnesota and No. 14 Rutgers with tip set for approximately 9 p.m. Thursday night.

Not only does Indiana get even more rest and preparation by being the last game on Thursday, but they are also familiar with these two teams, having played both in February.

Indiana beat Rutgers 65-43 (lowest points allowed this season) on Feb. 5 and Minnesota 80-56 on Feb. 9.

“It isn’t as if, you know, we caught them in December way back early when,” Miller said. “So we have a pretty good feel of playing their personnel and their team. Both teams will give us problems. The good thing is, I think with a late game, though, regardless of the circumstances, you have some time to prepare your guys.”

Having extra rest and time to prepare for a familiar opponent is all in Indiana’s favor, but Miller is more focused on his group more than anything right now.

“It’s not really about the opponent any more at this time of year,” Miller said. “So much of this time of the year is about you and how confident you are and how good you feel about what you’re doing, and that’s what we’re trying to reach once we get to Thursday.”

Zain Pyarali

I am a junior from Edwardsville, Illinois majoring in Sports Media. I formerly worked for the Indiana Daily Student for two years serving as the Sports Editor and beat reporters for Men’s Basketball, Men’s Soccer, Baseball and Field Hockey during my time with the student newspaper. Currently I am the Men’s Basketball beat reporter for IU Student Television while I also broadcast games for BTN Student U. Email me: zpyarali@thehoosiernetwork.com and follow me on Twitter: @ZainPyarali

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