What is Dispatches from Blogfrica? Pretty simple: I ask questions of an blogger for an opposing team; he answers. A truly revolutionary idea, no? Today: Ben at The Crimson Quarry, SB Nation's fine blog for all things Indiana.
1) Last Tuesday, when this game was supposed to be played, it was raining metal (or at least a piece of metal) in the skies over Assembly Hall. This Tuesday, during Iowa's game with Minnesota, it was raining threes. Can you assure me that there will be clear skies in Assembly Hall this evening?
BEN: Everyone has been saying all season that the sky's been falling for IU hoops. Last Tuesday, it literally did. Luckily it happened six hours before game time and no one was hurt, but here's hoping everything is okay to go tonight. The only thing I can assure you is that it will be raining flags at the under-8 second half media timeout in Assembly Hall.
2) More seriously, both Iowa and Indiana are in the middle of a rapid-fire schedule: games last Saturday andTuesday night, a game tonight, and another game on Sunday afternoon. How is Indiana coping with that busy stretch of games? Are you worried about fatigue being an issue tonight?
BEN: Definitely worried about that, especially since their last two games were both on the road, and Tuesday's was a late start. Since the game starts at 9 eastern/8 central tonight, and we haven't had a home game in 15 days, hopefully the fans at Assembly Hall will be fired up for this one, and that energy can carry over to the team.
3) Indiana ended a three-game losing streak with a grind-it-out road win over Northwestern last weekend, but they lost again in Tuesday night's game with Wisconsin. What went right in the win over Northwestern -- what can Indiana look to build on from that performance? And what went wrong in the Wisconsin game, especially the second half -- it was a close game at the half.
BEN: Tom Crean preaches toughness a lot of his Twitter account, and on Saturday the team remained tough and maintained a second half lead, despite the distration of the ugly light urple Welsh-Ryan court paint job. A team desperate for a win finally got one, and got revenge after the Wildcats beat us in Assembly Hall last month. As for Wisconsin, the Badgers started making shots and made the right adjustments, and as has been the trend this season in the second half, we couldn't keep up. Etherington getting into foul trouble didn't help either. IU didn't have as many turnovers as usual against Wisconsin, but we still outnumbered them by far in that category, and they got to line much more often that we did (Thanks, TV Teddy!). Did you know IU hasn't won in Madison since Bob Knight was coach in 1998? That's going on 15 years now.
4) You have a Yogi (Ferrell). Have any of this teammates taken the nickname Boo Boo yet? Has Tom Crean ever considered wearing a Ranger Smith-style hat? It would do a nice job of covering up that... interesting... hair that he has.
BEN: Yogi should take it next level and start bringing a pic-a-nic baskets to press conferences. As for Crean, I think he should choose something from Pharrell's hat collection.
5) Is there any sort of expectation for a postseason appearance for this Hoosier team -- NIT? CBI? Is that something Indiana fans want or would they rather just put this season out of its misery and move on to thinking about next year?
BEN: Unless we make a B1G tourney run, it looks like you can't spell "Indiana Basketball" without N-I-T. Obviously fans are excited that James Blackmon Jr. is coming to B-Town in the fall. But if Vonleh turns pro, which is a distinct possibility, who else will we have in the frontcourt next year besides Hanner?
6) OK, prediction time -- who ya got?
BEN: Iowa seems desperate for a win after their last two games, and I don't know if the Hoosiers can keep up with the Hawkeyes' ability to score points. As for a prediction, I'm a Philly sports fan by birth and thus I'm pessimistic in nature, so I'll say Iowa takes it by 7.
Thanks for being a good sport, Ben, although I still hope your team loses by 50 tonight. You can check out Ben and the rest of the TCQ crew at The Crimson Quarry. You can also follow Ben on Twitter @VT_Ben and at TCQ at @crimsonquarry. The Iowa-Indiana game is in Bloomington, IN on Thursday, February 27, and is scheduled to start at 8:00 pm CT, with television coverage from ESPN.