Following the Jimmy Valvano speech, in back-to-back games at 7:30 and 9:30, the Michigan Wolverines and Indiana Hoosiers had a chance to make a statement in front of anybody who was willing to tune into ESPN.
Neither team disappointed their home fans nor their TV viewers: Indiana obliterated North Carolina by the score of 83-59, while Michigan won a hard-fought 79-72 contest over North Carolina State.
It was a team night for Indiana and Michigan, but boy oh boy did individuals shine brightly on Tuesday night. Analysis and highlights below, plus a must-see dunk from the NBA:
Indiana Hoosiers (7-0): Tom Crean, the whole Indiana coaching staff, the players and the fans all knew this had the potential to be a statement game. Not only for this season, but for years to come; even though this UNC team is in a funk and trying to find itself, beating them by 24 points on your home floor sends a message to the rest of the country.
Despite being ranked No. 1 in the nation, they’re trying to get better and better and better as the year goes on, which is why they will never stop trying to run and score even though they’re up on a team. The Hoosiers are always trying to find something to work on, and they did a pretty good job of working last night.
IU watched a lot of film from their games in New York City at the Legends Classic, and Crean nitpicked his team into shape before it took on the Tar Heels. “He can always find something,” Cody Zeller said.
It all starts with ball pressure for the Hoosiers.
Victor Oladipo is one of the best on-ball defenders in the country and Yogi Ferrell is quickly turning into a defensive sensation for the Hoosiers, as he has the quick feet and activity level to pressure his man whether he has the ball or not; his motor runs hot all the time.
Speaking of ball pressure, Cody Zeller showcased his uncanny ability to hedge in pick-and-roll situations to stop dribble penetration, which is a skill NBA scouts have to be fawning over. Zeller has excellent anticipation skills to go with his sizable yet growing frame.
There was one play in the first half where he was running with his man back on defense, realized there was a loose ball forced by Yogi to his right and scooped it up in a split second.
Most big men simply don’t have this presence of mind.