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Indiana Hoosiers forward Trayce Jackson-Davis (23) and guard Trey Galloway (32) celebrate. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire)
March 17th, 2022
The 12th-seeded Indiana Hoosiers survived the First Four to advance to Thursday's first-round game against No. 5 Saint Mary's in an East Region matchup set for tipoff at 7:20 p.m. ET in Portland, Oregon.
Indiana kept the momentum rolling in its First Four battle with Wyoming. While the Hoosiers were outshot by the Cowboys and hit just 15.4% from deep and 60% from the free-throw line, IU's defense made the difference.
Mike Woodson's team forced 19 turnovers and grabbed 39 boards in a 66-58 win. Star forward Trayce Jackson-Davis pulled down nine of those rebounds and led all scorers with 29 points on 10-of-16 shooting.
Trayce Jackson-Davis had a monster night.🔥 29 PTS🔥 9 REB🔥 Indiana wins 66-58 pic.twitter.com/L44j2UHV6a— SLAM University (@slam_university) March 16, 2022
Trayce Jackson-Davis had a monster night.🔥 29 PTS🔥 9 REB🔥 Indiana wins 66-58 pic.twitter.com/L44j2UHV6a
To defeat Saint Mary's, the Hoosiers will need a similar defensive performance in order to create points off turnovers. The Gaels have held opponents to 61.2 points per contest, the 12th-best mark in the country, so scoring will come at a premium for an Indiana team that struggles to make shots.
The lack of rest may also impede Indiana's ability to grind Saint Mary's to a halt. The Gaels arrived in Portland on Tuesday to prepare for their first-round matchup and have not played since their 82-69 defeat to Gonzaga in the West Coast Conference Tournament final on March 8. Indiana was in Dayton, Ohio for its First Four meeting with Wyoming and flew to Portland on Wednesday morning after experiencing a three-hour flight delay that could have the Hoosiers feeling extra spent on Thursday.
Since IU's last appearance in the NCAA Tournament in 2016, the program went through a down period under the guidance of Archie Miller, but has undergone a major turnaround in Woodson's first year at the helm.
The 2021-22 season has been filled with ups and downs, but Indiana seemingly hit its stride in the beginning of March, with two narrow losses to Rutgers and Purdue, two wins against Michigan and Illinois, and a brutal last-second defeat to Iowa in the Big Ten Conference Tournament semifinal.
The Hoosiers are headed to the semis!Indiana upsets top-seed Illinois to win multiple Big Ten tourney games for the first time in 19 years‼️ pic.twitter.com/UEcBv3dCuy— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 11, 2022
The Hoosiers are headed to the semis!Indiana upsets top-seed Illinois to win multiple Big Ten tourney games for the first time in 19 years‼️ pic.twitter.com/UEcBv3dCuy
While the Hoosiers have proven their toughness down the stretch, Thursday's contest will mark the fifth game in seven days for the team, and will likely spell the end of their run.
Saint Mary's will come into the first round fresh and eager to prove its worthiness as a fifth seed — the highest seeding in head coach Randy Bennett's eight appearances in the NCAA Tournament.
Look for the Gaels to hit enough shots, and Indiana to miss enough free throws, for Saint Mary's to pull out a win and head to a second-round matchup against either No. 4 UCLA or No. 13 Akron.
Score prediction: Saint Mary's 65, Indiana 63
Our predictive engine is calling for Saint Mary's to win outright.
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