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Big Ten Men’s Basketball Team Previews: Indiana Hoosiers

How can Mike Woodson get this new-look team to gel together?

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament First Round-Kent State vs Indiana David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

As we enter the fall season and college football gets underway, college basketball is right around the corner. As always, to prepare you for the season, Land-Grant Holy Land will be publishing Big Ten Team Previews and Ohio State Basketball Player Previews, starting now with the Team Previews.


Team: Indiana Hoosiers
Head coach: Mike Woodson, third season, 44-26 (21-19)
2022-23 record: 23-12 (12-8)
All-time record against Ohio State: 77-59

Returners: Xavier Johnson, Malik Reneau, CJ Gunn, Trey Galloway, Anthony Leal, Kaleb Banks

Departures: Trayce Jackson-Davis, Jalen Hood-Schifino, Race Thompson, Miller Kopp, Logan Duncomb to Xavier, Tamar Bates to Missouri, Jordan Geronimo to Maryland.

Newcomers: Jakai Newton, Gabe Cupps, Payton Sparks from Ball State, Kel’el Ware from Oregon, Anthony Walker from Miami, Mackenzie Mgbako


Outlook

Indiana will be looking to answer the age-old question: how many forwards are too many? They do get Xavier Johnson back after he missed most of last season with a broken foot, and he will be key to their offense as their full-time point guard. But other than that, there are a lot of talented but mostly unproven commodities at the guard position.

In the transfer portal, the Hoosiers brought in a ton of talent. They were able to get a late commitment from Mackenzie Mgbako, a five-star and the No. 10 recruit in the country, according to 247Sports. He was committed to Duke, but once Kyle Filipkowski returned to Durham, Mgbako went looking for a new home, and Woodson and Bloomington obliged.

They do have Trey Galloway returning, who played 27.7 minutes per game and averaged 6.7 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. Galloway will have to step into a larger role with less depth behind him this season. Tamar Bates would have been a perfect fit to help sure up the depth, but he transferred to Missouri in the offseason, leaving another hole they have to fill.

In terms of what the Hoosiers are losing, it is simple to break down. They lost their top four contributors from last season in Jackson-Davis, Hood-Schifino, Kopp, and Thompson. They reloaded in the transfer portal with talent, but all of those pieces will have to mesh together, and they will have to figure it out fast.

Gabe Cupps is an incoming guard who will look to have a role early. The 2022 Ohio Mr. Basketball is a shifty scorer who can score on all levels and play the role of facilitator.


Prediction

Anytime you lose two players like Jackson-Davis and Hood-Schifino, the rebuild will be tough. Those are two players that are almost impossible to replace.

The key to this team’s success is how well Mike Woodson can mesh this team together and how creative he can get with lineups. Outside of Xavier Johnson, the four best players on the team are all forwards and centers, and Woodson will have to navigate the best way to get all of his talent on the floor, even when they cannot all play at the same time.

Also, Trey Galloway is a solid role player who will have to take a larger step this season. All signs point to him being able to do that, and if he can, there is a lot of talent on this team to put on the floor for Woodson.

The potential is very clearly there, and they have an experienced point guard returning, but the pieces have to mesh to work correctly. That will be the challenge that the Hoosiers coaching staff faces preseason and early in the season. Also, how quickly the freshman step into roles will be important. Mgbako should be a day-one starter, but Cupps and Newton will have to become solid contributors as well.