Ohio State and Indiana Conclude Regular Seasons With Different Results

By James Grega on February 22, 2018 at 8:35 am
Keita Bates-Diop

When Archie Miller left Dayton for Indiana following the 2016-17 season, it was viewed by many that Ohio State had missed out on its future head coach. 

Thad Matta's program had started to deteriorate, along with its recruiting classes and Miller was thought to be the clear choice to replace him. Instead, Indiana moved quickly, dismissing Tom Crean on March 16 and hiring Miller 11 days later.

In Columbus, Matta was retained until early June when it became clear to athletic director Gene Smith that a change needed to be made. Chris Holtmann's hiring was viewed largely as a success, but the 'What if?' questions surrounding what could have been with Miller were already being asked. 

As the 2017-18 season comes to an end, however, those questions have since been silenced. 

Holtmann's first Ohio State team is still in contention for a Big Ten title, while Miller's Hoosiers are right around where everyone thought they would be, in the middle of the Big Ten and an outside shot at an NCAA Tournament appearance. 

The first meeting between the two first year head coaches saw Ohio State dominate from start to finish in a 71-56 victory. The second matchup, set for 8 p.m. in Bloomington, Ind., will be the final regular season game for both schools, as the Buckeyes try to remain in contention for a Big Ten title while the Hoosiers are gearing up for one last gasp at adding to its tournament resume. 

If you would have told anyone that one of these two programs would be in a situation to make the tournament, and the other would be scratching and clawing its way to back into March Madness, most would have probably had Indiana as the team heading to the Big Dance. 

However, the Hoosiers suffered brutal non-conference losses to Indiana State and Fort Wayne prior to the turn of the calendar year while Holtmann's squad has knocked off a pair of top-five teams in Michigan State and Purdue, positioning themselves for at least a chance to share the conference crown with the Spartans should Tom Izzo's squad drop its regular-season finale to Wisconsin on Sunday afternoon. 

The game between Indiana and Ohio State on Friday night will also serve as a homecoming of sorts for Andrew Dakich. The Michigan graduate transfer played his high school basketball in Zionsville, Ind. His father Dan played his college basketball for Bob Knight at Indiana and also served as the interim head coach for the Hoosiers for seven games at the end of the 2007-08 season.

The matchup between the Big Ten rivals will cap a year that not many could have foreseen 12 months ago, and has been unpredictable in more ways than one. Dakich, who has already played against his alma mater in the last week, said after defeating Rutgers on Tuesday that playing his father's alma mater is just another chapter in what has been one of the more unique conference seasons in recent memory. 

"It's a meaningful game, but it is just like any other game. We are trying to put ourselves in the best position moving forward, get to 15-3 (in conference play)," Dakich said. "Throw emotions aside. Coach Holtmann (coached) against Butler, I played against Michigan. It can't get any weirder than that."

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