Indiana Hoosiers (0-0) vs Florida Gulf Coast Eagles (0-0)
2023-11-07 18:30:00 EDT
The Line: Betting Odds: Indiana Hoosiers -- Over/Under:
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Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall will be abuzz as the Indiana Hoosiers open their house to the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles. Indiana, looking to improve upon their roller-coaster performance from last March, is poised to start strong. The Eagles, however, have a point to prove after a series of downbeat finales last season. With the Hoosiers favored heavily, the Eagles are set to test their mettle on November 7 in this season’s high-flying tip-off.
Can the Eagles fly high?
The Florida Gulf Coast Eagles, ranked #132 nationally and holding a #2 conference rank in the ASUN, are setting the hardwood ablaze with anticipation for the 2023-2024 season. After a modest 17-15 run last year without a postseason appearance, Coach Pat Chambers, with a record of 17-15 at FGCU and 207-193 overall, is gearing up for a comeback. The Eagles have spread their wings for takeoff, but they’ll sorely miss the hustle of guard Caleb Catto and Dahmir Bishop, who combined for over 13 points per game last season.
The Eagles are not short of talent with a squadron of key returners. Senior guard Isaiah Thompson is the ace, boasting 14.9 points per game. He’s flanked by fellow senior Chase Johnston, a sharpshooter with 12.7 points per game, and junior Zach Anderson, a force in the paint averaging 11.7 points and 6.7 rebounds. The roster depth continues with junior center Andre Weir and senior forward Dakota Rivers, setting up a solid frontcourt presence.
Freshman Rahmir Barno brings fresh energy, while transfers Dallion Johnson and Keeshawn Kellman add collegiate experience. Xavier Pina and Josiah Shackleford are wildcards, moving up from junior college ranks. Statistically, the team is poised to improve on their 71.2 points per game and tighten a defense that allowed 69.4 points. Their 43.7% shooting from the field needs a boost, just like their field-goal defense, allowing opponents 43.5%. The Eagles’ three-point arsenal, landing 9.2 treys per game at a 35.5% clip, remains a threat.
Indiana Basketball: 2023-24 Season Playbook
As the Hoosiers gear up for the 2023-24 showdown, the echoes of their past, marked by a 12-8 Big Ten stand and a formidable 4-seed in the Midwest Region, set the backdrop for an anticipated season under Coach Woodson’s playbook. The departure of stalwarts Trayce Jackson-Davis and Jalen Hood-Schifino, along with Miller Kopp and Race Thompson, may seem like a hard hit, yet the Hoosiers are no strangers to bouncing back. Their focus? Depth. Woodson’s strategy has led to snatching three top-tier transfers and a trio of freshmen, looking to blend with Indiana’s returners under the tutelage of Woodson.
The incoming talent is headlined by the likes of Kel’el Ware, a 7-foot tower of power from Oregon, and Payton Sparks, a rebounder from Ball State. The two will join forces with Anthony Walker from Miami. Meanwhile, the Hoosiers’ returning players boast Xavier Johnson, Trey Galloway, and Malik Reneau. Johnson’s back from injury, ready to dominate the paint with averages of 9.9 points and 4.9 assists, while Galloway and Reneau are primed to increase their court impact, leveraging last season’s averages to fuel their ascent in the starting lineup.
Indiana’s stats sheet from the previous season include a team average of 72.1 points per game, a staunch defense limiting opponents to 67.2 points, and a field goal success rate of 45.6%. However, the true test lies in maintaining this offensive rhythm while tightening up a defense that allowed a 41.7% field goal rate to adversaries.
David’s Pick – Indiana Hoosiers
The Indiana Hoosiers, despite their higher national ranking and stronger conference performance, face a rebuilding phase. Key departures leave gaps that new talent, no matter how promising, may struggle to fill promptly. Indiana’s offensive output and tighter defense (67.2 PPG allowed) from last season are commendable, but integrating fresh faces requires time – a luxury the season doesn’t afford. However, their first opponent will not create too many problems for the rebuilt Hoosiers. Florida Gulf Coast lost its share of talent and although they have also rebuilt, the level of talent is vastly different between the two. Home court, an experienced coach staff, plenty of new and old talent will be enough for the Hoosiers to open with a win.