The Indiana Hoosiers, once a team considered among the top 10 in the country and a chic, down-the-road Final Four team, are now operating without their best player on defense and their best player on offense.

Indiana's vital road game against Northwestern just became even more difficult, as the program announced Saturday afternoon that junior shooting guard James Blackmon Jr. will not play in the game. Blackmon, who's averaging a team-high 17.6 points in addition to 4.9 rebounds, 1.8 assists and a 43-percent clip from 3-point range, is a vital part of Indiana's team. He's out indefinitely with a lower-leg injury.

Blackmon tore his left ACL a season ago, missing more than half of Indiana's games.

Without him, Tom Crean's offense looks a lot different. And remember, IU is without OG Anunoby, who is a projected first-round pick and the Hoosiers' best defensive player. Collin Hartman, a projected starter in the preseason, has not played a game this season because of injury as well.

While the drama surrounding Duke has been a predominant storyline in college basketball this season, Indiana has had its share of ups and downs as well. The Hoosiers were an 8-1 team at one point, but now are 14-7 with a 4-4 mark in the Big Ten. In November, the debate was between the Hoosiers and Wisconsin Badgers for who would win the league. That's now off the table.

Crean's team has a tough road game against a legitimate Northwestern team on Sunday. The Hoosiers are still firmly in the NCAA Tournament picture, but that could become hazy if Blackmon's injury is serious enough to keep him out for four, five or six games. Four of IU's next seven are away from home.