BIG PLAYS

The Curious NCAA Tournament Case for the Indiana Hoosiers

Will the Indiana Hoosiers make the NCAA Tournament after a roller coaster of a season?

Photo from: CNHI Sports Indiana/Terry Hutchens

There has been no team in college basketball more up-and-down than the Indiana Hoosiers this season. They came into the year expected to be near the top of the Big Ten standings and be ranked somewhere in the Top-25 teams in the country. Led by two preseason Wooden Award watch listees, senior Juwan Morgan and freshman Romeo Langford, the Hoosiers had high expectations to bounce back from a down-year in 2017-18.


Through Indiana’s first 12 games, they lived up to the hype and then some. At this point, the Hoosiers were 12-2, with their losses only being a heartbreaker at Arkansas and an expected home loss to Duke. They still were able to take down the #24 ranked Marquette and start Big Ten play 3-0.

However, after a loss at #2 Michigan, the wheels began to come off the bus for Indiana. This started a seven-game losing skid for the Hoosiers, all coming at the hands of Big Ten opponents. Several of these losses were somewhat warranted (Purdue, Maryland, Michigan again), but others were bad losses on IU’s resume (Rutgers, Northwestern, Nebraska).

When Indiana was at their lowest, a glimmer of hope came for their season in East Lansing when they took down #6 Michigan State. Many thought this would turn around the Hoosiers season just when they needed it.

That turned out not to be the case. Indiana went on another losing streak, stringing together five losses in a row. Again, several losses were against top-25 teams at the time (Purdue, Iowa twice), but losses at Minnesota and at home against Ohio State seemed like nails in the coffin for IU’s postseason hopes.

Again, just when things were the bleakest for the Hoosiers, they pulled out another great win. This time they were able to defeat #19 Wisconsin in a double-overtime thriller. This got IU back to .500 on the season and may have gotten them into a winning groove. I say that because they were then able to get another huge win in their next matchup against #6 Michigan State. The Spartans had just knocked-off #2 Michigan and were in the driver’s seat of the Big Ten, making the win for Indiana look even better.

So, where does this leave the Hoosiers chance of getting a spot in the NCAA Tournament? That is the question that people have been going back-and-forth on now for months.

Most will quickly turn to Indiana’s record to point out why they should be on the outside looking in at March Madness. Just three games ago the Hoosiers were under .500 on the season and were second to last in the Big Ten standings. Their latest win at Illinois got them up to ninth in the conference and would need to close out the season with a win against Rutgers if they want any chance of getting into the tournament. They would enter the Big Ten 18-14 overall and if they could steal a game then there would build a much stronger case for them to get in the tournament.

While they do not have a great record, they do have several very good wins along with no horrible losses. They have four wins against top-25 teams, and another against a Louisville team currently ranked 24th.Their losses to teams low in the Big Ten standings aren’t great, but they also aren’t awful. Indiana’s worst loss of the season is to Rutgers, who is still ranked 83rd in the College Basketball Power Index (BPI), 

When comparing the Hoosiers to other bubble teams, their quadrant one wins and no quadrant three or four losses. 

are something that might stand out to the committee.

There are a few “musts” if the Hoosiers want any chance of getting into the tournament: they have to close out the seasons at Rutgers with a win, they have to win a game in the Big Ten Tournament, and they have to hope that their tough schedule and notable wins standout more than their bad losses.

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