Indiana fans are breathing a sigh of relief this morning. The Hoosiers made the tournament for the 38th time in school history. And it wasn't even that close. According to the complete listing of seeds released by the selection committee - Indiana was the #37 overall team which means they are the top #10 seed. For frame of reference - Purdue was listed as #36 overall and Ohio State was listed as #39. This is the first time in school history that Indiana has been given a double digit seed in the tournament. So can Indiana make a run in this thing? Let's check out their bracket pod for the first weekend in Omaha:
Many believe Wichita State is under seeded at #7. Keep in mind this team was a #1 seed a year ago - and they didn't really lose that much from their squad. The Shockers and Hoosiers are an incredibly interesting matchup as both teams are very guard oriented. If Hanner Mosquera-Perea is unable to go, both teams are likely to start a 6'7" player at center. For Indiana - that is a tremendous benefit as there are not many teams in the tournament that would present that kind of favorable matchup for them down low. It also means the Hoosiers are going to be able to get to the rim and not have a tremendous amount of resistance which has been a major problem for Indiana against teams with size down low.
The matchups to watch in this one will be guard oriented. The matchups of Kevin Yogi Ferrell, James Blackmon Jr., and Robert Johnson versus Ron Baker, Fred VanVleet, and Tekele Cotton are going to be special. Cotton is known as a guy who can shut down anyone and for that reason - I fully expect him to draw Ferrell as a defensive assignment. One big difference between these teams is three point shooting. The Hoosiers are ranked 8th in the country at 40.3% compared to Wichita State at 36.2% which ranks 87th. To coincide with this advantage for the Hoosiers - the Shockers rank #189 in opponents 3 point percentage giving up 34.5% shooting. If Indiana is able to connect from long range at a high rate - they have a tremendous chance to pull off this upset.
If they do happen to pull off that upset, they would most likely meet the #2 Kansas Jayhawks for the right to advance to the Sweet 16 in Cleveland. Kansas ranks #31 in 3 point percentage defense and has quite a bit more size than Wichita State - although not nearly the size of a team like Purdue that gave Indiana all kinds of problems this season. Highly touted freshman Cliff Alexander also is likely to continue to sit out due to eligibility issues and that would be one less big man the Hoosiers would need to deal with.
If the Hoosiers were to advance to the Sweet 16 - the likely opponents would be fellow Crossroad Classic members Notre Dame or Butler. In fact all five teams that made the tournament from the State of Indiana (Purdue and Valpo as well) are in the Midwest region which is crazy in and of itself. The #1 seed in the region is Kentucky who is even money in Las Vegas to win the championship. That is bad news for everyone - but that is why they play the game.
Can Indiana make a run in the NCAA Tournament? The last couple months would say no as the Hoosiers have lost 9 of their last 14 games. However, you can't overlook the Hoosiers ability to shoot the ball and that could lead to at least one upset in this tournament. The coaches and players are going to come into this tournament with an us against the world mentality and you never know what could transpire when that happens.