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How Far Can The Indiana Hoosiers Go In The NCAA Tournament?

The Big Ten regular season champs were pushed down to the 5-line, did that doom the Hoosiers' potential for a deep tourney run?

Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

The 2016 Selection Committee did not seem to be a fan a the Big Ten. One could make a case that four or five of the seven teams from the conference that received a bid were under-seeded.

But the committee is going to try its best to have Tom Crean and John Calipari kiss on national television this weekend, so I guess it's not all bad.

The Indiana Hoosiers have been one of the hardest teams to pin this season when talking about a teams prospective chances of making an NCAA run. My thought has been that the draw had to be ideal as possible. That is not the case for the Hoosiers though in the bracket.

First and foremost, they'll likely end being the most picked against five-seed across all of the bracket-picking services. The Chattanooga Mocs will try to press Indiana on Thursday, and if the Southern Conference champion succeeds in forcing a heavy amount of mistakes and turnovers, namely evoking Bad Troy Williams, the Mocs may have a chance.

However, if this backfires, Indiana will play at the fast-pace it desires and this game could be over early in the second half. I think the latter is more likely. A team with the tournament history that Indiana has had under Crean screams not being able to overlook anyone.

The East Region looks like the most likely to have its bracket go chalk in the first round, (other than Providence as the nine-seed, but 8-9 games are basically chalk either way). The chaos of this region will ensue during the first weekend, where all four games would be close to Vegas toss-ups.

Indiana's likely second round opponent would be the arch-nemesis Kentucky Wildcats. The teams haven't met in the regular season since 2011-2012, and the last game between the two was a Sweet Sixteen showdown in the 2012 tournament.

I'm sure the Committee nearly drowned its collective drool while discussing setting up a possible Yogi Ferrell vs. Tyler Ulis showdown, and while just about everyone has complained about the seeding process, we have to just face the facts that those who run sports think manufactured drama is what people want. This is a game most expect to see in the Sweet Sixteen at the earliest, not before we even get past the first weekend.

For the Hoosiers to prevail, a premium would have to placed on defense. I'm not sure Indiana wants to take its chances on a track-meet with the Wildcats. O.G. Anunoby and Troy Williams would have to step up and guard the size on the wings for Kentucky and shut them down. If Robert Johnson comes back healthy, you have to like the Hoosiers' chance more over having Nick Zeisloft have to play defense for an extended period.

If the Hoosiers do survive the first weekend, their prize will be the North Carolina Tar Heels. A lot of teams in the region, and tournament for that matter, are hoping that Providence can make some noise and send the Tar Heels packing. However, the guard combo of Marcus Paige and Joel Berry with Brice Johnson is just too much to not expect a Final Four run.

If Indiana manages to get past both Kentucky and North Carolina, well then the sky is the limit. Unfortunately, Indiana's struggles in tournament play in recent years, and this season already, doesn't instill confidence that this is the year to end the near 30-year championship drought.