It is worth repeating, but who would have thought the Indiana Hoosiers would be in this position 15 weeks ago. Back then, the Hoosiers were fresh off a complete disappointment in the Maui Invitational and a historically bad defensive performance against the Duke Blue Devils.
Hoosier Nation was collectively hitting Tom Crean in the face with a glowing "EXIT" sign yelling for him to take the hint. Flash-forward to present day, and the now Big Ten Champions are just four wins away from having their One Shining Moment.
Arch-rival Kentucky has been cast aside as the national audience begins to realize the true talent on this Indiana roster. Yogi Ferrell was a known, and hyped up weapon entering the tournament and he has not disappointed. Ferrell has scored 38 points and dropped 14 assists.
The freshmen Thomas Bryant and O.G. Anunoby have thrived in the national spotlight. Bryant has scored 32 points, while showing his emotions on his jersey, just has he has done all season, but now he exuberates confidence and a comfortableness on the court that comes with playing a full season. Compare that to early in the year, when Bryant was visibly upset with any call against him, and on more than one occasion getting in a teammates face.
The question at hand is how far can Indiana go from here. Standing in its immediate path is the now co-favorite to win the whole thing, the North Carolina Tar Heels. The good thing for the Hoosiers, is that they actually match up pretty well, size-wise with the Tar Heels. Ferrell should cancel out either Marcus Paige or Joel Berry II in terms of point output.
Brice Johnson is the kind of player that can take over a game, and it will be interesting to see who draws the duties of guarding him for the Hoosiers. For the most part we have seen Good Troy Williams, but Bad Troy has been lingering, averaging 4 turnovers per game in the tournament. Along with Williams, Colin Hartman and Max Bielfeldt must neutralize North Carolina's size on the wings.
If Indiana gets past North Carolina, then Indiana has to become a favorite to, at the very least, go to the Final Four. The Hoosiers already hold wins over their two possible Elite opponents; the Notre Dame FIghting Irish and fellow Big Ten team the Wisconsin Badgers.
Indiana could carry that moment into a likely game with the Virginia Cavaliers, where Indiana should just try to outrun and force the Cavaliers to play at a place they're not comfortable at. Then in the final, well, the South has a lot to still be decided, and I've got Oklahoma coming out of the West.
"What about Oregon," yells someone from the back of the room. And to that I respond, "Will security please remove the drunk toddler from the vicinity."