This season has been a disappointing one for the Indiana Hoosiers. Coming into the season, the Hoosiers were ranked 11th in the country. Tom Crean and the crew started off with a bang, defeating Kansas to open the season in the Armed Forces Classic. The team then carried that momentum to another huge win against North Carolina in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
After a solid non-conference season, the Hoosiers opened Big Ten play with a 10-2 record and were one of the contenders to take home the Big Ten regular season title. Unfortunately for Indiana, things didn’t go as planned. The Hoosiers opened Big Ten play with two home losses against Nebraska and Wisconsin and then proceeded to go 4-5 during their first nine Big Ten games.
Things only got worse after star forward OG Anunoby went down with a season-ending knee injury in mid January against Penn State. With a short-handed team, the Hoosiers started to unravel, going 2-5 in a crucial stretch in February. Despite the disappointing season for Indiana, is there any hope for the team to make a run in this week’s conference tournament? Let's take a look.
Indiana (17-14) now stands with a 7-11 Big Ten record and 10th seed in this week’s Big Ten Tournament. The Hoosiers will matchup against 7th seeded Iowa. The game will take place on Thursday night. These two teams have only squared off once so far this season with Iowa defeating Indiana (96-90) back on February 21st at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Thursday’s game bodes well for the way Indiana likes to play. It will be a up and down game, and that’s the style the Hoosiers prefer. Tom Crean will be counting on star player Thomas Bryant to have a excellent game against a young Iowa frontline.
On the defensive end, Crean will lean on Robert Johnson to make things difficult for Peter Jok. Jok got loose for 35 points the last time these two teams played. Controlling the paint and containing Jok are the two keys for Indiana if the Hoosiers want to move on to the next round.
If They Advance
If the Hoosiers do win their opening round matchup, they will have to face Wisconsin in the quarterfinals. The Badgers have already beaten Indiana twice this season. Wisconsin has struggled as of late, losing five of seven to close the regular season.
I still like the Badgers in this matchup. Wisconsin seems to always give the Hoosiers trouble. Indiana doesn't have the discipline to defend Wisconsin for 30 to 35 secs each possession. The Hoosiers also don’t have anyone who can handle Ethan Happ.
If the Hoosiers do get by Wisconsin, their next opponent will most likely be Northwestern or Maryland. Indiana went 1-1 against Northwestern and 0-1 against Maryland this season.
I don’t like Indiana’s chances to get to Saturday or Sunday of this year’s Big Ten Tournament. They haven’t been consistent enough to justify a postseason run. If the Hoosiers do make a run to the Championship round, there is a decent chance they could end up in the NCAA Tournament because of the two non-conference Top 10 wins they have in their back pocket.
It looks like Indiana will be headed to the NIT. Will Tom Crean be back next year as head coach? Considering the injuries he’s dealt with this season, I think he’ll be back in Bloomington for at least one more year.