The 2022 NCAA Tournament tipped off on Tuesday with two intriguing First Four games. The Big Ten was also involved in the opening night of the Tournament with Indiana facing off against Wyoming for a shot at the Round of 64.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
-No. 12 Indiana Hoosiers 66, No. 12 Wyoming Cowboys 58
This one looked close on paper and largely ended up playing out that way, with Indiana scoring an eight-point win over a really tough Wyoming squad. The game was low scoring and the Hoosiers had to rely on a huge 29-point performance from Trayce Jackson-Davis to escape with the win.
The story of the game (along with Jackson-Davis’s performance) was Indiana’s defense. The Hoosiers held Wyoming to 0.88 points per possession. And while Wyoming’s big two (Graham Ike and Hunter Maldonado) combined to score 38 points, neither had a particularly efficient night. Ike had a 91 offensive rating and Maldonado was even lower with an 82.
The win pushed Indiana to 21-13 and into the Round of 64, where the Hoosiers will now face off against Saint Mary’s on Thursday night. It’ll be a quick turnaround for the program and fans, but one that could come with some promise. It’s the program’s first trip to the Round of 64 since 2016, when Tom Crean led the Hoosiers into the Big Dance.
It’s also worth acknowledging the significance of Tuesday’s win here as well, at least before moving on to the Saint Mary’s matchup. Indiana has spent much of the last decade stuck in the wilderness, searching for national relevance. And while many don’t consider winning a First Four game to be a major accomplishment, it’s a big step in the right direction for the Hoosiers. And it’s the kind of thing that can absolutely build into the future. Fans will hope Mike Woodson can use that momentum in the offseason to keep building things in Bloomington.
The Gaels will be favored on Thursday after a really stellar regular season, including an upset of top seeded Gonzaga just a few weeks ago. However, don’t count Indiana out. The Hoosiers have been really hot as of late and are playing some stellar defense. Both teams play stellar defense, so expect a low scoring affair likely determined by role players. Hoosier fans will have to hope somebody can get hot and nail a couple jumpers. That’s probably the best route to victory in that one.