March Watch: IU makes a play for No. 1 overall seed

IUUMITH0020With just 32 days remaining until Selection Sunday, it’s becoming peak season for bracketologists everywhere. Regular season conference champions will be determined over the next few weeks and teams will begin to either solidify their positions or fall out of favor with the selection committee. With that in mind, it’s time for another edition of March Watch, a look at where Indiana stands in terms of the NCAA Tournament.

Overview

Since our last update, Indiana dropped a game at Illinois, but bounced back with an impressive 13-point win at Ohio State. That win was enough to move the Hoosiers into the top spot on ESPN.com bracketologist Joe Lunardi’s s-curve ($) because teams like Florida and Michigan also lost last week.

Nitty Gritty Profile

· Record: 21-3 (9-2 Big Ten)
· RPI: 11
· SOS: 24
· Home Record: 14-1
· Away Record: 5-1
· Neutral Court Record: 2-1
· vs. RPI Top 50: 6-3
· vs. RPI Top 51-100: 2-0

Indiana’s RPI and strength of schedule both held in the same positon from our last update. As noted in previous updates, the overall RPI number for Indiana is still lower than what you might expect because 13 of IU’s 21 wins are over teams outside of the RPI top 100.

Bracket Projections

· ESPN Bracketology (Joe Lunardi): 1 seed (Midwest) vs. Southern/Bryant in Dayton
· CBS Sports (Jerry Palm): 1 seed (East) vs. Play-in game winner in Dayton
· Sports Illustrated (Andy Glockner): 1 seed (Midwest) vs. NC Central/Bryant in Lexington

All three of the brackets we track have the Hoosiers on the top line with Lunardi and Glockner sending the Hoosiers to the coveted Midwest regional in Indianapolis and Palm shipping Indiana east to Washington D.C. Palm’s update was prior to Michigan’s loss at Michigan State last night, so it’s possible that the CBS bracketologist will also move IU into the No. 1 spot in the Midwest in his next update. Michigan State, which currently sits a half-game ahead of IU in the Big Ten standings, is a team on the rise and could also make a play for the top spot in the Midwest. The Bracket Matrix, which aggregates nearly every bracket projection available, has the Hoosiers as the second No. 1 seed. Crashing the Dance, which uses brackets from the past to predict what the selection committee will do, has IU as the third No. 1 seed.

Tournament Sites (distance in miles from Bloomington in parenthesis)

· First round: Dayton (139)
· Second, third round: Auburn Hills (295), Austin (881), Dayton (139), Kansas City (435), Lexington (133), Philadelphia (608), Salt Lake City (1343), San Jose (1908)
· Regional: Arlington (723), Indianapolis (45), Los Angeles (1791), Washington D.C. (515)
· Final Four: Atlanta

  • chicohoosier

    This is all fun and games, but at this point there is still a lot of important basketball to be played.@ MSU, UM, & Minny along with OSU trying to get one back at our home will determine whether we receive a top seed or not. The team and CTC can’t start thinking about seeding and has to focus on the cliche’d “one game at a time.” This team is confident, playing great basketball, and hungry, let’s start with a Big Ten title and the rest will follow, hopefully including banner #6!

  • chicohoosier

    This is all fun and games, but at this point there is still a lot of important basketball to be played.@ MSU, UM, & Minny along with OSU trying to get one back at our home will determine whether we receive a top seed or not. The team and CTC can’t start thinking about seeding and has to focus on the cliche’d “one game at a time.” This team is confident, playing great basketball, and hungry, let’s start with a Big Ten title and the rest will follow, hopefully including banner #6!

  • Robert Nemanich

    Still kind of early for any concrete thoughts but definitely IU is on track for one of the top four seeds. I have to say that upon holding serve at home this week, the game with MSU will mean as much in this consideration as any. IU will then have a chance in separating themselves from the pack and their closest competitor in the regular season. Each game then builds in pay off and implication, road or home. I am more pleased seeing Zeller now make post up basketball moves with a turn-around and dribble driving instead of being on the receiving end of a pass or foul. As I thought UM has hit that Feb wall that many freshman dominated teams do. They will recover however but they are not in position going forward.

  • WhatsUpKnight

    very good point, i look at their remaining schedule and cringe. after these next two games (ignoring the ‘one game at a time’ cliche), it’s going to be all nail biters the rest of the way. like you said, they have to stay focused. this nice little run they’ve put together ain’t gonna mean anything if they ain’t firing on all cylinders going into the tournament. now if they are, everybody else better look out.

    here’s a bold prediction…if they finish up well enough to earn a #1 seed in the tournament, we’re gonna see banner #6 this year. guess it ain’t all that bold to predict a #1 wins it all. maybe i should just call it a prediction. ;)

  • shknqk

    Alex or anyone,

    I have had a few discussions comparing our steadiness of play and the quality of our losses as a way to distinguish ourselves from the top teams in the country.

    The Hoosiers have lost 3 games by a total of 9 points. Two losses on last second shots. All programs top 20 at least.

    On the other hand, I think 8 or 9 of the top 10 teams have had a double digit loss. Many have been blow outs (Duke, Michigan, etc) or losses to horrible programs (Kansas v TCU for example), or folds to a great team that was down a leader (Gonzaga loss to Butler with Rotnei).

    I don’t know what our biggest deficit is or the amount of time we’ve been down 10+ points, or even down at all, but it has to be relatively low and compare favorably with other Top Teams. Also, 5 of the Preseason Top 10 are no longer Top 10, pUKe and NC State out of Top 25.

    In my opinion, its why I think I have had a much better time absorbing our losses to date, because I look at the other programs and think, “Damn… sucks to be you!” We have been in every game to the last second. We have not folded to a sorry team.

    We may have humble pie served to us yet, but we certainly should be extraordinarily happy with the way this team has played, even under our own adversity.

    A moment of thanksgiving…

  • Robert Weber

    I’m truly worried about Sparty. Granted, the Wolverines played terribly last night, but State looked almost unstoppable. We win there, we got it in the bag… he says ever so hesitantly.

  • MillaRed

    Hey ITH peeps, help out our boy Jordy………………

    http://www.seniorclassaward.com/vote/DI_mens_basketball_2012-13/

  • MillaRed

    Hey ITH peeps, help out our boy Jordy………………

    http://www.seniorclassaward.com/vote/DI_mens_basketball_2012-13/

  • David Dingley

    The toughest challenge remaining certainly appears to be in East Lansing. However as we’ve learned this past week, you just really never know. I’m pretty sure Sparty will lose at least one of the 2 at UM or OSU, and maybe both. I wouldn’t count on any others so if we lose there, must win out to be sure of a tie, or win all but one while MSU loses 2. Win next Tuesday and we are firmly in control, but not the final word either way. Winning out with this schedule will be harder than winning 6 in a row in the big dance, no question.

  • WatchingYogi_atYogis

    A couple of things that strike me-

    We are 6-3 against RPI top 50 teams. So Illinois falls into that category? Kind of surprising.

    After the Louisville skid, I find it hard to believe that someone outside of the B1G will land the coveted Midwest number one seed. That makes the conference championships all the more important this year. I thought Michigan was our prime competition for the best overall resume coming out of the B1G. And I didn’t expect the results of the game last night, that was in East Lansing where MSU was favored, to have much of an effect on that. But after the 23 point win, I found myself looking at MSU’s resume a lot deeper. They have four losses, but none scar their resume too deeply. They lost the first game of the year to UCONN that looks like a tournament team and lost at Miami (no shame in that), at Minnesota, and at Indiana (no shame again). They now own quality wins over Kansas, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Illinois (I guess they are top 50), Minnesota and Michigan. Bottom line, they are starting to look pretty good, both in how they are playing and in resume. Add a win over Indiana to that resume and I start getting a bit nervous. I suddenly have little faith that anybody outside of Michigan or Ohio State poses a serious threat to beat them. And I would not be surprised in the least to see them steal one of those road games.

    The way I see it, if we lose at Michigan State, we will either need help (both OSU and Michigan holding serve at home and beating the Spartans) or need to help ourselves by winning out (including at Minnesota, home against OSU and at Michigan), to get a share of the regular season. I think beating Michigan State on the road is our only legitimate chance of winning the conference outright. If we do end up sharing it with MSU, I have to think that the conference tournament will determine who gets that number one seed in the Midwest. Next Tuesday is starting to look like a very tough and very pivotal game. I’m pretty sure its okay for fans to look ahead.

  • Earl Scheib

    The three losses by a total of 9 points speaks volumes. That’s what so frustrating. We could have won those three EASILY. Gave Illinois game away. Butler we were up 5 in OT. And we stunk up the floor vs Wisconsin. A few different plays / calls there and we’d be undefeated. But again, none of this matters – we have to win the Big 10 and get the #1 seed. The team is getting better and better – they have the toughness now. And the maturation of Vic is nothing less than startling. It makes everyone play at a top level. What a great team. We absolutely need to hang banner #6. Go Hoosiers!

  • Hoosier89

    Just scanned the box scores of our three losses, and I believe the only time the Hoosiers have been down by double digits this year is against Wisconsin, 51-41. I could be wrong though.

  • HoosierGrad07

    Our biggest deficit was to Wisconsin by 11 in the 2nd half of that awful game. But we were able to cut that lead to 1 in the final minutes before eventually falling. So yeah, we definitely haven’t suffered any big losses.

    I was thinking about this the other day actually. We’ve spent basically the entire season leading or being behind by 3 or less points. It’ll be pretty remarkable if we can still say that after the next 5 or so games but it’s certainly possible.

  • HoosierGrad07

    Very true but one thing I know for sure. Michigan St cannot play better than they did last night. Even Izzo said he thought it was the teams’ best performance in the last 3 seasons and I agree.

    I don’t expect their crowd to be as good next Tuesday, MSU doesn’t tend to produce great crowds every game at the level IU does. IU will be in the game till the end.

  • Scoot

    Cincinnati fan here – 35 miles to Dayton, 90 to Rupp. Sweet

  • Eastwood88_2

    Losing at MSU is not the end of the world and should be expected. Can’t get blown out though. MSU is at OSU and at UM. Will they lose those games? Not if they played like they did last night. 14-4 should earn a split of the bigten

  • Kenneth234

    Personally, I expect the crowd to be just as fired up next Tuesday. However, the big difference is that we are not Michigan, and Michigan has significant limitations. Mainly their inability to defend effectively against a team that has a well balanced arsenal inside, outside and off the bounce. Secondly, Michigan has little ability to defend inside and are not particularly balanced offensively to rebound the basketball. They also depend too much in having Burke use pick actions to get himself and his team involved offensively.

    The problems that we present to Michigan State is that we are faster at every position, and have more players who can stretch their defense and attack their seems, drawing help and creating more open looks for shooters and cutters. Not too mention, outside of Nix, we can match them in size and we are a veteran squad who shouldn’t rattle under a ruckus crowd.

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