March Watch: IU strengthens hold on No. 1 in Midwest

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Only 24 days remain until Selection Sunday and Indiana continues to strengthen its position from a seed perspective for this year’s tournament. The Hoosiers can clinch the outright Big Ten regular season championship with three more conference wins, which could lock up the top spot in the Midwest regional that will be played at Lucas Oil Stadium. As we wind down the regular season schedule, it’s time for another edition of March Watch, a look at where Indiana stands in terms of the NCAA Tournament.

Overview

The Hoosiers had two wins since our last update that really didn’t do much to bolster their overall profile in Nebraska and Purdue. But Tuesday night’s win at Michigan State was one of the most impressive in college basketball this season and solidified the Hoosiers on the top of the heap on ESPN.com bracketologist Joe Lunardi’s s-curve ($).

Nitty Gritty Profile

· Record: 24-3 (12-2 Big Ten)
· RPI: 7
· SOS: 25
· Home Record: 16-1
· Away Record: 6-1
· Neutral Court Record: 2-1
· vs. RPI Top 50: 7-3
· vs. RPI Top 51-100: 2-0

Indiana’s RPI rose four spots since our last update and its strength of schedule figure dropped just one spot.

Bracket Projections

· ESPN Bracketology (Joe Lunardi): 1 seed (Midwest) vs. Norfolk State/Southern U in Dayton
· CBS Sports (Jerry Palm): 1 seed (Midwest) vs. Robert Morris/Charleston Southern in Dayton
· Sports Illustrated (Andy Glockner): 1 seed (Midwest) vs. Robert Morris in Dayton

For the first time in March Watch, all three of the brackets we track have the Hoosiers on the top line in the coveted Midwest regional at Lucas Oil Stadium. Michigan, a team that occupied that spot previously in several updates, has fallen to a No. 2 in most projections and Michigan State, which had a chance to make a play at the Midwest No. 1, took a step back in that quest with the loss to Indiana. While the Hoosiers still have plenty of work to do to lock up the right to play through Indianapolis, an outright Big Ten regular season championship would go a long way in accomplishing that goal. The Bracket Matrix, which aggregates nearly every bracket projection available, has the Hoosiers as the overall No. 1 seed and Crashing the Dance, which uses brackets from the past to predict what the selection committee will do, has IU as the second 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

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=13754840 Steve Bishop

    Creampuff Non-Conference hurting just a touch here. (That overall #2 on the Crashing the Dance S-curve). My concerns are that if IU slips between now and selection Sunday that that would somehow be the ammunition not to give them the #1 in the midwest. I think it’s all crap anyway the way the SOS averages out based upon that. Everyone plays creampuffs and just because ours were a little more soft it somehow balances against the very impressive wins? Blah!

  • GrahamFor3

    How could Crashing the Dance have Duke above IU as the first No. 1 seed? Is the RPI factored in that heavily?

  • Ole Man

    It’s Duke love and no other reason.

  • Ole Man

    It’s Duke love and no other reason.

  • iudawg

    Bought tickets for the Midwest Regionals (round of 16 and 8) in Indy. Really hope the Hoosiers are there. Ticketmaster still had some left as of yesterday.

  • iubrian

    “Cream-puff Non-Conference hurting just a touch here.” Are you freaking kidding me? IU just had the highest ranked road victory it’s ever had, and if it takes care of business, is the outright champion of the toughest conference, and without question the number 1 overall seed. Not to mention, IU is playing it’s best basketball of the season – if you’re worried about IU slipping up now, isn’t it more likely that IU would have “slipped up” earlier in the season, AND arguably as likely to slip up going forward, so instead of being number 1, with 3 losses and in control of our own destiny, we could potentially have 4 or more losses, in need of teams ahead of us to slip, and having no margin of error. Oh, but our SOS would be a couple of spots, AT BEST, higher. Face palm.

  • Ball and Cheney

    Where would the number 1 seed in the midwest play in the second and third rounds? Do they not come up with that until selection sunday either?

  • Koerber

    Duke isn’t even at the top of their own conference…

  • http://twitter.com/IUinNap Caleb Moore

    Duke has the #1 SOS in the country based on their early non-con sked. Believe they played and beat UK, OSU, UL in the non-con. Plus throw in they beat Minny and VCU as well. That’s a hell of a non-con sked.

  • copernicus462

    Just for the sake of debate (and excitement for IU basketball), if the Hoosiers do not get the overall #1 (I know, boo hiss on me), is there still a chance we get the Midwest Regional? This would be largely based on which teams were the other #1 seeds. So, who would they be?

    I just can’t see any other team other than Gonzaga getting the West, as they have a legitimate chance of winning out.

    So it comes down to the South and East in my opinion. I think if we are not the overall #1, we could still play in Indy if a combination of Miami, Duke, Syracuse, and Florida were the other #1’s.

    If a B1G team were ranked better, then you would have to believe they would get the Indy Regional. Also, it sucks for us that of the top 10 teams (AP and Coaches Poll), 5 of those, including IU, could be considered Midwest teams (geographically speaking).

    Before all the Debbie Downers start commenting about how there’s still a lot more basketball to be played an anything can happen, let me just say that this is strictly hypothetical and is just meant to be a conversation piece. Obviously I want the HOOSIERS to earn the Midwest Regional by being the best team in the country and make this debate a moot point.

  • CreamandCrimson

    I think winning the Big Ten title gives us a #1 seed (no matter what we do in the Big Ten Tournament). If we have a #1 seed, the general consensus is that we will be placed in the Midwest. Michigan State was our biggest contender for the #1 seed in the Midwest and winning the season series with them gives us a huge advantage.

    The #1 seed is a reward and if Duke or Miami gets a #1, putting them in the Midwest isn’t a reward for them. They’ll be sent to the South or the East. If we can win 3 of our last 4, I don’t see any conceivable way we aren’t the #1 in the Midwest.

  • http://twitter.com/IUinNap Caleb Moore

    Dayton I believe.

  • http://twitter.com/IUinNap Caleb Moore

    East goes through Lexington

  • http://twitter.com/IUinNap Caleb Moore

    Here’s a good breakdown on sites:

    http://www.cbssports.com/collegebasketball/bracketology

  • hardcore_hoosier

    Having the #1 overall seed would be significant. Two games in Dayton, then onto Indy. This is as close to home as you can ask for and is a golden opportunity to make the final 4. Glad to have my tickets to the Indy regional and the final 4 in hand!

    At this point, if they can get through the remaining regular season schedule with no more than one loss and then get to the Big Ten championship game the top seed is theirs. Just need to continue playing at the level they have in the past few weeks and there is no one in the country that can beat them. Such an exciting time to be a Hoosier!

  • hardcore_hoosier

    Having the #1 overall seed would be significant. Two games in Dayton, then onto Indy. This is as close to home as you can ask for and is a golden opportunity to make the final 4. Glad to have my tickets to the Indy regional and the final 4 in hand!

    At this point, if they can get through the remaining regular season schedule with no more than one loss and then get to the Big Ten championship game the top seed is theirs. Just need to continue playing at the level they have in the past few weeks and there is no one in the country that can beat them. Such an exciting time to be a Hoosier!

  • marcusgresham

    I know they don’t have the conference schedule that other teams do, but anyone who hasn’t seen Gonzaga play really needs to because that’s a hell of a team.

  • marcusgresham

    Both answers are correct to some extent–Dayton and Lexington are the closest two sites to IU (with Auburn Hills a bit farther,) but with the pod system you could theoretically be placed anywhere for your first weekend. Generally the highest seeded teams get preferential placement, though, so I feel pretty solid that it’s going to be Lexington with Dayton as the other possibility (Lexington is a few miles closer and several seats larger.)

  • http://twitter.com/RWNemanich Robert Nemanich

    Three weeks ahead yourselves, it matters little where they are now, play one game at a time and prepare for two…

  • Benhyoung14

    I don’t really see anybody jumping us except maybe Duke if they win out the rest of the year, and win the tournament. We still have games against Ohio St and UM. We should at worst split one of those. Minnesota hasn’t been playing good for a while, so I say we win that one. Then we have the B1G Tourney. Last year UK lost theirs and still got the #1 seed.

  • CreamandCrimson

    They are very, very good. Olynyk is a really good big man (he isn’t as quick as Cody but he is very mobile and skilled). Elias Harris is a real bruiser. Very good offensive power forward who can score in a variety of ways. Gary Bell is a streaky shooter who was totally invisible against Butler but has been solid otherwise. Kevin Pangos can really play. They have a fairly deep bench. I think the biggest concern for them would be their history of struggles in the tournament but this certainly appears to be the best squad Mark Few has had in Spokane.

  • HoosierGrad07

    yeah UK sucks, OSU was at home (and they are 5th best team in Big 10), UL didn’t have Dieng (sp?), VCU is good but has like 2 top 50 wins all season, and Minny isn’t very good (7th best Big 10 team).

    There’s a lot of well known names on that list but the substance just isn’t really there.

  • Medina_Sod

    I think it will be Dayton. The difference in miles is negligible between Dayton and Lexington, but also, Lexington is going to be the closest second and third round location to any school from the southeast part of the US (Duke, Miami, Florida).

  • jwcasey

    Agreed. Also, Duke hasn’t beaten a ranked opponent since November 28 and doesn’t have one single quality “true road” victory.

  • jwcasey

    and Miami isn’t even the best team in their own state

  • jack_j100

    Would love for it to work out as predicted. Welcome a shot at Duke or a rematch with Butler. Of course, not overlooking the challenges to get there, just saying….

  • jack_j100

    I’m sorry but I can’t just hate Duke. Not after 1992; I’ll always be indebted to them.

  • b_side

    I debated the merits of our front court vs. Zags with Grantland’s Mark Titus on Twitter the other day. He raves about them and truth be told, I’ve only seen Gonzaga once, their loss to Butler (minus Rotnei of course).

    Ultimately, the Zags do match up really well with us (Cody/Wat vs. Olynyk/Harris). The difference of course is OladiPOY. No one, save for maybe KU’s Ben McLemore, can stay in front him.

    Think Pangos would get locked down by Yogi, but more importantly would have a very tough time keeping up with Yogi’s speed. Zags have depth up front, no doubt, but I’ll take quality over quantity. Wonder if their fan base would even travel in droves to ATL if they made a FF run.

  • marcusgresham

    Actually, Philadelphia would be closer to Miami/Florida/Duke than Dayton is.

  • marcusgresham

    Actually, Philadelphia would be closer to Miami/Florida/Duke than Dayton is.

  • jermhoosierfan

    Did you notice that Duke would be an at-large in the Crashing the Dance with Miami being the ACC champion at 6? That is pretty crazy if you ask me.

  • Medina_Sod

    Not entirely true. I was surprised to see that Duke is closer to Philly than either Lexington or Dayton, but Miami and Florida are both closer to Lexington and Dayton than Philly. Crashing the Dance actually has a chart of all the distances: http://www.crashingthedance.com/distance.php

    I’m flying out to Vegas on Saturday morning, so I’m hoping for Dayton, which would mean we play Friday/Sunday and no chance for an early Saturday game I could miss. So I’m kind of invested in this, lol.

  • IURob1997

    I wish they would put the Hoosiers in Lexington just to show the hillbillies what they missed out on being too scared to let the Hoosiers come to town

  • Tom S

    I assume that’s because of the Kentucky loss? It is fun to hear them moan every time that shot is replayed.

    But…..

    If Kentucky wins that game, it’s almost certain that Indiana picks up Banner #6.

  • WatchingYogi_atYogis

    The way I see it, if we win the B1G regular season championship outright, I’d argue that our performance in the conference tournament would become irrelevant to us getting the #1 seed in the Midwest. It’s still only one loss, no matter where we get ousted, and wouldn’t be the worst loss in all likelihood, unless it was the first game (second round). It’s pretty hard to imagine anybody having a better resume in the conference, even in that scenario where we falter sort of early in the conference tournament.
    Now, the #1 overall seed may demand a little more, but I kind of wonder there too. We win the B1G regular season outright and I think you can pencil us in for Dayton and Indianapolis.

  • WatchingYogi_atYogis

    Ditto above, didn’t see this before I chimed in. But I don’t think the number one overall seed has any real significance for us in terms of placement. The Michigan, Michigan State, Louisville’s of this world will not have a better resume than us if we win the B1G regular season outright, regardless of what else they do or what happens to us in the conference tournament.

  • WatchingYogi_atYogis

    Lexington might be closer, technically. But I have been under the impression based on looking at the expert bracketologists above that Dayton would be our likely destination as a feeder to Indy in the Midwest. Of course, I have no idea how they’ve come to that uniform conclusion.

  • EweGenieTerror

    Definitely agree. As long as they win the regular season outright, shitting the bed in Chicago won’t make any difference. In fact it may be preferable that way in order to gain some valuable R&R before the trip to Dayton.

  • Mike Dedek

    Me and my uncle and my two sons have tickets to the sunday round of 32 in dayton – and we are keeping our fingers crossed that indiana gets that overall #1 seed!

  • Mike Dedek

    Me and my uncle and my two sons have tickets to the sunday round of 32 in dayton – and we are keeping our fingers crossed that indiana gets that overall #1 seed!

  • jack_j100

    Another banner or a dagger thought the heart of the Kentucky nation? Tough decision… I’ll have to think about that.

  • marcusgresham

    Either way it’s going to sicken the UK fans. Either IU or Duke is going to be playing in their home stadium, and if so that may actually force the Cayuts to play a road game in the NIT.

  • SCHoosier

    Last week somebody published the RPI’s of the four projected top seeds. IU’s was the highest at 11..the other 3 were low single digit.

  • SCHoosier

    Last week somebody published the RPI’s of the four projected top seeds. IU’s was the highest at 11..the other 3 were low single digit.

  • http://twitter.com/erikholm Erik Holm

    Don’t worry, our SOS will improve. Our last 4 scheduled games are against all quality (at least bubble) teams. I think I heard on the MSU telecast that IU has the hardest remaining schedule in the country. It may not look *that* hard.. but it is because we are that good.

  • http://twitter.com/erikholm Erik Holm

    IU doesn’t necessarily need the overall #1 seed to get to play in Indy. They just need a #1 seed without UM, MSU sneaking in and becoming a higher #1 seed so IU would get kick to another region. I really hope you get to see the Hoosiers in Indy AND Atlanta!

  • http://twitter.com/erikholm Erik Holm

    IU doesn’t necessarily need the overall #1 seed to get to play in Indy. They just need a #1 seed without UM, MSU sneaking in and becoming a higher #1 seed so IU would get kick to another region. I really hope you get to see the Hoosiers in Indy AND Atlanta!

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