Is Indiana a preseason top 15 team? Experts say yes

  • 04/27/2015 3:58 pm in

The early entry deadline for the 2015 NBA draft has passed and Indiana appears to be one of the nation’s biggest winners as all three Hoosiers who were considering leaving early returned to school.

Along with Maryland and Michigan State, Indiana looks like, at least on paper, a viable contender in the Big Ten next season with its top eight scorers returning and the addition of McDonald’s All-American Thomas Bryant.

As a whole, the Big Ten is shaping up to be very deep as Michigan should return to the top 25 with a healthy Caris LeVert, Iowa and Purdue both return four of five starters, Wisconsin brings back Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig and Illinois and Ohio State both add talented recruiting classes.

On Monday, Inside the Hall reached out to three of the most well-respected national college basketball writers in the country for their thoughts on where IU could stack up not only in the Big Ten next season, but also nationally.

Pat Forde, Yahoo! Sports

“The wise decisions of several players to return, coupled with the addition of Thomas Bryant, should make Indiana a contender for the Big Ten title and a top 15 team nationally.

“There are some areas in need of serious improvement — especially defensively — but more experienced (and bigger) players should be able to make some strides in those areas. The Hoosiers should be significantly better than the past couple of seasons.”

Dana O’Neil, ESPN.com

“If Indiana isn’t at the top of the Big Ten hierarchy next season, the Hoosiers ought to be very close. The league itself looks to be in great shape, with players returning to multiple teams, but while fans may not want to hear it, Indiana frankly overachieved last season.

“The Hoosiers were relatively young and inexperienced and the early drama didn’t help settle things, either. Now they will be the opposite – old and experienced and having come out on the other side of the adversity. As for the national pecking order, I can’t imagine the Hoosiers starting outside of the top 15 in the nation.”

Eamonn Brennan, ESPN.com

“Just after the national title game, the Way Too Early Top 25 slotted Indiana into a top-20 spot, and the only reason we didn’t have them higher was because of the somewhat bizarre uncertainty surrounding Yogi’s decision. (I found it hard to believe he’d want to leave, given how disinterested the NBA was; Europe isn’t going anywhere. But like you guys at ITH, a lot of folks who track the program closely insisted he was truly on the fence, and given how long the decision took, they appear to have been correct.)

“Nevermind all that. Getting back Ferrell — who will, barring injury, leave Indiana as one of the most productive players in program history — elevates IU from an interesting collection of pieces to a borderline top-10 team to start the 2015-16 season. There will be one Big Ten group with more sheer talent (Maryland) and even that is arguable, given IU’s overall depth and stylistic cohesion.

“Will they get to the line every now and then? Will they guard anyone, ever? October is a long way off. But for a program whose athletic director had to openly give its coach a vote of confidence as recently as March, the 2015-16 season is shaping up quite nicely, isn’t it?”

Evan Daniels, Scout.com

“I think adding an energy guy like Thomas Bryant and with the return of Yogi Ferrell, it changes the outlook of their season. Bryant is an immediate contributor and will instantly compete with the best post players in the Big Ten. He’s a terrific rebounder and shot contester and always plays hard. IU fans know how important Ferrell is to their team and their success. These were big decisions for Tom Crean and ones that will help in the win category this year. “

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  • Ole Man

    You have no reason to be talking to me. I am more grounded in reality than those posting hype based upon the signing of one recruit and the return of 3 players.
    I too expect the best from everyone in most situations.
    I’m not the one, as you and Tom are doing, personalizing basketball opinions. What does that say?

  • TomJameson

    Little ole man, keep it to yourself and don’t bother me anymore. Just ignore my posts and I’ll do the same for yours. You are such a hypocrite; you say and act exactly the way you chide others for saying and acting. 2 simple words. The second word is … you.

  • TomJameson

    A little over-achieved, not a lot (IMO). And that “informed” initial assessment … I call that guesswork. lol

    In this case your guess is as good as mine.

  • IUMIKE1

    Plus another thing that some forget is that this young man is just that, a really young man, in terms of playing elite Div 1 bball. As good as he looks, and he does look good, and we’re pretty safe in saying that he is going to help in more ways than one, we can’t be sure to what extent he is going to be able to help us, especially right off the bat. He is still an unproven until he takes the court and matches up along side some of the conference’s premier players and maybe not so premier players, but players that are time tested veterans, that have been playing at that level for more than a season or two.

  • Not sure how anyone can make the case that this year’s team over achieved. Has to be a make a break year for Crean. Win us something, a B10 tourney win, a final four appearance, heck sweep Purdue, anything will do. Based on performance to date we’ll come out strong, come in second or third in the B10, win 1 game in the B10 tourney, then maybe scratch out a win or two and make it to the Sweet 16.

  • IUMIKE1

    I see nothing to disagree with in your reply and with the number of players that can contribute at the 3 and 4 spot is there really any justification for not going to a 2 true guard lineup next season ? I can’t see one. I have also worried somewhat about how RJ would take it if he has to come off the bench next season after being a starter his whole high school career and starting every game last year. That is one reason that I said that I would insert him for JBJ in the wink of an eye, or maybe better put, the first deja vu shiver I got of last year’s defense by him. I’ve also thought that Crean might do himself a favor next year if he experimented with playing RJ extended minutes along side of just YF and then compare the pluses and minuses of the whole thing. If Crean did that though JBJ would probably not be happy in the least bit either and that could lead to some problems. I guess having to choose between starting JBJ or RJ is a good problem to have if you’re going to have one. lol

  • John D Murphy

    MSU gets two highly recruited big men to add to an experienced tough front line compared to our one. This will be the best MSU team since they won the championship.

  • Jrod

    Like I said lets see what happens next year if they can put all the pieces together. I will like to see the defense improvement before I jump on the I love CTC band wagon. I like the coach and what he done with the program really brought us out of a hole. Hopefully CTC proves me wrong and makes a deep run I would love to eat my words.

  • mark

    I agree, just based on the talent level. Everybody seems conservative in their estimations and that may be reasonable, due more to coaching than anything else. Unfortunately, CTC’s teams have generally underachieved a little, at least in the post-season.

  • mark

    hard to imagine we’re not higher than 3rd or 4th. It looks likely IU will have 4 All-Big 10 players in Ferrell, Williams, Blackmon and Bryant. All 4 have legitimate NBA aspirations (though I though JBJ’s decision to hold a presser was laughable given his poorr play against high-level competition all year long). Johnson had a solid frosh season and should be improved next year. Then there’s experienced guys who’ve already proven to be solid role players, like NZ, CH and HMP (yes, I think he should be be solid in a more limited role and after another summer of practice), plus Holt who showed clear promise. There’s athleticism, experience, shooting, ballhandling, inside play. So we just need to see what CTC can do in terms of coaching …. personally I will be disappointed if this team finishes outside the top 2 in B10 play and outside the top 10 nationally.

  • dwdkc

    Disagree on #1 talent. We don’t have the proven bigs to rate that, just one freshman and a slow developing senior. No comparison to the top 3-4 from this past year (Ky, Wisconsin, Duke, Arizona).

  • dwdkc

    I haven’t seen this explanation for poor defense and I think that fatigue shouldn’t have been such a factor with all the subbing, but JBJ and RJ were freshmen and Collin was fighting injuries too. But I really hope you are right. With our depth that will not happen this year. In fact everyone better be going all out all the time or find some bench.

  • TomJameson

    I’ll go with that. I feel sure there’ll be a defensive improvement, it’s the degree of improvement that I believe is debatable. I’m not on the bandwagon, but I’m pacing it ready to jump on. LOL

  • dwdkc

    Yes–this. Let’s see Crean channel his inner Bobby Knight. Bust your a** on D or sit. There are too many good players already sitting to put up with this. This is why we have depth and competition for minutes. Go all out, take a blow while someone else good goes in and gives IU some good minutes. Win.

  • dwdkc

    Guys have to realize the team is trying to win big. If the bigger stars at Kentucky can do it, RJ can do it. He will get plenty of minutes, and runs the team while Yogi sits for 8 or 10 minutes/game instead of 2 so Yogi is fresh all season long. Since James is not likely to become a great defender, I can see RJ not starting and still logging 20 minutes/game. In fact I think Nick will be taking the big hit on minutes with the 2 guard setup. Then this is RJ’s team for junior and senior years. I don’t expect a problem with any of these guys.

  • Ole Man

    Look in the mirror, Tom. You started this silly game. You want to chide people and call them names and insinuate about their character. If they disagree or defend themselves, you want to take your ball and go home. Seems like I pegged you exactly right in naming you a loser.

  • Ole Man

    I’ve been saying this for months. RJ is going to walk if JBJ keeps getting his preferential treatment.

  • HoosierFan76

    No need to go there. No problem with disagreeing, just don’t make it personal.

  • HoosierFan76

    Same thing as I said before – doesn’t matter who started it, no need to get personal.

    This is the internet and a discussion thread in an article about how many “experts” (define that how you will) have IU pegged as a top 15 team for next season. Whether you think that’s accurate or not, IU should still be a very good team.

    We don’t all have to agree with each other about everything (life would be boring if we did), but sometimes there are points to be made on either side of a discussion and if no consensus can be reached it’s best to move along.

  • Ole Man

    Don’t have a problem with disagreeing. Have a problem with Lameson getting personal.

  • PBzeer

    Not sure who you think would have been playing in place of our two freshman if we’d had a “true center”. Nor why you say we “had” to play the horrid defensive schemes we did (helter skelter). Our D started out bad, long before “fatigue” could become a plausible excuse.

  • TomJameson

    HF76, I do agree that I got a bit heated, but that was a two sided exchange. When one side is chastised and the other is not then what the heck? I feel provoked sometimes by how some are allowed to call others names (what’s worse than being called a UK fan? lol) and they get away with it.

    I don’t know man, I just see a little leaning in the judgment department.

  • TomJameson

    I will apologize for my outburst to you and to the rest of this forum. But I did not start this exchange, you did.

    My advice for you to ignore my posts is still good, as I’m doing the same for you. As a matter of fact this will be the last response you get from me.

  • ForeverIU

    I agree that a bigger inside presence will help our D. I know it’s not a simple formula, but for us to be a top 10 team then our AdjO and AdjD more or less have to average to top 10, no? So if our AdjO is at #15, then AdjD has to be in the top 5. This is all theoretical of course, because in the end it depends on our win/loss record more than anything.

    What would be a “respectable level” for AdjD in your opinion, if we are top 10 in AjdO?

  • calbert40

    Well, Wisky was the national runner-up, and they were #1 in AdjO, but #54 in AdjD. Notre Dame very nearly beat UK in the Elite Eight, and they were #2 in AdjO, but just #102 in AdjD.

    To answer the question, if we are top 10 in AdjO, I think we just need to be in the 50-100 range (the closer to 50 the better) in AdjD to be a top 10 team next year.

  • Rie

    It might be just one factor, but it is absolutely the biggest one. The defensive was not just bad, it was historically bad. The excuses you put forth are ultimately facets of coaching, and youth does not change any of this.

  • Rie

    Welcome to the club; its membership is very large, although I do find myself agreeing with his sentiment more often than not. I think you will enjoy the site more if you keep to this policy.

  • Rie

    “Way to go Tom Crean, pre-preseason rankings have invalidated the repeated issues we have seen with your squads over the years at Indiana!”

    Did I get that right?

  • PBzeer

    It bears repeating that until they show an improvement in defense, they’re still suspect. Nor is there any guarantee that the talent will be utilized to it’s best effect.

  • Darren Morgan

    I guess you forgot about Juwan and O.G

  • Darren Morgan

    Right let’s not for get about them both of these young men can really be a big part of putting IU back on top. Let’s not forget that

  • Darren Morgan

    And I bet you are wrong I don’t think Coach Crean went after them to sit on the bench. Try reading about these kids especially JM

  • Hoosier Hall

    No, I didn’t. As I stated above, the only new recruit I believe will play significant minutes is TB.

  • Darren Morgan

    Well I think your wrong because you have to look at from having a BB IQ so there is no way you would have made that statement if you had one. Have you looked at what they also bring to the Hoosiers?

  • Hoosier Hall

    You’re entitled to your opinion but for you to speculate on my BB IQ… You don’t even know me bro. Juwan and OG are great additions and I’m thrilled we got them but I just don’t think either of them will play more than a few minutes per game. I think anything over 10 minutes per game is considered significant.

  • that’s worrisome

  • IUBizmark

    Update: KU landed Diallo. We’re going to have our hands full with them in Maui next year. Looking forward to seeing Bryant play with a chip on his shoulder in that matchup.

  • Darren Morgan

    Well I’m so glad your not the Coach based on your comments I can speculate on your BB IQ Sir. If you don’t mind me asking what is your background in sports related issues.

  • HoosierFan76

    Guess you didn’t scroll down and read the other post I wrote, then…

  • Darren Morgan

    I can’t believe you just said I think I said before your BB IQ wasn’t really high. And your statement just prove it, you don’t recruit kids that won’t help the team or to just sit on the bench.

  • Hoosier Hall

    Dude seriously, give it a rest.

  • Jeremy

    Agreed but I do not see any team equal to the top 3-4 from the past year. Thankfully, those 3-4 teams are not the same next year.

  • Darren Morgan

    Take your own advice “Dude” talk about what you know