Not ending up in Indy could be a blessing in disguise for Hoosiers

IUB1G1ITH0019There was a great deal of speculation throughout the weeks and months leading up to Sunday that Indiana’s path to the Final Four would go through Indianapolis. The Hoosiers were ranked No. 1 for a good portion of the year, and they figured to be a safe bet for the Midwest region’s top seed.

But when the brackets were revealed Sunday evening, the Hoosiers were sent East. They won’t be playing in Lucas Oil Stadium this postseason.

Why? Well, most likely because of their loss to Wisconsin in Saturday’s Big Ten tournament semifinal in Chicago. The Hoosiers lost, and Louisville won the Big East tournament, giving them the top overall seed in the Big Dance.

“Probably,” guard Victor Oladipo said when asked if Saturday’s loss cost Indiana the Midwest region. “But I can’t go back and change time, I can’t go back and change the past. All I can do is look forward to the future.”

The Hoosiers’ path will first take them to Dayton and then to Washington D.C. if they advance to the second weekend.

“I expected our road to be kind of rough,” said senior forward Christian Watford. “That’s how it’s been since I’ve been here, so why would it change now?”

Ending up in the East could be a blessing in disguise for the Hoosiers. Most national analysts agree the Midwest region – which includes Louisville, Duke, Michigan State and St. Louis – is by far the toughest in the Tournament.

Plus, if the Hoosiers were in Indianapolis, they would be expected to win and advance to the Final Four. The pressure would be significant, and Indiana doesn’t always play well as a favorite.

“I feel like we play better on the road anyway, to be quite honest with you,” Watford said. “Our mentality is just a little different. We go in with our underdog mentality that we’ve had for so long.”

HD Video: Tom Crean on NCAA Tournament draw

Tom Crean met with the media on Sunday evening at Assembly Hall to discuss the Hoosiers’ selection as the No. 1 seed in the East region for the NCAA Tournament.

Watch and listen to his comments in the embedded media player below:

HD Video: IU players on NCAA Tournament draw

Christian Watford, Cody Zeller, Jordan Hulls and Victor Oladipo met with the media on Sunday evening at Assembly Hall to discuss the Hoosiers’ selection as the No. 1 seed in the East region for the NCAA Tournament.

Watch and listen to their comments in the embedded media players below:

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Indiana earns No. 1 seed in East Region, will play LIU Brooklyn or James Madison

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The brackets for the 2013 NCAA Tournament have been revealed.

Indiana earned a No. 1 seed in the East region (Washington D.C.) and will open the tournament against either LIU Brooklyn or James Madison on Friday, Mar. 22 in Dayton at the University of Dayton Arena.

The game will tip at approximately 4:10 p.m. ET on TBS with Jim Nantz, Clark Kellogg and Tracy Wolfson on the call.

We’ll have reaction from Tom Crean and a couple of IU players later this evening, but what do you think of the Hoosiers’ draw? Do you like IU’s path to the Sweet 16 and beyond? Or did the committee not do IU’s overall resume justice placing as the third No. 1 seed behind Louisville and Kansas?

Five takeaways from Indiana’s loss to Wisconsin

IUB1G1ITH0015CHICAGO — In front of a pro-Indiana crowd on Saturday afternoon at the United Center, the Hoosiers dropped a 12th straight decision to Wisconsin, falling 68-56 in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals.

Here’s a look at five takeaways from IU’s loss to the Badgers:

· Whether coincidence or a blueprint, Wisconsin has IU’s number: This was supposed to be the season that Indiana would finally solve the Wisconsin puzzle. But when the Hoosiers fell to Wisconsin 64-59 back in January, it appeared IU would be forced to wait another year to end the losing streak against Bo Ryan and the Badgers. Saturday’s game in the Big Ten Tournament offered the opportunity to avenge a loss for a second straight day. As Indiana mounted a 9-0 rally in the second half to draw the game even at 40, the Hoosiers had momentum and the crowd behind them. Wisconsin, however, never deviated from its plan to force Indiana into a halfcourt game and out-executed the Big Ten champs down the stretch. IU scored just seven points in the last 9:45 and was dealt its worst loss of the season. “We knew that we were capable of having success against this team if we stuck to our rules and played our style of basketball,” Jared Berggren said. “And we were able to do enough of that today to come up with a win.”

· Wisconsin didn’t let Indiana win with the 3-pointer: The strength of Indiana’s offense is its efficiency from the perimeter. The Hoosiers shot close to 42 percent in Big Ten games on threes, but in two losses to the Badgers, that figure dipped to 27.5 percent (8-of-29). Through the first 20 minutes, it appeared Indiana might be in line to break through from distance by hitting 4-of-8 attempts. The second half was a different story as IU went just 1-of-9 from behind the arc. The struggles were a combination of the Hoosiers missing some open looks and the Badgers shoring up many of the openings IU was able to exploit in the first half.

· Indiana didn’t defend well enough to win: It wasn’t Indiana’s worst defensive performance of the season, but there were plenty of lapses the Hoosiers will be reviewing before the NCAA Tournament tips off next week. Among them: Poor rotations on perimeter shooters, defensive rebounding and allowing Wisconsin to score 30 points in the paint. The Badgers shot 7-of-18 from behind the 3-point line and scored 18 second chance points. “The biggest story for us is we’ve been defending the 3 the last six, seven games at an incredibly high level and today we didn’t,” Tom Crean said. “And they got some kick-out threes and things of that nature, but we got away from what had been making us better. We started to over-help again and tried to cover for one another when there was no need to do it. Those are the things we just can’t do.”

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The Battle for Indianapolis: A look at Indiana and Louisville

031612jeUpdate (10:55 p.m.): Despite trailing by double figures in the second half, Louisville rallied to beat Syracuse and claim the Big East tournament championship. The Cardinals have now won 10 consecutive games.

Suddenly, Selection Sunday becomes very interesting for Indiana because, as mentioned below, Louisville could threaten the Hoosiers for the top seed in the Midwest region. Both teams’ resumes are updated below, and they are certainly very close.

Even with Louisville’s win, CBS bracketologist Jerry Palm still had Indiana has the top overall seed in the tournament, as did CBS’ Seth Davis. ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi moved Louisville to the top overall seed.

CHICAGO — Indiana isn’t on the bubble. That’s the good news for Hoosier fans. But Indiana’s 68-56 loss to Wisconsin in Saturday’s Big Ten Tournament semifinal might impact what region the Hoosiers end up in when the bracket is revealed Sunday night at 6 p.m. on CBS.

Had the Hoosiers beaten the Badgers, they likely would have locked up the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, and more importantly, the coveted Indianapolis Midwest regional. But after losing a 12th straight game to Bo Ryan and the Badgers, the Hoosiers could get shipped elsewhere.

While Indiana (27-6) will still end up with a No. 1 seed, the Hoosiers could be placed in the East region (Washington D.C.) or South region (Dallas), depending on what happens in other games around the country.

ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi still had Indiana in the Midwest region as of Saturday afternoon, but he has Gonzaga as the top overall seed and Louisville as the second 1-seed. If Louisville beats Syracuse in tonight’s Big East championship game, Lunardi will give the Cardinals the top overall seed.

At this point, Louisville is the only team that could knock Indiana out of the Midwest, so let’s compare the two teams’ resumes.

Indiana

· Record: 27-6 (14-4 Big Ten)
· RPI: 5
· SOS: 11
· Home Record: 17-2
· Away Record: 7-2
· Neutral Court Record: 3-2
· vs. RPI Top 1-25: 7-2
· vs. RPI Top 26-50: 2-4
· vs. RPI Top 51-100: 3-0

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The Minute After: Wisconsin

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Photo via Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Thoughts on a 68-56 loss to the Badgers:

CHICAGO — Another shot at the Badgers for Tom Crean’s Hoosiers, and a frustratingly familiar result. Indiana had its chances to finally put together the Wisconsin puzzle, but it still remains unsolved with Indiana left picking up the pieces.

Jared Berggren worked hard and denied Cody Zeller post touches. Against the Illini, Zeller dominated a weak frontline. But he had to work and work and work this afternoon and found but a few decent looks all game. Mike Bruesewitz said after that Berggren “set the tone early” by knocking entry passes away and made “life miserable for (Zeller).” The numbers back such a statement. Zeller didn’t score his first bucket until the 3:49 mark of the first half — against a less-skilled post defender in Frank Kaminsky. He finished the game just 4-of-10, though a 5-of-7 performance from the line allowed him to sneak into double-digits (13 points).

“They do a nice job inside of not fouling, clogging the lane a lot,” Zeller said of Wisconsin’s defense.

But it was more than just the job the Badgers did on Zeller. Wisconsin’s defense suffocated Indiana’s offense over the final 9:45 of the game. After pulling to within one at 50-49, Indiana would score just seven points the rest of the way. The Hoosiers sat at 49 until a Christian Watford score at 5:13 gave them 51. Another score from Watford at the 3:42 mark and a late 3-pointer from Jordan Hulls (:34) would be the only points the Hoosiers mustered. They tried freeing Hulls. They tried Victor Oladipo going around ball screens. They tried going inside to Zeller. They tried converting on second-chance opportunities at the rim, only to miss. Wisconsin simply froze them in the halfcourt, took them out of what they tried to do.

“I think we played great defense,” Ryan Evans said.

They did. Wisconsin’s defensive efforts this afternoon resulted in Indiana’s lowest offensive output of the season (.89 points per possession). It was Indiana’s first double-dight loss of the season and the lowest final point total (56) of the season, too. The only other times Indiana has been held under 60 in 2012-13? Its previous loss to Wisconsin on Jan. 15 (59) and its loss to Ohio Sate on senior night (58).

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