Indiana coach Tom Crean looked away from the TV and examined the scene inside the Hoosiers’ locker room.
Players were jumping up and down, yelling in celebration. His family and other coaches families embraced. Crean, himself, was in shock.
The Hoosiers, who were on the bubble according to many bracketologists, had been selected into the 2015 NCAA tournament. And not only were they in the field of 68, they were selected as a No. 10 seed, scheduled to play No. 7 seed Wichita State in Omaha on Friday at 2:45 p.m. ET.
“I was stunned,” Crean said. “I’d be lying to say I saw a 10 seed coming.”
Since their loss to Maryland in the Big Ten tournament on Friday, the Hoosiers have been on edge. After all, they had nothing else to occupy their time in the hours leading up to the NCAA tournament selection show on CBS.
With a 20-13 record, an RPI of 60 and a 5-9 record to close the season, the Hoosiers had plenty of reason to be nervous. ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi projected them as his last team out of the tournament. Several others predicted them participating in a play-in game in Dayton, Ohio.
In a surprise to many bracketologists, Indiana safely made the NCAA tournament field as the top No. 10 seed. The Hoosiers will travel to Omaha to play Wichita State in the Midwest Region on Friday afternoon on CBS.
Tom Crean, Yogi Ferrell, Nick Zeisloft, James Blackmon Jr. and Troy Williams met with the media on Sunday evening at Assembly Hall to discuss IU’s tournament selection and much more. Watch both press conferences below:
The Big Ten held its weekly coaches teleconference on Monday morning to review the final week of conference play and to look ahead to this week’s conference tournament in Chicago. Here are some notes and quotes from Tom Crean’s appearance:
On Yogi Ferrell’s play this season:
“Well I think he continues to get better and better. He’s his own worst critic at times and at the same time, he’s got an edge and a level of toughness that is outstanding. We need him to play with that. We need him to play with edge on defense as well as offense and be the stopper and be the team leader on the defensive end of the court that he is on the offensive end of the court because when we have that, we’re good. He does a lot of things. He improves all of the time. He improves every year and throughout the year and I wouldn’t trade him for anybody, he’s done a fantastic job.”
But all of that has remained out of the Hoosiers’ players focus. And as their sights are set on the Spartans, the Hoosiers aim for their 20th win of the season and their 10th conference win — in their third attempt to achieve that feat.
“I think our guys are fantastic,” Crean said. “I’m proud of these young men. They’ve done a fantastic job all year long and all week long. And I think they’re absolutely focused, as is their coach and their coaches and everybody else on what they need to do.”
The Hoosiers’ task of facing the Spartans has always been difficult — just two months ago Michigan State defeated Indiana by a 70-50 score in East Lansing and out-rebounded Indiana by a 50-28 margin, the Hoosiers’ worst offensive output this season. And heading into this afternoon’s game they have lost four of their past six games and seven of their past 11.