OMAHA, Neb. — A bit less than two years ago, Yogi Ferrell played in his first NCAA tournament game. He was a freshman at the time, one of Indiana’s least-experienced players on a No. 1 seed squad.
Yet he was a starter on that 2012-2013 Hoosiers team, playing against No. 16 seed James Madison.
On Friday afternoon, Ferrell will make his return to the “Big Dance” when the No. 10 seed Hoosiers play No. 7 seed Wichita State. He is one of just two remaining Indiana players from that eventual Sweet Sixteen team.
Now he is one of the current Hoosiers’ leaders, and Ferrell on Thursday reminisced about his first NCAA tournament game. He said there is plenty he can take from that experience as they prepare for the Shockers.
“I remember the first game we played, JMU, I was going out there and playing for my teammates, really,” he said. “I feel like if we can do that, play for each other, play desperate, play like we don’t want to go home, we can win.”
From the time the Hoosiers’ name was announced on Sunday evening during the NCAA tournament selection show, both Ferrell and Hanner Mosquera-Perea knew they could help their teammates prepare for the Shockers.
OMAHA, Neb. – Tom Crean, Yogi Ferrell, Nick Zeisloft, James Blackmon Jr. and Troy Williams addressed the media earlier today at the CenturyLink Center in advance of Indiana’s game tomorrow
THE MODERATOR: Nick Zeisloft, James Blackmon, Jr., Troy Williams and Yogi Ferrell represent the student body of the Indiana Hoosiers. They’re the No. 10 seed in the Midwest region; they’re out of the Big 10 conference, they will play No. 7 Wichita State in Friday’s second game.
Q. Yogi, as you look at Wichita State, what are some of the things that they present that make them a difficult match for you guys? What makes them good?
YOGI FERRELL: One thing about their team is they’re a very solid team. They’ve got basically five solid positions, and that’s what makes them such a great team. They start junior and seniors, so they’re obviously a lot more experienced than we are. They’ve got great 3-point shooters; they’ve got great post presence. Like I said before, just a great experienced team.
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: