Bubble Watch: IU out in latest projections

  • 02/04/2014 11:30 am in

The title “March Watch” has been jettisoned out in favor of “Bubble Watch” for now as Indiana is officially a bubble team in early February. At this point the past two seasons, the NCAA tournament discussion regarding the Hoosiers was about seeding and location.

The debut of Bubble Watch takes a look at IU’s current nitty gritty profile, some of the current competition for at-large spots and what the Hoosiers might need to do to reach the tournament for a third straight season.


It’s been a roller coaster season so far in Bloomington as Indiana has home wins over a pair of top 10 (at the time) teams in Michigan and Wisconsin, but also has a home loss to Northwestern and just two wins away from Assembly Hall. With nine conference games to go, including five on the road, there’s still plenty of time for Indiana to strengthen its resume.

Nitty Gritty Profile

· Record: 14-8 (4-5 Big Ten)
· RPI: 64
· SOS: 54
· Home Record: 12-2
· Away Record: 1-4
· Neutral Court Record: 1-2
· vs. RPI Top 50: 2-4
· vs. RPI Top 51-100: 3-3

Current Projections

· ESPN Bracketology (Joe Lunardi): Fourth team in “first four out”
· CBS Sports (Jerry Palm): Not among “first four out”
· Crashing the Dance: Fifth team out

Not surprisingly, none of the three projections we’re currently tracking have Indiana in the tournament, but the win over Michigan on Sunday put the Hoosiers back in the discussion.

Potentially working in Indiana’s favor is the number of RPI top 50 games remaining on its schedule compared to some of its primary bubble competition (this list of teams is using Lunardi’s latest bracket math):


Missouri, BYU and LSU all look vulnerable given the amount of top 50 games they have remaining and the strength of the SEC (7th in RPI) and the West Coast (9th in RPI). Specifically, LSU has both of its remaining top 50 games on the road (at Kentucky and at Florida) while Missouri has at Florida and Tennessee twice.

From this group, Baylor, Oregon, Indiana and Georgetown are probably the three teams with the most chances to impress the selection committee.

Of Indiana’s remaining RPI Top 50 games, three of them are on the road (Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan), so a win in any of those will hold tremendous value. With only four remaining home games, the Hoosiers need at least one road win to give themselves a chance a .500 or better record in Big Ten play.

While a .500 record in the Big Ten may not eliminate the need to win a game at the conference tournament in Indianapolis, it’s hard to see a team that wins 19 games and nine games in a top two conference being left out.

A look at the conference as a whole

As for the Big Ten at-large, most of the projections have it as a six-bid league. Right now, you can probably only put Iowa, Michigan State and Michigan as the teams that are “locks” to make it at this point and that’s because teams like Ohio State, Wisconsin and Minnesota already have five conference losses each.

In looking at the potential for other teams to join the bubble, Northwestern and Nebraska currently make the strongest cases as the Wildcats are 5-5 in Big Ten play with two top 50 wins and four road wins and the Cornhuskers are 3-5 in league play but have just two top 50 wins and zero road wins. Illinois, which once looked to be in good shape after a solid non-conference record and a 2-0 start in league play, is in a complete free fall.

2014 Tournament Sites 

· First round: Dayton
· Second, third round: Buffalo, Milwaukee, Orlando, Raleigh, San Antonio, San Diego, Spokane, St. Louis
· Regional: Anaheim, Indianapolis, Memphis, New York
· Final Four: Dallas

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  • GaHoosier

    You are the master of back-handed comments against UK.

    LOVE IT!!!!!! 🙂

    I hate everything Calipari has done to college basketball.

  • yimyames

    Exposure is also huge. I get the OP point but NW is a bad example.

  • jmoney

    Exactly what I’ve thought all year. If we can get another road win or two and make it back to .500 in conference, then I think we’ll squeak into the dance. I like our chances as the underdog…

  • RonB

    You are right! Some Sports Casters Like Jay Bilas for one has some faith in IU he has us ranked 42nd and likely a teamn that get in. but no more losses at home and win a couple on the road

  • SCHoosier

    MN. has two quality bigs..a great new Yogi like point guard..and some shooters (altho neither of the Hollins boys have really lighted it up this yea)r. They use a soft zone press into a full zone..and that sounds like enuff stuff to be a 5 pt favorite at home.

  • E Foy McNaughton

    I mentioned it. I have no idea why CTC hasn’t tried it, he’s literally tried every other combo possible !!! And the shot blocking / rebounding would be impressive.

  • Aceman_Mujezinovic_07

    They came in and knocked off the Hoosiers at Assembly Hall when it seemed highly improbable. Maybe these Hoosiers can get a little bit of payback and help turn their bubble into at least a semi-solid material?

  • Michael McColly

    I was never so angry at Bob Knight than that embarrassing game. Reminds me of his famous rape comment. Well his players nor his fans “didn’t enjoy it.” I remember that being the straw that broke the camels back for me. Get him out.

  • Michael McColly

    I don’t see them losing badly to anyone on this schedule. The pressure is off from AH crowd which as we saw can really make it difficult psychologically if they’re struggling as in the NW game. I think they can get to the 500 mark with NW and Minn wins. OSU and PSU, Nebraska, See a few close loses the rest, but no beat downs. The tournament in Indy will be a real battleground and god damn it its time to win up there, break out and go on a run to at least the final game. We’ve never won this thing, which is in our back yard with IU fans eating up the tickets as soon as other teams lose. Three wins there is a big deal, four and we’ve sealed even a decent bid. Maybe even get the Indy regional, too, if pull it off.

  • Alford Bailey

    NCAA no doubt. They need the experience on the big scene if we are gonna make a decent run next year. Its a great question, though.

  • HoosierPat

    I’d rather have IU in the tourney. However, if IU does end up in the NIT, they’d better win the whole thing.

  • ForeverIU

    7 three pointers on CBS will make you many enemies.

  • Mattcolliu

    Making the big dance is very helpful in recruiting, too. Trying to approach kids after an NIT berth wouldn’t sway them near as much.

  • BT

    You can’t be serious. I’d rather the bus broke down on the way to the play-in game in the NCAA than win the NIT.

  • Bleeding Crimson

    Just a reminder, I do recall many posters at the beginning of the year saying something to the effect ” that it’s going to be a wild ride with so many young players, ups and downs but fun to watch our young guys grow”…and look what we have. It’s been fun and I expect more of the same and will still be proud of my Hoosiers regardless where we end up. I predict .500 in the B1G, win a few games in our tourney and get to the dance.


    I think if Luke had not left, we wouuld have seen lineups with two bigs regularly.

  • Snookafly

    I like your thinking. It’s just “Good Indiana” has yet to show up away from home.

  • Aiken_Hoosier

    True, but it won’t erase the images already in my mind’s eye.

    “What has been seen cannot be unseen.”


  • marcusgresham

    One question I have: is the strength of schedule only considering games played thus far or is it the entire season? If so, look at that number–54. For all the consternation about the weak non-conference schedule, 54 is not that low. Certainly it could be a bit higher, but it’s far from too low for the committee to get an accurate representation of the team’s capabilities.

  • marcusgresham

    Good point—but at least when Harris kills you it’s to be expected. I’d rather get mauled by a guy who looks like he should be doing it to you than by a pencil-necked geek like Jay Burson, a guy with a 6th grade girl’s jumper like John Shurna, or a Sideshow Bob look-alike like Mike Bruszewitz.

  • marcusgresham

    “Good Indiana” made it to East Lansing, it just didn’t stick around for 40 minutes.

  • marcusgresham

    You have no idea how difficult it is for me to type any comment about that place without profanity. Alex should be proud of my ability to self-monitor.

  • E Foy McNaughton

    I would agree in the advantage of going to UK over NW because NW doesn’t have any other NBA talent on their team. However, I think the advantage of going to an NBA mill like UK over IU, Michigan, MSU, Florida, Georgetown, etc. is nominal at best. There are going to be at a minimum other talented players that will end up playing overseas and reduce double teams, etc.

    I think Cook Hall has put IU in a great position to recruit 2-3 year players. I personally would rather let UK get the one & dones because there simply isn’t enough time for the team to jell and become a real NCAA champion threat. The UK championship was, in my opinion, an exception and not the rule. They 3 experienced players hold over for that year due to the upcoming NBA strike. That’s not likely to happen again.

  • E Foy McNaughton

    You may very well be right about no bad losses. I just look at this team and think of the roller coaster that has been the 2013-2014 season. I see them gaining confidence and then having a let down game like the NW game. A let down game against Iowa or Michigan would be a train wreck.

    I also think that the tournament committee will be to a point where if you finish 500 or better in the B1G, your in…. regardless of the tournament. Assuming IU finishes middle of the pack in the regular season, they will face another middle of the pack, talented, hungry team.

    What would be SUPER fun is to see them figure it all out before the B1G tournament, get hot, get confident, and win the darn thing! Then roll through the NCAA to the final 4. Honestly, the gap between the top 4 teams in the country and IU isn’t that large.

  • E Foy McNaughton

    I always enjoy your posts Milla, even if I don’t agree with them!

  • E Foy McNaughton

    I think you are correct. If Luke had stayed, the starters would be NV, Luke, Will, Stan & Yogi, with TW coming off the bench as the 6th man. Possibly flipping TW & Luke. It’s a shame, but we have to understand a kid being homesick.

  • ChitwoodIN

    Funniest thing I’ve read this week…..if Anthony Davis went to Northwestern. I feel like there’s a punchline in that somewhere.
    I get what you were saying though.

  • E Foy McNaughton

    I believe that IU has grown up while playing in the B1G. If you play better competition, you learn to play better…. If you play the JV teams, you just get good at beating up on JV teams. Now that IU is firmly back in the mix as a good team, we need to start scheduling a real preseason that preps us for the B1G. Just saying…. although Stoney Brook somehow ends up on the ESPN highlights routinely.

  • VAHoosier

    That’s interesting, because I heard folks screaming for it all season before Luke left, and it almost never happened (I think Luke and Noah were in the lineup for about 2 minutes once). I’m not confident that Crean would have played 2 bigs even if Luke had stuck around.

  • VAHoosier

    Not trying to put words in your mouth, but are you saying making it onto ESPN highlights is the measure of how good a team is?

  • kbb247

    I think this years team is playing out about like we thought. Won a couple we shouldn’t have, and lost a couple we shouldn’t have. I will admit not exactly as I would have predicted. I agree with what most everyone has said. Finsh 500 in the Big 10 (which will probably be 6th) and we are in. Finish 1 game under 500, then we probably need to make the championship of the BIG 10 tourney. I have always thought that, if (and that is a big if) this team can get in that they a will be more dangerous than last years team. Can than win it all?? I seriously doubt it, but a trip to the elite 8 wouldn’t surprise me either. If they make it, they will be peaking at the right time, because they are going to have to string some wins together. This team can play lock down defense, and is a lot more rugged than last years team. They have a lot more grit, and seem to get the rebounds they need. This is exactly the type of team, that nobody wants to see in the tourney. Their games are ugly, gritty, and physical.

  • calbert40

    The bubble watch usually comes down to what the selection committee values most: Last 10 games, RPI, Top 50 wins, bad losses, road record, etc. Also, for us it may depend on whether the committee is inclined to take the #6 or #7 B1G school instead of the #2 or #3 school from a mid major. I know they claim they don’t look at that stuff, but they are human. I think that enters into the conversation.

    We’ve beaten two Top 10 teams this year, and we have some opportunities to play some good teams in the next few weeks too. We can shut the door on the bubble talk with some good wins down the stretch.

  • deebo

    They also press a lot too. Gotta keep to’s down

  • CreamandCrimson

    I sense a theme here Marcus…that’s racist! (I’m joking)

  • CreamandCrimson

    To answer your question…that number is based on games that have already been played. So, our SOS number should improve by Selection Sunday (I would guess we would end somewhere around 40).

  • marcusgresham

    OK, then. Let me add grandfatherly-looking figures like Granville Waiters, fat guys like Robert Traylor or that Brazilian Almeida guy from Nebraska (not that he did much damage,) and dudes who look 14 like that guy at Penn St. a few years ago, (hey, it’s Penn St. basketball–I can’t be expected to remember an actual name.)

  • CreamandCrimson

    Haha…great names/memories! I’ll add a recent one…Khalif Wyatt from Temple. He was slow, undersized and looked out of shape and then he scored, and scored and kept on scoring.

    I really was just kidding, love your posts and the insight and humor you add.

  • JetpackJunky

    There’s a reason we don’t hang NIT banners in Assembly Hall

  • Hardwood83

    Same reason we don’t hang first round NCAA exit banners.

  • Walt

    Glad I asked question about the 2 playing. The rebounding and shot blocking would be great to watch. JH is probably a wonderful kid, and so is Howard and whoever TC puts in, but having Hanner and Noah in the game seems like a positive. TC, if you read this work on Hanner for a couple of days.

  • Guyton25

    To me, this game will tell us if IU is a tournament team. Not because Minnesota is 35th in RPI and it’s at the Barn.. but because Minnesota excels at forcing turnovers and IU’s major flaw all season has been turning the ball over.

    If we keep our turnovers under 15, not only should we win but we’ll prove we have improved controlling the ball and therefore should be a March shoe in if we go .500 in BIG.. Which is a modest task considering we’d only need to beat PSU, PU, NEB, and NW.

  • TomJameson