March Watch: Hoosiers squarely on the bubble

  • 03/10/2015 10:46 am in

In last week’s March Watch, we wrote it was a critical week for Indiana’s NCAA tournament chances. Well, the Hoosiers lost to Iowa and Michigan State and now faces a must-win situation on Thursday versus Northwestern in the Big Ten tournament at the United Center in Chicago.

The Hoosiers are 19-12 overall and finished with a 9-9 record in Big Ten games, but have lost eight of their last 12 games. Their best win in that stretch came against Minnesota, a NIT team. And for the first time since March Watch debuted this season in early February, Indiana’s postseason fate is clearly up in the air.


Indiana’s tournament resume has some strengths, but is not without its weaknesses. On the plus side of things: The Hoosiers have wins over Butler, SMU, Ohio State and Maryland, four teams that are solidly in the field. IU has three wins over the RPI top 25, four over the RPI Top 50 and eight over the top 100. Working against Indiana is a recent loss to Northwestern and the fact that it picked up seven of its nine conference wins against the bottom half of the Big Ten. The Hoosiers clearly need a win Thursday against Northwestern to stay on the right side of the tournament bubble and may even need to beat Maryland on Friday to solidify a bid.

Nitty Gritty Profile

· Record: 19-12 (9-9 Big Ten)
· RPI: 58
· SOS: 31 (via CBS)
· Home Record: 15-4
· Away Record: 3-6
· Neutral Court Record: 1-2
· vs. RPI Top 50: 4-8 (via ESPN)
· vs. RPI Top 51-100: 4-3 (via ESPN)

Current Projections

· ESPN Bracketology (Joe Lunardi): 12 seed in West Region vs. BYU in Dayton (First Four game)
· CBS Sports (Jerry Palm): 11 seed in West Region vs. Ole Miss in Dayton (First Four game)
· Assembly Call (Andy Bottoms): 11 seed in South Region vs. Temple in Dayton (First Four game)
· Crashing the Dance: No. 39 overall seed
· Bracket Matrix: Third No. 12 seed

How far Indiana fell in projections in just one week is staggering. In the ESPN bracket, the Hoosiers fell two seed lines. In the CBS bracket and the Assembly Call bracket, it was a four seed line drop. The Crashing the Dance model dropped Indiana seven spots in the overall seeding in one week and Bracket Matrix dropped the Hoosiers from the top No. 7 seed a week ago to the third No. 12 seed.

A look at the conference as a whole

As for the Big Ten at-large, the latest ESPN bracketology still has the league as a seven-bid league with Indiana as one of the “last four in” and Purdue as one of the “last four byes.” Illinois is currently listed among the “next four out.” Here’s a brief look at other profiles across the league:

· Wisconsin (28-3, RPI 4): The Badgers are the top two-seed in most projections and will probably need an early upset of Duke in the ACC tournament to get to the top line. Most concerning to the Badgers if they are to receive a two-seed is the prospect of getting tossed into Kentucky’s bracket, which could easily happen if Wisconsin is sent to the regional closest to Madison (Cleveland).

· Maryland (26-5, RPI 9): Maryland has won seven in a row and continue to win close games better than anyone in the league. As a result, Mark Turgeon and the Terps are right on the cusp of a No. 2 seed.

· Michigan State (21-10, RPI 27): Two big wins for Michigan State last week – Purdue at home and Indiana in Bloomington – lifted the Spartans to a double-bye in the Big Ten tournament, which could be crucial as Branden Dawson works his way back from a head injury. The Spartans are a No. 7 seed in most projections.

· Iowa (21-10, RPI 40): Besides Maryland, Iowa might be the hottest team in the conference. The Hawkeyes are below Michigan State in the RPI, but have the third best resume in the league. Given that this team was just 15-10 a few weeks ago, it’s been a nice reversal of fortune for Fran McCaffery and company.

· Ohio State (22-9, RPI 42): The Buckeyes are a lock to make the field, but the weak non-conference schedule likely has this team headed for an 8-9 game unless it can pull off a run in Chicago. However, with D’Angelo Russell playing as well as anyone, this is a team that no one will want to face in the tournament.

· Purdue (20-11, RPI 56): Purdue is in the best shape of the three Big Ten bubble teams with a double-bye to Friday in the Big Ten tournament, but the Boilermakers are likely to get Iowa and a loss there could make things interesting again. Still, it’s hard to imagine Purdue, a team that won 20 regular season games and 12 league games, getting sent to the NIT.

· Illinois (19-12, RPI 61): Illinois is in a similar position to Indiana with a must-win scenario on Thursday in the Big Ten tournament. The Fighting Illini will take on Michigan and if they win, they’ll get top-seeded Wisconsin. A win against Michigan won’t do much more than help Illinois hold its current position, which means that a win over the Badgers is probably a necessity for Illinois to go dancing.

2015 Tournament Sites 

· First round: Dayton
· Second, third round: Charlotte, Columbus, Louisville, Jacksonville, Omaha, Pittsburgh, Portland, Seattle
· Regional: Cleveland, Houston, Los Angeles, Syracuse
· Final Four: Indianapolis

Filed to:

  • ’11Hoosier

    It will likely be a tough ending for the third consecutive season

  • Hoosier Hall

    Well, I hoped for a better end to the regular season and better seeding in the tourney but if I can pull one positive from this article… Dayton is less than 3 hours from Bloomington so I’m betting we will have some fans in attendance if we have to be in the play-in game.

  • Gregory Spera

    With the tank job the Hoosiers pulled again this year, dumping their last three home games and going 1-4 in their last five, it’s hard to make the argument that all of the criticism Crean has absorbed is unwarranted. Some of it has certainly crossed a line. Why we are in this position is another, much more involved discussion. But there is still at least one more game to play. If the players truly honor their head coach, then they need to man-up and beat Northwestern. Period. For everyone involved, this might literally be a “must win” game.

  • Kyl470

    Agreed. For all the talk of players loving coach Crean and not wanting to play for anyone else then it’s time for the players to step up for their coach. It all starts with effort on the defensive end. We have collectively as a group (myself included) criticized our coaching philosophy on defense, blamed lack of size, blamed individual players, but in the end defense really comes down to effort. I don’t think this team needs to full court press all game, but as soon as the guy with the ball crosses half court their needs to be a guard in his face applying ball pressure. Every player needs to put it upon himself that when his man has the ball that he needs to get in the players face and make him uncomfortable with the ball. If you get beat off the dribble who cares at least you didn’t just sit back and let the offensive player take open shots or make it easy on him to deliver a pass.

  • Speed

    As Hoosier fans we expect more. Some say we already have over-achieved but how can you over-achieve when you lose five of the last six? Time to man up Hoosiers

  • Has there ever been a team from a power conference put into a play in game?

  • Speed

    Saw an article yesterday where fans at the high school game of Crean’s son started a derogatory chant against CTC. If correct that totally crosses the line. It is a sad day if Hoosier fans have sank this low.

  • Gregory Spera

    That was supposedly just a group of high school kids at BHSS trying to rattle Crean’s son, who plays for BHSN. High school kids are, well… stupid.

  • Speed

    Appreciate the insight and that makes sense.

  • Tcuomo

    Iowa lost to Tennessee in last years play in. It happens ever year.

  • Gregory Spera

    I always thought those four “play in” games they tacked on to the tournament were dumb… UNTIL NOW!

  • INUnivHoosier

    Yeah. Still sad, but kids are generally idiots.

  • Hoosier Hall

    Yes, pretty common nowadays.

  • Hoosier Hall

    I still think they are silly. Just go ahead and double the entire field and cancel the conference tournaments.

  • Hoosier Hall

    That is exactly what teams like Virginia and Louisville do with great success. Make the offensive team “uncomfortable”. We allow teams to pretty much do whatever they want on offense. Get in their mug and make them take bad shots and throw bad passes.

  • hoosier93

    I’d say it’s pretty normal. Sounds like something HS kids would do. Plus it was the Sectiona Championship right? By then kids are pulling all trolling cards out of their pocket.

  • E Foy McNaughton

    That is totally unfair to CTC and his son. Those kids and the school should be ashamed of themselves. I remember a game when RMK came out on the court and directed the fans to stop an inappropriate chant. The school should have done the same. Shame on them.

  • Sherronhasaheadache

    Hoosiers need to win to 2 games in the BIG tournament to get in is my gut feeling . the way they are playing Norhtwestern may be too strong for us

  • Lance76

    I agree with you, but it’s all about the $. Also, every team needs to play every other team home and away. Maybe home and away and cutting some of the preseason cupcakes would make sense.

  • CreamandCrimson

    I posted this on a previous thread but I’ll post it again here because I found it to be incredibly telling about how this team has “performed” over the past two months….

    Since January 10 (two months ago today and a win over Ohio State), IU has beaten the following squads: Maryland (probably our peak this season), Rutgers (x2), Michigan and Minnesota. To quote the great Tony Kornheiser, “that’s it, that’s the list”. Only 3 victories over a team with a pulse (and Minnesota would be debatable). I have numerous questions about why the Hoosiers consistently have February and March collapses but the topic can’t be ignored or overlooked. I don’t have the answers but I sincerely hope the IU administration does and that we can avoid our fanbase falling into the dangerous emotion of apathy.

  • BC2

    every team will have a tough ending except 1.

  • fourputtsforsnowman

    It is interesting to think about. My 2 cents worth: It appears that each year the IU squad doesn’t improve much during the year (individually or as a team) while almost all other teams do. I felt that MSU gutted out a victory in AH last weekend because although they played poorly (how many tip in’s/layups did they miss…quite a few…and they shot poorly and they didn’t have their best player and Izzo admitted he coached poorly) they still functioned as a seasoned team. IU showed no such seasoning after, well, a full season together.

  • iubase

    Crucial game for iU. Hopefully we can get the defensive stops and not have a big 2nd half lull. Need the NW game.

  • beer30

    If any part of this season has been considered overachieving for our basketball program, then we’re migrating our expectations towards the football program. We barely ever even cracked the top 25…

  • WhatsUpKnight2.0

    not exactly sure why, but i think we win this one. we’re due, right?!?!

  • Tcuomo

    Me too. I definitely don’t consider it the “first round” that they try to bill it as. I will say this though, Tennessee made a run to the Sweet 16 and was a possession away from going to the Elite 8. Sometimes these play in teams make a run a la VCU 2011. I won’t hold my breath though.

  • Snookafly

    Our Butler and SMU wins have kept us afloat all season, but I’ve gotta say both of those teams are completely overrated.

  • IUJeff

    We had better pressure them. They will dice us up in the half court set otherwise.

    The dookie will have a game plan and we better bring one as well.

  • IUJeff

    The better coached team will win it. Will it be Crean or a young coach fresh off the Coach K/Coach K tree?

  • IU diehard from CT

    Not “literary”. “Actually”. It’s 100% a must win

  • ’11Hoosier

    ’11-’12 was a great season. Indiana went to the Sweet Sixteen and I couldn’t have been prouder. You don’t’ have to win the national championship to avoid disappointment.

  • Zach

    Need to beat NW and MD to feel relatively safe about dancing. Don’t think beating just Northwestern is going to cut it with cinderella conference tournament teams stealing bids from teams like us on the bubble. The worst part is I’ll be in class/driving home during the NW game Thursday 🙁

  • MarylandHoosier1986

    Ultimate lose-lose situation. Lose early in the Big 10 tourney and then get beat early in the NIT or go 2-1 in the Big 10 tourney and get thumped in the first game of the NCAA. Win-win? Fire Fred Glass and Tom Crean.

  • Gregory Spera

    Not “literary,” LITERALLY.

    in a literal manner or sense; exactly.

    “The driver took it literally when asked to go straight across the traffic circle.”

    synonyms: exactly, precisely, actually, really, truly

  • IU diehard from CT

    Forgot the l’s. They need the win.

  • Eljay

    Maryland? OSU?

  • Gregory J. Haggard

    I’m glad you mentioned that.
    My heart sank when I read Speeds post, but i can accept the opposing team saying bad stuff easier, and is still pretty sad.

  • Snookafly

    Two very respectable wins…out of 31 games.

  • Eljay

    Two—in addition to the two you already mentioned. That’s four. Any road win in the conference is also respectable.

  • Snookafly

    Ehh…again, Butler and SMU are overrated, and the B1G is way down compared to past seasons. Factor in the eight preconference cupcake games (one of which we lost) and it’s not that impressive a resume.

  • Eljay

    It’s about where we were expected to be after Devin’s injury.

  • Snookafly

    Maybe so. Still, we took a couple of vicious beatings against MSU and Louisville. The first Purdue game and Wisconsin were also fairly embarassing.