Roundup: National writers weigh-in on IU’s Sweet Sixteen chances

  • 03/22/2016 9:37 am in

After beating Chattanooga and Kentucky in Des Moines in the 2016 NCAA tournament first and second rounds, Indiana is moving on to Philadelphia this weekend for a meeting with top-seeded North Carolina. The Hoosiers and Tar Heels will tip off at approximately 9:57 p.m. ET at the Wells Fargo Center.

Here’s a roundup of what writers from around the country are saying about IU’s chances in the Sweet Sixteen:

· Mike DeCourcy of The Sporting News ranks the 16 remaining teams in order of their chances to win the national championship:

3. Indiana

The Hoosiers survived perhaps the most difficult second-round game of any team left on the board. That’s not to say they played the closest game, but rather they had to beat the best team to stay alive. Kentucky was a monstrous challenge for IU, and here comes one bigger. Indiana has become a far better defensive team; the last time they played an opponent with a true double-post game, they managed a four-point home win over Purdue, but when they faced a similar attack against Michigan State on the road they were beaten by 19.

· Jeff Eisenberg of Yahoo! Sports performs that same exercise, but is less bullish on the Hoosiers:

7. Indiana
How it got here: Defeated Chattanooga (12), Kentucky (4)
Up next: North Carolina (1)
Outlook: What was so impressive about Indiana’s second-round victory over Kentucky wasn’t merely the outcome. It was that the high-scoring Hoosiers did it with defense, holding the Wildcats to just 0.94 points per possession, silencing their talented but erratic frontcourt and forcing Jamal Murray to take 18 shots to get his 16 points. Indiana has the firepower to contend for a national title if it can continue to defend at that level, but the Big Ten champs do not have an easy path. Up next for the Hoosiers: a showdown with ACC champion North Carolina.

· On ESPN Insider, John Gasaway has the most important number to know for each Sweet 16 team:

Indiana

Number to know: 0.94
At the risk of oversimplifying, Indiana is in the Sweet 16 because it held Kentucky to 0.94 points per possession. The remarkable improvement charted by the Hoosiers’ defense has received its fair share of notice, but IU recording this kind of performance in the NCAA tournament against an excellent Wildcats offense is frankly something I never could have imagined in November. UK went just 4-of-16 on its 3s, and even if it’s true that the Wildcats’ struggles can be attributed to simply not hitting shots, it’s also true that Kentucky made less than half of its 2s and gave the ball away on 22 percent of its possessions. It was something of a riveting and tense rock fight, really, and Indiana emerged as the survivor.

· The Worldwide Leader also has this handy “chances to advance chart” for each region and gives the Hoosiers a 22 percent chance of moving on to Houston:

chancestoadvance

· Thomas Bryant is the player to watch in the East Regional, according to Sports Illustrated:

Yogi Ferrell routinely steals the show for the Hoosiers, but Thomas Bryant might have been the biggest reason this program got past Kentucky in the second round. Bryant, a skilled 6’10’’ freshman center, scored 15 of his team-high 19 points in the final eight minutes of Indiana’s 73–67 win over the No. 4 Wildcats. Watching Bryant match up against the likes of Carolina’s Brice Johnson in the Sweet 16 could be a sight to behold.

· Five Thirty Eight has updated its March Madness predictions and gives IU just a 27 percent shot to beat North Carolina:

538hoosiers

· Yogi Ferrell is one of the 10 most valuable Sweet Sixteen players, according to USA Today:

The 6-1 guard has an Isiah Thomas flavor about him, playing with an edge to fuel a team.

The Hoosiers wouldn’t be Big Ten regular-season champs or in the Sweet 16 without him, that’s for sure. In Indiana’s program-lifting win against rival Kentucky, Ferrell scored 18 points and hit several clutch shots.

He had 20 points and 10 assists in the first-round win against Chattanooga.

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  • Corey Dunigan

    Yogi getting taller…..

  • Mike

    Watched the Indiana Temple game on BTN last night and Yogi looks significantly taller and stronger now than he did his freshman year. The official IU roster has his height/weight the same all four years (within 2 pounds)

  • yes, I guess.. It is apparently a well known fact, he has grown almost two inches this year… lol What, did they measure them recently, and just not tell us?

  • BL

    When it comes to big front lines (double-post teams), guess DeCourcy missed the more recent Mary game. MSU is old news.

  • IU Cal 1809

    I hope couch puts up that five thirty eight predictions in the locker room! Let them see that the so called bball guys give them 3% chance to hang #6! This team thrives when ppl say they can’t do something.

  • BeneathTheBanners

    Boy, I love seeing this team as underdogs for at least one more game. For some reason I’m feeling really optimistic for a good showing Friday night.

  • calbert40

    The only reason that their FF chances are low is that we play UNC first. They are the consensus favorites right now. If we were in the West, for example, our 538 prediction would be much higher. If you look at that chart, you will see that we have the 2nd highest percentage chance of getting to the FF in the East (behind UNC). In other words, the projections models think if we get past UNC…look out!

  • PS IU

    I agree. This team is connected and are playing for each other (and Hoosier Nation).

  • Tim Cody

    Fivethirtyeight isn’t really basketball people, they are data scientists. I don’t know how much motivation is to be had from proving a computer model wrong.

  • iuoiu

    Well to be fair, their predictions are much more about what their models spit out than personal opinion.

  • SilverAtlanta

    Love the fact that the Hoosiers are in the conversation but thought of as an underdog. Nothing better than showing the world what they can do!

  • Drew

    FWIW, 538 had our chances of beating Kentucky at 43% 10 minutes into the 2nd half against them. Sleep on the Hoosiers at your own risk.

  • Ivy Walls

    All this is conflated statistical fluff right now. Playoff and tournament games are not played in statistical imaginary skulls, they are played on the court with a dynamic interplay of the present where in that one day so many intangible and human factors come into play. I think I might do some quadratics on the last ten games between efficiencies on O and D. The biggest issue is RoJo as Crean said his ankle is gimpy. That could be dysinformation as preparation is complex. RoJo playing ten min effectively changes things. Could allow Yogi two breathers.

    Think IU will have to do a few things differently in this game. Defensively allow UNC to shoot from 22 ft, but have all hands on the D boards, run outs only in steals, long rebounds or after buckets if available,like MD. Bryant offensively moved to high post then dive to the rim, if he can hit a few outside jumpers it will move some of their front line away from the rim.

    The game will come down to whomever establishes their will over the other

  • N71

    As long as we keep winning, playing Kentucky, UNC, and then in theory Kansas we will have marched through a historic lineup, only one missing is Duke. The number of people who will have watched IU play this year will be huge which will go a long way towards further fortifying recruiting and therefore our program.

  • I think the motivation comes from seeing just how much you can improve. The statistical models say, “This is how you (and everyone else) played in the past.” I’m not saying the kids will get as cerebral as all that (could just be me, personally, I’m like that), but if they stop and think about it, beating this metric means playing better than they have.

    I mention this, because Yogi and others have said that they look to improve their own play more than prepare for the opposition. So, here’s a way to measure just that.

  • And yes, we beat PU by 4, but that was on a flurry of threes at the end, pretty much. As far as post play goes, we killed PU. And I still think we took the foot off the pedal a bit–we should have won by 20. Not to say PU is UNC, but if there’s any similarity in post play, the PU score is deceiving.

  • inLinE6

    22% and 27% chance of winning UNC? Seriously?? What made them think that way? Because we didn’t reach 100 point in first round and didn’t blow out Kentucky last Saturday? Or because UNC struggled in the first half of the first round? Or because we lost to Wake Forest last year?

  • SCHoosier

    It’s a little overboard to put TB in the same league right now as Brice Johnson of NC. I think Thomas will give him a battle but he has to learn to play in big games without fouling. NC has 3 good bigs..who will present a real challenge. Johnson stands out which is why he got the cover of last weeks SI!

  • I like TB in this game for his offense, but MB in for his defense. I don’t remember many people mentioning MB as a factor, but I think he’ll be vital in defending the post.

  • millzy32

    If we beat UNC we’ll instantly become a favorite to reach the title game. UNC is the toughest team on our side of the bracket by far right now

  • twarrior87

    i think it’s all based on statistics, algorithms, computers, etc. rather than what people who watch the games actually think.

  • Ben thorne

    Awesome…..then the curse is forthcoming.

  • Ben thorne

    What makes me feel great about Friday’s game is that we are overdue for a hot shooting night from outside. I think YF, NZ, and TW will all be hot from outside. Count it. And 1.

  • Aceman_Mujezinovic_07

    I think CTC might take a chance and start this game just he did against PU and Maryland by letting TB step out and take 1 or 2 jumpers from deep. If he can hit one and get in Johnson’s head and Coach Roy’s head then that could open up the lane a lot more. Brice is the scariest player we’ve seen on the interior this year! His athleticism is unreal but that doesn’t mean he can’t be moved and beaten.

  • Neal Moody

    Everyone has a game plan and has all these reasons to feel good about their chances until they actually take the floor against the Tar Heels and get punched in the face

  • vicbert caladipo

    I guess the 6 teams that punched them in the face don’t count as “Everyone”. I’m not so sure I feel good about your chances of making it back to your own fan sight.

  • Neal Moody

    actually referring to postseason games not the close road losses to quality teams….just don’t see Indiana’s close win over an overrated Kentucky team equating to a win over the most talented team in the nation that has already defeated every other acc team in the sweet sixteen and with a veteran back court and a veteran front court that should dominate inside over Indiana’s one inside player who is a freshman…but anything is possible I guess

  • Neal Moody

    well unless they shoot about 75% might be a long night for the overmatched Hoosiers

  • vicbert caladipo

    We were doubted against Iowa……twice…..when Iowa was ranked #3 and playing better than NC. Then it was Peeyoo with the huge front line. Then it was Maryland with their cast of NBA hopefuls. Then folks like you doubted us against Chattanooga. Then it was a no-brainer to doubt us against UK. Folks like you have doubted IU since Maui, but we are still here. Your team there was never much doubt all year and certainly none now. Your opening message was about people coming up with reasons why NC can lose. Seems you and most everyone outside of our fanbase has a ton of reasons why IU has no chance, yet we continue to punch these “better” teams in the face. Kind of conradictary, huh? Keep doubting IU. We like that. And by the way…..you punch us in the face….we punch back….and harder.

  • Neal Moody

    Indiana lost to Wake Forest, a team that I think was about 2-16 in the ACC…like I said anything is possible, but any team that loses to Wake Forest can not beat UNC unless UNC just plays their worst game by far of the season…

  • Ben thorne

    You’re right Neal. Why even bother playing this game.

    Both my brothers went to UNC. I sent them IU Basketball shirts and will send you one too.

  • Neal Moody

    Now you’re being ridiculous. They have to play the game or it wouldn’t be fair to all the people that purchased tickets.

  • vicbert caladipo

    I’m guessing Ben that this person isn’t getting enough attention on its own boards and feels the need to play the role of Captain Obvious on ours. Normally I wouldn’t upvote this, because you aren’t supposed to feed the trolls, but since I did too, I’m gonna throw you one. I am done with this clown. He’s stuck in that arrogant groove that is to be expected by a NC fan. Now what would be cool is if he was actually unique his own person rather than rehashing the obvious and here of all places. I’ll give you a vote and leave him to you.

  • Missing Moye

    Because November games are relevant!

  • Koko

    You mean like Northern Iowa punched yours?

  • Koko

    Close road loss to that quality team Northern Iowa?

  • Neal Moody

    Oh that road game without Marcus Paige against N. Iowa who should be in the sweet sixteen right now….not exactly like losing to woeful Wake Forest and UNLV and Penn St. Oh wait that was Indiana

  • Koko

    Northern Iowa was not a close road loss to a quality team….they kicked your butts….you can have a bad game. I hope you are ready for that possibility.

  • Koko

    Yes of course there is an excuse for losing at Northern Iowa….if only we would have had Marcus we would have won. Where was your bench in that game? I watched that game, Norhern Iowa made NC look foolish. I would have been embarrassed if I were an NC fan.

  • Koko

    If only Marcus could have played in the Northern Iowa game you would not have had your behinds handed to you….but of course you weren’t overmatched….right? By the way weren’t you ranked #1 going into that game? And you feel a need to tell us how bad the Wake Forest loss was for us?

  • DB

    So you are already concluding that if IU wins, it will have to be UNC’s worst game? How could you argue that BEFORE the game?

  • DB

    I still hold to my belief that when the Hoosiers play up to their potential, they can beat ANYBODY. Fans from other schools that haven’t actually watched IU games throughout the season really can’t understand that (not that they would admit it anyway). And when injuries are factored in, it should amaze anyone that we have that much talent across the board, with a huge shout out to Crean and staff for their part.
    I’m sure UNC is a great team, but again, if the Hoosiers play to their potential it simply won’t matter. Bam!!

  • calbert40

    I think UVA would be a tough match-up for us, if we both made the FF, but I agree with you. Our first game will be the toughest one to win.

  • Freemason

    Because he’s an idiot.

  • Freemason

    Tell your Aunt/wife to get a full set of teeth before you write a check your a$$ can’t cash.

  • Freemason

    But purdon’t has the best front line in the nation!…lol

  • Neal Moody

    You obviously haven’t been paying attention, N Iowa should be in the sweet 16 right now..and embarrassed? Well how embarrassing will it be when UNC rolls over Indiana? UNC’s three veteran big men will be way too much for Indiana’s one freshman foul prone big man….facts are facts

  • Neal Moody

    it was 4 points genius

  • Neal Moody

    because UNC by far is the most talented team, therefore, they would have to have a bad game for an inferior team to win…basic logic

  • DB

    “Basic logic” is that you are making conclusions based on presumptions, rather than premises that are true in every circumstance at all times. You might want to review “basic logic.” We understand your support of UNC, but don’t try to piss on our legs and tell us it’s raining.