Indiana faces North Carolina at NCAA tournament crossroads

  • 03/25/2016 8:52 am in

PHILADELPHIA – Max Bielfeldt has been in this position before.

In 2013, he was a member of a Michigan team that was the No. 4 seed in the South Region faced with the task of taking down the top seed, Kansas.

The Wolverines did that – and advanced all the way to the national championship game – but needed to overcome a 14-point second half deficit and use overtime to get past the Jayhawks.

Now Bielfeldt will try to help Indiana navigate through a similar situation and one that the Hoosiers have yet to get past in the NCAA tournament under Tom Crean: the Sweet Sixteen.

Indiana has been here twice under Crean, in 2012 and 2013. In 2012, no one expected the Hoosiers to win, and they didn’t, but they gave eventual national champion Kentucky a stiff test in Atlanta. The 2013 appearance was a different story as the top seeded Hoosiers were stunned by Syracuse in Washington D.C., a loss that current IU point guard Yogi Ferrell was a part of.

Which route will the Hoosiers take? Bielfeldt said Thursday that he views the Sweet Sixteen as the crossroads of the tournament.

“I’d say the Sweet Sixteen is the point of the tournament where a team is at the crossroads,” he explained. “It’s either lose and you’re done or if you win that game, you really get momentum to go deeper in the tournament.

“I think with the way it is set up right now with us playing the No. 1 seed in our region, it would be a huge win for us to propel us. We’re at that crossroads where we’ve got to make a decision. We’ve got to start playing our best basketball right now or the season is going to be over.”

For North Carolina, their veterans Brice Johnson and Marcus Paige are viewing tonight’s game in a similar light.

Paige and Johnson bowed out in the second round their first two seasons at North Carolina before advancing to the Sweet Sixteen as juniors to face eventual national runner-up Wisconsin.

Paige said Thursday that he was just excited to be in the second weekend of the tournament a year ago, but is approaching it with a different mindset this time around.

“We expect to get to Houston. This is another thing in the way of preventing us from getting there,” he said. “We’ve got to take care of our business. I think we’ve earned the right to have that mentality as a one seed, but that’s not going to win the game tomorrow.”

So what is going to win the game?

For North Carolina, it’s getting the ball inside. Paige said the Tar Heels will be trying to get the ball as close to the basket as possible on every possession. That means the Hoosiers are going to need to be extra sharp defensively, particularly in transition where North Carolina is most dangerous.

Indiana knows it must play one of its best games of the season to move on, which means the Hoosiers must take care of the ball and move it around for the best shot possible.

“These games are set to where if you don’t come in prepared and you get away from what you’ve done that’s made you successful, you lose,” Collin Hartman said Thursday.

“We just want to beat them to the punch,” Troy Williams added. “We’ve got to get out and run with them. Transition defense is going to be key for us and we’ve got to make the right plays on offense.”

As well as Indiana’s season has gone to this point – and it has gone very well with an outright regular season Big Ten championship and a win over Kentucky in the round of 32 – taking the next step would be a major accomplishment for the program.

“There’s a little more energy around it,” Bielfeldt said. “This is where it gets down to a dog fight. Every team wants it bad. They’ve all made it this far and have won two big games. To continue to win games, you have to keep that mentality and be razor sharp.”

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  • IUMIKE1

    THAT would DEFINITELY be Good Troy !! lol Old Man wouldn’t have to worry about defending him against anybody after that one. lol

    Actually I’d settle for shooting 50 % shooting, scoring over 20 and it being done in under 30 minutes…..that’s not too much to ask for is it ?

    That would be him playing himself onto some mock draft boards. I’ve looked at more than one or two and I didn’t see him on any of them for the first round.

  • IUMIKE1

    Just when I’d thought I’d seen and heard it all. Kumbaya and an Ole Man comment, two things one would not necessarily associate together. I love it !! lol Hell, if that kind of thing can happen anything is possible tonight !! lol

  • ForeverIU

    Ha ha you must not know Ole Man.

  • Sandra Wilson

    So you were a big supporter the last couple of years ?…..There is always a way to quiet criticism, grumbling, and to relieve the pressure…..WIN !

  • ForeverIU

    I had to check several times to make sure you were really the author! From cryptic one-liners to this. You must be in an uncharacteristically sentimental mood. LOL.

  • ForeverIU

    Congrats, you’re the first zombie to wake up. LOL.

  • IU Hoosiers # 34, 1979-83

    Forever! You in a bar yet? If not better get going!!!! Keep it up! 3 hours left till tip off.

  • ForeverIU

    Not yet, LOL. I’m going on a bike ride with my 7-year-old. Can’t wait.

  • IU Hoosiers # 34, 1979-83

    Don’t fall. Big night ahead.

  • Boycott NC

    Battle of the bigots.

  • ForeverIU

    Already mofos being belligerent on the streets.

  • INUnivHoosier

    Take it to a political board. It has nothing to do with these teams.

  • IU Hoosiers # 34, 1979-83

    Well Yeah!!! i’m sure it is already wild in Bloomington. It’s time for all the amateurs to come out.

  • Gosh, its’ less than an hour away and I’m goin’ nuts…

  • bleeding crimson

    Keep in mind that when we discuss our foes we don’t call the by their state name we call them PukE or just like puKE or Peeyou, etc.

  • bleeding crimson

    I getting ready to pick up 50 hot wings and party with our win. You’re right it can’t get here fast enough already.

  • bleeding crimson

    I really hope that he learned a lot by watch the team work hard, come together and play as a team and not be the one and done player like he thought he was going to be.

  • ForeverIU

    LOL, I understand how you feel. But yeah, remember that our players if anything are victims of bigotry, not its perpetrators.

  • ForeverIU

    Cool it. Why do you always feel the need to police ITH? Yes we’ll probably get deleted by the mods, but it’s refreshing to see someone like him/her making an appearance on this board.

  • ForeverIU

    There was a herd of undergrad aholes walking down Kirkwood, and the lead ahole looked at me and without shame said: you fu*k hard, and repeated it several times. He didn’t even look like a fun guy; he looked mean and not even enjoying himself. Never in my many years in Bloomington has anyone so blatantly shouted something like this in my face. Strange times indeed.

  • bleeding crimson

    I went to more IU games for the 1st two years during CTC tenure then I have the last 5 years of coaching when he 1st arrived. I enjoyed every game even when we sucked. But you won’t find a bigger fan, I will always support the team and the coaching staff. Just take a look at L’ville it took Coach P 12 years before he went to the FF and then win the NCAA.. It takes time to bring a team out of the gutter.
    The best thing is we have a respectable group of kids that get their Diploma’s…more than what most schools can say.
    Winning is very important to us IU fans but not everything to these young kids. I would rather have a respectable school and do very good then win and have a bunch of thugs.

  • bleeding crimson

    They will come. Just give them some blood.

  • bleeding crimson

    Ok Time to go, I’ll see you guys after the game….
    Go Hoosiers.

  • IU Hoosiers # 34, 1979-83

    Alcohol muscles. That takes class to have that said to you and you took the mature route by moving on. Good for you. That idiot will get his butt whipped, cops are out there. You’ll see.

  • ForeverIU

    Ok buddy, off to a pub on Kirkwood. Will hopefully text from there. Go Hoosiers! I can’t remember the last time I looked forward to a game so much.

  • IU Hoosiers # 34, 1979-83

    Have a great one!!!

  • IU Hoosiers # 34, 1979-83

    75% of the Sweet Sixteen games done. ZERO upsets so far. IU up next!!!!!

  • Ben thorne

    Good luck gentlemen. Have some fun

  • ForeverIU

    Making us look like amateurs will be look if end the first half down by ten. But our kids are fighters.

  • ForeverIU

    Why the hell is Troy taking the 3s? Ridiculous coaching by Crean screw this game.

  • We’re lucky to be down by 11. But they’re shooting the lights out.

  • We’ve been a second half team for awhile now. We start hitting and they cool down just a little, let’s see how things finish up.

  • INUnivHoosier

    Pretty sure that ball is biased.

  • Sure seems that way.

  • INUnivHoosier

    Always? Anyways.

    This whole topic has nothing to do with these players. With all due respect, screw off.

  • DB

    Looks like “bad Troy” showed up ?

  • DB

    The officials need to let both teams play. I HATE knit-picking the players. It’s a contact sport!!!!!!

  • Well, as of the last few minutes, it’s been the Good Troy show. Only reason it’s still even remotely within reach.

  • The last three he’s hit have answered your question.

  • ForeverIU

    Screw off yourself you pretentious sarcastic passive aggressive schmuck.

  • ForeverIU

    Too late. Crean always plays shy against big competition

  • Show-Me-State HOOSIER

    We were out played, and the refs were HORRIBLE!!!!!!!! As of now, we dont deserve to win, but this one sided bull$hit reffing is horrible! We didn’t shoot well, spread the floor well or play well. Great season guys! Love my HOOSIERS!

  • ForeverIU

    Please don’t blame the refs. I’m sick and tired of it. Crean will never go past a Sweet 16.

  • IU Cal 1809

    Did he not get to final four with Wade? And have u ever seen a team get to the bonus at 16 min mark of the second half?

  • IU Hoosiers # 34, 1979-83

    Take care everyone on ITH. I really enjoyed this year with all. All my best.

  • IU Hoosiers # 34, 1979-83

    Take care buddy. Let me know if you are ever in the Naperville, iL area.

  • SilentBob

    Yea, no the refs were awful and that deserves to be pointed out. Can’t make a comeback against the best team in the country, that happens to be blazing hot and making everything even with two hands in their face, with the refs against you too.

  • ForeverIU

    I will IU 34. Thanks.

  • Ben thorne

    Very proud. No excuses. Great season.

  • INUnivHoosier

    Not sure about the pretentious part.