Ah, the Indiana Hoosiers — middle America’s claim to basketball fame.
The state of Indiana’s very sliver of relevancy in the continental 48, and the home of the most delusional fan base in the entire country, across any sport, professional or collegiate.
Indiana basketball and its fans rub me wrong in just about every conceivable way. A group chat I’m in has not one, but three Indiana alum who cape for Hoosiers’ ball as if it were the second coming of Christ on a court.
Now, as a critic of the sport, I’ll be the first to admit that the Indiana Hoosiers are one of the hottest teams in college basketball right now. They enter the Big Ten tournament on the heels of winning the conference’s regular season outright for the first time since 2013.
The Hoosiers finished their season winning six of their last seven games, including wins over Iowa twice, Purdue, and Maryland. And that’s not their only impressive streak of the season. Tom Crean’s team rattled off 12 straight wins between December 5th and January 23rd (including Notre Dame) after stumbling out to a 4-3 start.
Senior point guard Yogi Ferrell is arguably the best floor general in college basketball and head coach Tom Crean was announced the AP Big Ten Coach of the Year earlier this week.
Everything in this here world is pointing Indiana’s direction as they prepare to make a run deep into March.
This is the point where my praise heel turns into reality quicker than Hulk Hogan at “Bash At The Beach.” The Indiana Hoosiers are not making it past the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament.
That is a reality.
Their success in the regular season is nothing more than a facade. Life is easy when you play the 99th ranked schedule in the country.
Their non-conference SOS is 199th nationally, and while you can try and trot out the, “it’s not easy to win Big Ten games argument,” just stop. Indiana’s Big Ten schedule ranked 83rd in the land.
I’m sorry to disappoint, but Indiana has gotten away with playing nobody.
And playing them at home, which brings me to my next point. Postseason basketball is played on road/neutral courts. Indiana is 8-6 this season in such games, aka all of their losses have come away from home — including losses at 16-15 Penn State, 11-20 Wake Forest, and 17-14 UNLV.
Their best road win was a three-point victory at reeling Iowa. And the only other competent teams they’ve played on the road—Duke, Michigan State, and Wisconsin—all resulted in losses.
You’re not fooling anyone with a degree from anywhere else.
It’s as clear as day; Indiana is not the same basketball team away from Assembly Hall, and that’s large in part because Tom Crean has absolutely no idea what he’s doing 80 percent of the time.
They don’t rebound the ball well (106th overall) and turn the ball over at an alarming rate (266th overall).
To put the latter in perspective, there are only nine major conference teams that turn the ball over more — and West Virginia is the only one headed to the tournament. Indiana has already lost to two of them (UNLV, Wake). The others include Rutgers, Auburn, and TCU.
That is hilariously bad company for a Big Ten champion to be in.
So when March hits and the Hoosiers suit up away from home looking to make a deep run, which team is going to show up?
Is it going to be the regular season darlings pulling the wool over your eyes? Or is it going to be the classic Tom Crean squad yanking the rug clear from beneath your bracket?
I’ll tell you this when the three-ball stops dropping and the turnover inefficiency remains the same, I’ll be the one giddy with money-lined pockets knowing I took the latter.