Indiana March Madness: Will Hoosiers Make NCAA Tournament?

Getty Romeo Langford #0 of the Indiana Hoosiers prepares to shoot a free throw against the Purdue Boilermakers.

Thursday meant everything to Ohio State and Indiana. The two teams were playing in a virtual bubble elimination in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament at the United Center in Chicago. ESPN’s Joe Lunardi placed the Hoosiers as his “First Team Out” and the Buckeyes as his “Last Team In” entering the afternoon.

Indiana couldn’t build off recent momentum, dropping a 79-75 decision due to sub-40 percent shooting. NBA Draft Lottery hopeful Romeo Langford mustered just 9 points, leaving in the second half for a few minutes with a bad back.

Trailing by 20 in the second half, the Hoosiers drew within a possession in the final minutes before bowing out. Let’s take a look at the latest at Indiana’s bracketology outlook, along with its resume and a few key wins and losses that stand out.

Indiana NCAA Tournament Resume

The Hoosiers carry one of the more schizophrenic resumes in college basketball. They bolted out to an 11-2 start in the non-conference, including a 23-point blowout over No. 29 Marquette and a close win over No. 21 Louisville (rankings based on the NET).

Road losses at Arkansas, and especially at Duke, are understandable.

The problems came immediately once Big Ten play resumed in January, as the Hoosiers dropped 7 out of 8. Defeats to bottom-dwellers in Northwestern and Rutgers are incredibly ugly blemishes.

Strangely enough, Indiana broke the lull with an overtime upset on the road at conference champion Michigan State. Even stranger, that supposed breakthrough was followed by 5 more losses in a row.

With their backs against the wall at 13-14, the Hoosiers finished the regular season with 4 straight wins, including nipping No. 15 Wisconsin in overtime and completing the sweep over the Spartans.

In short, a normal resume with victories over 5 current top-30 teams would be an easy sell. The problem is the glut of conference losses.

Indiana Bracketology Breakdown

Heading into the weekend, ESPN’s John Gasaway stated that the “no one knows” how the selection committee will view Indiana.

As for IU’s 6-9 record in Quad 1 games, perhaps the main point to be made there is that Indiana has played a ton of Quad 1 games. What’s less frequently cited, however, is the Hoosiers’ 2-5 record in Quad 2 games. Will that data point play a significant role in the committee’s discussion? No one knows, and, anyway, this profile isn’t finished yet. IU is currently a “first four out” kind of team, but the Big Ten tournament looms as a veritable Quad 1 outlet mall. If Indiana plays the Spartans, Michigan, Purdue, Wisconsin, Maryland, Iowa or Penn State at the United Center, it will be a Quad 1 opportunity.

As mentioned earlier, ESPN’s Joe Lunardi had Indiana on the outside looking in entering Thursday afternoon.

Jerry Palm of CBS Sports was slightly less optimistic, placing the Hoosiers as his third team out. He did mention in his own Bubble Watch that the Buckeyes could still get in with a loss.

The Hoosiers are also a bubble team solely because of the NET. A loss today renders that moot. I believe IU has to win twice to have a chance to hear its name on Selection Sunday.

Bracket Matrix aggregates 100 prognostications from across the internet. Indiana appears on 54 of them, appearing on the “First Team Out.” The ones that include the Hoosiers give either an 11 or 12-seed.

With the top-2 bracketologists spelling doom for Indiana heading into the week, coming up empty today probably tells you everything you need to know. The sentiment is negative now, and will grow if the remaining at-large bids are gobbled up by surprise automatic ones.