While all of that is all well and good, today I want to a very problematic development that has come to light in the last few weeks. The state of Indiana could go unrepresented in the NCAA men's tournament. The state of Indiana is considered one of the great basketball hubs in the country. The fans in the state all love their teams, from the high school all the way up to the professional levels. The state of Indiana is almost always represented annual NCAA men's (D-I) tourney, but this year may be the exception to that rule. Lets look at the teams and who could possibly turn it around enough to squeak in at the end.
The teams that never had a shot:
No offense to these schools as they are all good schools, but these schools are not typically basketball powerhouses and were really not expected to threaten for a trip to the NCAA tourney.
Ball State (4 -19; 1-11): Need to win the conference tourney at this point
Evansville (11 - 16; 4-10): Need to win conference tourney... and that would include beating Wichita State
IUPUI (6-22; 1-10) Need to win the conference tourney
The long shots:
These are the teams that have a better shot, but still need several things to go right for them to get in.
IPFW (19-9; 7-4) Need to win the conference tourney, but in the summit league, that is basically the only way you get to the tourney. Sitting as the 3 seed means they could make a run in the conference tourney, but they are not a favorite going in.
Butler (12-13; 2-11) The good news is that the Bulldogs have been in a lot of close games. The bad news is that they haven't won many of those games. 3 conference OT losses to go with 1 nonconference OT loss, plus another 4 single digit losses explain a good portion of Butlers season. They need to win out and/or win the conference tourney at this point, but they have hung with the best teams in the country and their conference all year, with their blow out losses coming to unranked opponents, so they can play with the big boys, but can they sustain that over a several day period?
Notre Dame (14-12; 5-8) Good News: Their last 5 games have only 1 ranked opponent left. Bad News: They only have one win vs. a ranked team and with only 14 wins, they need to win out or have a very good conference tourney to push them over the edge because their RPI isn't that strong (104th in the nation).
Indiana (14-11; 4-8) Good news: They have 2 marquee wins. Bad News: Everything else. To make the NCAA tourney you almost have to have 19-20 wins, which means the Hoosiers really need to get 5 wins between their remaining conference games and the conference tourney. They have 4 ranked opponents left to play and 4 of their last 6 are on the road where the Hoosiers have exactly 1 win all year. Their RPI is low, and they are coming off an embarrassing loss up at Purdue, and they have lost to Nebraska and Penn State this year. IU's best hope is to win 4-5 of their remaining conference games and get a win or 2 in the conference tourney.
Purdue (15-10; 5-7) Good News: they have one more win than IU. The Bad News: No marquee wins, low RPI, all the teams left on their schedule may be headed to the NCAA tourney. The Boilers have been a mixed bag this year. They have had moments where they have been very good (re: IU game), but they have been bad at times this year. If Purdue makes the NCAA tourney, it will be because they get hot right now and win at least 3 of their remaining games (at least 2 vs. ranked teams) and put together a couple NCAA tourney wins.
Indiana State (20-6; 11-3) The Sycamores have the best shot out of anybody to make the NCAA tourney. The 20 wins they have amassed are a good number. They only have 1 ranked win (Notre Dame), but they have the best RPI of anybody in the state (a little sad that they have far better RPI's in a mid major conference than the schools in the big conferences... just saying). All of the remaining games should be winnable for ISU, but this conference has been a 2 horse race all year with them and Wichita state. The biggest Issue for the sycamores is that they are probably going to have to Shock the Shockers to have a real shot at the tourney. The selection committee doesn't typically bend over backward to get a team in from the Missouri Valley conference and the latest Bracketology from ESPN tells the same story with ISU not even in the Next 4 out.
Teams that should make it:
IU, Purdue, and Notre Dame women's teams
All hope is not lost, but the Indiana schools are going to have to get their act together if they want to be represented in the big dance. If not, the NIT will be a landing point for many of these schools.
Thanks for reading,
-T.O. signing out.