Posted March 06, 2013

Indiana Lets A Moment Slip Away … And Maybe Much More

Big Ten Tournament
Aaron Craft willed Ohio State to an upset over Indiana on Wednesday. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Aaron Craft willed Ohio State to an upset over Indiana on Tuesday night. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

The table was set for a coronation. Senior night in Bloomington. A chance for Indiana to claim its first outright Big Ten regular-season title in two decades. A worthy but lesser foe in the building. One hand on the path through Indianapolis for the NCAAs. It was preordained. It was perfect.

It was premature.

Ohio State, which had done nothing of consequence on the road all season, came up with a superior road effort that could have major consequences everywhere, disjointing the Hoosiers for most of the 40 minutes of a 67-58 upset. The win keeps the Buckeyes alive for a share of the league title, along with just about everyone else in the top half of the league.

If there are no upsets in games not matching two of the title aspirants, we could be staring down the barrel of a four-way tie for the league title. Michigan controls its own fate, as the Wolverines host the Hoosiers in the season finale. If the Wolverines win that game, it also opens the door for Ohio State (if they beat Illinois at home) and the winner of Thursday’s Michigan State-Wisconsin game to also claim a share of the crown. There are numerous tiebreaker scenarios that will be sifted through as results come in later this week, but Indiana is no lock to be the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten tournament now, and that could mean a stiffer test in the quarterfinal round.

Speaking of No. 1 seeds, the Hoosiers should still be on the top line of bracket projections Wednesday, but they made a careless misstep in their quest to land the Midwest regional, where they’d have a massive crowd advantage. If Indiana gets boxed out of the Midwest No. 1 seed, chances are they won’t end up in that regional. They would have to be the top seed from the Big Ten as a No. 2, or have another Big Ten team get squeezed into the South or West and then land there as a No. 2.

Ohio State deserves significant credit for an excellent road performance, as Aaron Craft willed them to enough baskets down the stretch, but the victory also underscores (if we haven’t been beaten over the head enough yet) that there is no favorite this March. Humans tend to like ordering, to be able to make sense of groups of items or data, but that doesn’t seem to be in the cards for us this season.

As a result, there’s no sense of whether the NCAAs will be wholly unpredictable, or whether the first weekend will hold close to form and then the wildness will unfold after that when the stakes are higher. That’s when every edge will matter to help differentiate a bunch of very good but flawed teams trying to get to Atlanta. That’s when Indiana may end up regretting tonight.

10 comments
Rusty1
Rusty1

The big 10 is so over rated.  When they start play real competition in non-conference play they can brag.

user1user2user3
user1user2user3

I'm an I.U. alumnus and I have to give TOSU credit. They played a lot tougher than Indiana and were mentally ready to play basketball. They controlled the tempo of the game and really out-played Indiana on the boards. Tom Crean needs to do a better job of coaching and get this team READY TO PLAY BASKETBALL ! This team has been up and down all year long on the mental-end of the basketball court !

joelhunn
joelhunn

"the Hoosiers should still be on the top line of bracket projections"  Of course they should!  They should be a number 1 seed no matter what, win or lose!  They simply ARE a number one seed - Cause that's your story, and you're sticking to it...

David102
David102

@joelhunn Co-signed! SI has been hyping Indiana all year. After the IU win over MSU in Bloomington, the writer was rhapsodizing over them as a "true" #1, but I said Indiana would lose at least twice more when the schedule swung toward road games. Now it's 3 losses. The Hoosiers are very good, but not great. They may have an easier time in the NCAA tournament than in the conference tourney.

96harleyglide
96harleyglide

Massive crowd advantage? I'm from Indiana and most people from Indiana don't like IU.

JoshNash
JoshNash

@96harleyglide where are you from?  West Lafayette?  South Bend?  there a definitely more IU fans in Indiana than for any other college team

JohnJohn
JohnJohn

@JoshNash @96harleyglide -- ND definitely has the most, with that being said, the statement is still way off. Tons of IUBB fans in this state.