Indiana’s NCAA Tournament Reality … As It Stands Right Now

Tom Crean and all of Hoosier Nation will be sweating out a stressful Selection Sunday today. (Image credit: Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports)
Tom Crean and all of Hoosier Nation will be sweating out a stressful Selection Sunday today. It didn’t have to be this way. It shouldn’t be this way. (Image credit: Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports)

And here we are …

Sweating out Selection Sunday.

It’s a better place than we were in last year, but it’s a place that Indiana should rarely, if ever, find itself in — not with our recruiting base, resources, and tradition.

Sure, there will be that rare season that just goes awry, but such a season should be the most anomalous of seasons (once every 10 or 15 years or so, or less), not the fifth in seven.

I mean, what are we? Some middling major conference program that has to bow down at the altar of the Selection Committee after an up-and-down season with little more than a humble hope that they bless us with the grace of a reputation-salvaging at-large bid?

Well yes, based on the last two year’s of results, that’s exactly what we are right now.

Which we never would have expected on this day two years ago.

My disappointment with this reality, and your disappointment with this reality, is absolutely warranted. We do a disservice to the great tradition of Indiana basketball if we are NOT disappointed to be in this position.

Which is why the coming postmortems will be serious and in-depth once this season has finally breathed its last breath.

But for now …

Blood still circulates through the veins of the 2014-15 Hoosiers.

And based on how Indiana played for most of their 80 minutes in Chicago, that circulation may be powered by a collective heart that beats with more strength and resolve than we thought after the three-game abomination that ended the season.

Which is why I continue to ward off all thoughts of what we should do this offseason, and what next season may hold. Instead, I’m focusing all of my fan energy on the right here and the right now.

I’m hoping that the Selection Committee blesses this team with at least one more game on the big stage so these Hoosiers have another chance to show us what they’re made of.

Because, despite it all, I still think that if we get one game then we’re going to get at least one more.

I can’t shake the feeling that there remains real life left in these Hoosiers. I can’t shake the feeling I’ve had all year that this team would create a positive memory or two come March.

I just wish we hadn’t left our season’s death certificate in someone else’s hands.

But when you schedule six sub-200 teams in the non-conference, and when you lose four home games, and when you drop eight of 12 to end the regular season … you relinquish control of your Tournament future.

Which is why IF we do not hear our name called today, I’ll be upset — but not at the Selection Committee.

The Hoosiers put themselves in this position and will have no one else to blame if a second straight March is spent on the outside looking in.

Hopefully that proves to not be the case.

I remain confident …

I still think we will make the field. Bracket Matrix had us in as of 10:00 a.m. this morning. Crashing the Dance had us in. Galen Clavio has us in.

As for Andy Bottoms? As of 12:15 p.m. Eastern Time, he still has IU in the field — playing Ole Miss in the play-in game.

(Andy’s complete bracket is coming soon and will be available here when ready.)

I know that Joe Lunardi’s voice booms louder than all others this time of year — the ESPN megaphone will do that. But his voice is just one, and he isn’t as historically trustworthy on these matters as the others I’ve just mentioned.

And as Lunardi said this morning on SportsCenter: “Am I going to miss on Indiana? Probably.”

My point: choose your bracketology sources carefully. It will make today a little easier. :-)

One thing that is undeniable: a UCONN victory over SMU today would be bad. It would remove one of the at-large spots that Indiana is currently competing for.

So … go Mustangs, I guess. In Larry Brown we trust, I suppose.

Such are the thoughts we must cling to during a Sunday spent bouncing on the bubble.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go change shirts. I just sweated through this one.

It’s gonna be that kind of day.

*****

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