Indiana Basketball: Expectations vs Reality for the 2015-2016 Indiana Hoosiers


At the moment, Indiana basketball is one of the country’s hottest teams–winners of 12 in a row including a non-conference win over in-state rival Notre Dame and seven conference games. Indiana isn’t just winning, it is blowing teams out. Outside of a bad performance in its first game without James Blackmon Jr. in a win over Rutgers, the Hoosiers have won most of its games in a convincing fashion. Other than the nail biter against Wisconsin, every single game in the Big Ten has been seemingly controlled by the Hoosiers. I know the Minnesota game started roughly, but even down nine in the first half I had no doubt in my mind the Hoosiers would start hitting their shots and make a run to win the game. Indiana is playing arguably its best basketball since the 2013 Big Ten regular season championship team. Obviously it’s hard to compare the two since it’s only seven games into the Big Ten slate, but winning conference games isn’t easy regardless of the opponent and Indiana is making it look easy.

Now that I’m done with the initial praise for this team its now time for a bit of realism:

Indiana will not likely win a national championship this season.

I know this comes off as negative, but hear me out. As a fan of a college basketball team with a fan base as passionate as Indiana it seems as if every time the team has a great stretch the expectations are multiplied by approximately a million. Yes the 2013 team was great and had the talent to win it all and didn’t, get over it. Last year’s team–after a hot start–had fans hoping for a deep run in March, but then other teams started to adjust to Indiana’s small ball approach IU and was bounced by Wichita State in the Round of 64.

Expectations are always extremely hard to live up to in sports, but the sport where expectations are almost never met is college basketball. The explanation is quite simple: basic statistics. Last year’s Kentucky team had about a 41 percent chance of winning it all according to fivethirtyeight’s pre tournament predictions. As much as it pains me to admit that Kentucky team was probably the best college basketball teams in my lifetime and one of the best teams ever. I’d also like to mention that Kentucky was a statistical outlier last season the other three one seeds in last years tourney had around a ten percent chance of winning it all, which is around where it should be for a top seed. Ten percent going in is about as good as it can get, anywhere below that the percentage chance of winning decreases. The point I’m trying to make is no matter how good the team is in the regular season the odds are still drastically not in your favor.

It’s almost best to look at the NCAA tournament as a lottery. If you win, go crazy and act as if you are on top of the world. If you don’t win it all, you only paid a few bucks for a ticket so move on and buy a ticket next year.

It is very easy to get over excited and start crowning a team as a national title contender after a hot month like the Hoosiers are in the middle of now. That is the biggest mistake one can do when analyzing college basketball and it’s a mistake that Indiana fans and others alike make all too often. No one cares that Indiana won titles before the World Wide Web. I’m not saying no one cares about the rich history and tradition that is IU basketball, but rather it means nothing for this year’s team and how it makes its mark.

Whether you are going to every game, watching it on TV, or listening to it on the radio act as if each game is a gift. If the Hoosiers win, applaud them and enjoy each victory as you please. If they lose applaud them anyways and hope the team makes adjustments on what they did wrong. Getting all riled up over a loss in the early winter or against a good team in March will do nothing but turn basketball into a matter of life or death as opposed to what it truly is: a game played by a bunch of teenagers and college students in their early 20’s.

This team has overcome adversity already this season. Most of Hoosier Nation quit on the team after its dreadful Maui trip and the bloodbath in Cameron Indoor Stadium. Since then this team has adjusted–getting better on the defensive end while maintaining one of the nations best offenses. Amazing games, miserable games, and forgettable games against conference bottom-feeders are always a part of the journey that is a college basketball season. In the end it’s part of the experience of being a fan and win or lose should never be taken for granted.

Appreciate the fact that this is a special group.

Embrace watching every second that Yogi Ferrell is on the court because national championship or not, he is an all-time Hoosier great whose four seasons here will likely never be matched by a player wearing cream and crimson.

Enjoy every game this season because it may be a roller coaster ride that ends in Houston, it could be another disappointing early tournament exit if the team makes the tournament, or it could be somewhere in between.

Either way the Hoosiers will go to work and practice their tails off to prepare for each game so why not appreciate what these athletes are doing for this university. Accept the fact that Bobby Knight isn’t walking out of the tunnel at Assembly Hall ever again and it is unlikely that another era like his time at IU will ever occur again.

Be thankful for the 2015-2016 Indiana Hoosiers men’s basketball team and what they are because whatever happened before these guys made Bloomington home has no impact on where they are going to end up this season. When it all ends, reflect on the season as you please and look forward to the next season, get ready to do it all again and get behind next years squad.