Indiana Basketball: Can the Hoosiers still make the NCAA Tournament?

BLOOMINGTON, IN - JANUARY 28: Robert Johnson
BLOOMINGTON, IN - JANUARY 28: Robert Johnson /

A four game win streak has the Hoosiers thinking of an NCAA Tournament bid, but is it too late?

Coming into this season, not much was expected of the Indiana Hoosiers. Whether fans like it or not, the main goal for this season was to build a foundation for Archie Miller going forward. Taking over already here players, and incoming recruits for a new coach is never an easy task. But for someone aptly dubbed, “the other Miller brother”, Archie has made quite the improvement over the season. Currently on a four-game win streak in the Big Ten conference the Hoosiers have an outside shot at making the NCAA Tournament, but is too late?

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Sitting at 16-12, making the NCAA Tournament is not out of the question for the Hoosiers. With the final two games this week, including Tuesday night’s matchup with Nebraska serving as a warmup for Friday night’s contest against Ohio State. Finishing the season at 18-12 is still not off the table for Indiana.

Just a week away from the Big Ten Tournament, Indiana could head into the biggest week on the hottest streak in the conference. The lowest seed they could possibly be in the tournament is a 7 seed, and the highest they could receive is a 5 seed.

Two different paths

No matter what seed the Hoosiers receive for next weeks tournament, fans will be hoping they win out and get the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. However, if they don’t, where they start in the bracket will determine how far they get.

In all likelihood, Indiana will get the 7 seed in the tournament barring any unforeseen circumstances surrounding Nebraska and Penn State. Starting in the 7 seed will have them facing the 10th best team in the Big Ten, which can either be Wisconsin or Northwestern. If the Hoosiers face the Wildcats in the second round, they will likely move on to the next round. In the third round, Indiana would take on their most formidable opponent yet in Michigan State. Despite the Spartans being the much better team, Indiana still has a chance to take down the behemoth should Robert Johnson catch on fire from beyond the arc, just as he did on Saturday against Iowa when he made nine 3-pointers.

Why the conference tournament matters

With losses against IPFW, and Indiana State, where the Hoosiers finish in the Big Ten tournament could determine whether they make the March Madness event. Typically, the selection committee does not put in a team when they have two losses to teams like the Hoosiers have. However, not many of those teams play in the Big Ten tournament with a chance to make up for those unforgivable losses.

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Say Indiana makes the Semi-Finals of the Big Ten Conference Tournament, all while beating Michigan State, and narrowly losing to Purdue, would the committee be able to leave them out? It’s hard to fathom that they would do such a thing, but for now, we have to hope the Hoosiers win the final two games of the regular season.