The Indiana basketball team dropped out the most recent ESPN preseason top 25 poll. They were replaced by a familiar foe.
ESPN released is newest preseason basketball top 25 last week and it had the Hoosiers dropping out of the top 25. In their original one, this offseason the Hoosiers were also not ranked. But then in their second version, after Khristian Lander reclassified to the 2020 class, the Hoosier jumped up to number 23.
The team that replaced them? The Arkansas Razorbacks. The Hoosiers should be very familiar with the Razorbacks as they have played them three times in the last two seasons. They have lost both their regular-season games in heartbreak fashion but beat them in the NIT in 2019.
If that wasn’t enough for the Hoosiers to know their name, Justin Smith just transferred from Indiana to Arkansas. According to ESPN, that was all it took for the two teams to essentially switch spots. This is what Jeff Borzello had to say about the two teams in the article:
The final spot in this month’s rankings comes down to Arkansas and Indiana, and Justin Smith‘s decision to transfer from the Hoosiers to the Razorbacks settles the debate. Although Smith’s departure from Indiana could make it easier for IU coach Archie Miller to slot five-star freshman Khristian Lander into the starting lineup, someone needs to replace Smith’s production up front. Could that player be Race Thompson? As for Arkansas, Smith fills a need in the frontcourt. Eric Musselman‘s team is loaded on the perimeter, with options across the board, but it lacked depth and high-major experience up front. Smith solves that, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him slot into the starting lineup right away. The Razorbacks will be able to go at least nine or 10 deep if they want, though Musselman has generally preferred shorter rotations.
Again preseason rankings mean very little if nothing at all, but it is a great way to motivate a team. Not that the Hoosiers wish any ill will towards Smith, but Borzello basically tells Indiana that Smith could be the missing piece and they aren’t as good without him.
Yes, Smith was a good player for the Hoosiers, but many believe they have guys to step up and fill his spot and not miss a beat. But apparently not everybody thinks so and Smith is the reason why Arkansas is now better than the Hoosiers.
Unfortunately, these two teams aren’t scheduled to play during the 2020-21 season as that could be a very fun game to watch. Instead, they will have to show who is better against different opponents but it should be very interesting to see which team is better because fo the way they are now linked coming into the season.
The Hoosiers are still very close to being in the top 25 and have the talent to be a mainstay this year. They will get the chance to prove themselves early when they head to Hawaii for the Maui Jim Maui Invitational. This season is shaping up to be a fun one in Bloomington.