IU Insider Blog: March not quite so Mad

This is supposed to be the greatest weekend of the year for college basketball fans. And for many it is. But with Indiana on the outside looking in for the fourth time and six years, it makes the Madness just a little less Mad.

There should be a support group that meets this weekend for Indiana basketball fans.

Sorry, but March is simply a little less Mad when the Hoosiers aren't involved.

The sad part is that this is the fourth time in the last six seasons that Indiana has been on the outside looking in for postseason play.

The first three were understandable. Tom Crean took over a program that was a shell of its former self following the Kelvin Sampson mess.

It took four years to bring the program back to national prominence. And back-to-back Sweet Sixteen efforts did just that including garnering a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament a year ago.

But to go from that lofty perch to no postseason at all this year has been a little disheartening.

Sunday was a difficult exercise in and of itself. Whenever you watch the Selection Show without a dog in the fight it just isn't quite the same. There's no sense of anticipation. In fact, I found myself looking at my watch a lot and wondering when the NIT Selection Show was going to begin.

And we all know how that turned out.

Sunday nights have often been a wild night for myself as a journalist as you are working hard to get a story or two written about IU's NCAA hopes and/or upcoming opponents and then frantically trying to make flight and hotel reservations for the week.

Obviously, there was none of that Sunday.

Thursday was also a different kind of feel. I watched the early Big Ten games with interest and of course thought to myself that this Wisconsin team that just won its first round game by 40 points was a team that the Hoosiers had beaten in February.

Did I watch Harvard-Cincinnati, a game that in any other month would have replaced in my viewing order by Alaska: The Great Frontier? Of course I did. It's March. That's what you do. But again it was hard to really enjoy it. Sure, we all have our brackets going and there's that fascination but beyond that it's simply a different feel without an IU game to look forward to.

The big question for Hoosier fans is whether or not this March Sadness experience is temporary or something IU will endure next year, too. The 2014-15 season will be a big one for IU basketball because the Hoosiers absolutely have to find a way to be back in the postseason, preferably in the Big Dance.

IU still has some pieces to put in place but it's certainly well within possibilities that Indiana will be back.

One March like this once in a while is one thing, but Indiana simply cannot allow itself to make this a habit.

Follow Terry Hutchens at Twitter.com/Foxsportshutch

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