Column: Can IU make a B1G Tourney run?

Even after losing to Michigan State Saturday, ESPN Bracketologist Joe Lunardi has IU as one of the last teams in the NCAA Tournament. But how much do the Hoosiers need to do in Chicago next week to feel comfortable on Selection Sunday?

There was a time, not that long ago, when Indiana basketball appeared to be a lock to qualify for the 2015 NCAA Tournament.

And depending on who you believe, they may still be in if they can win a game in the Big Ten Tournament.

The latest ESPN Bracketology report, that was posted after IU dropped a 74-72 decision to Michigan State on Saturday, still has IU in. It has the Hoosiers playing in a play-in game in Dayton as a No. 12 seed. It actually has IU playing Temple for the right to face Arkansas in the NCAA Tournament.

So it comes down to winning a basketball game (or maybe two).

IU had two chances to do that in the last week in the friendly confines of Assembly Hall where the Hoosiers rarely lose, and IU lost both games.

So now it comes down to winning on Thursday in the Big Ten Tournament in Chicago.

You would think a team that has lost eight of its final 12 games will have to win at least one game and maybe two to feel comfortable on Selection Sunday. But if the bracketology report is to be believed, it may only require that one victory to get in.

No, the late season slide or swoon or whatever word you wish to use has put the Hoosiers in a precarious position heading into postseason play.

So what happens next?

As of the writing of this column (and it will be updated) Indiana needs Purdue to beat Illinois later Saturday in order to remain the No. 7 seed in next week’s Big Ten Tournament. That would give the Hoosiers a first game on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. ET.

If Illinois found a way to win though, IU would slip to the 8 seed and play around Noon time on Thursday. The 8 seed would mean if it won the first game it would play Wisconsin on Friday.

A 7 seed would be more friendlier. IU would play at 5:30 p.m. ET and if it won it would play Maryland in the Friday game.

So Indiana fans get to do something they’re not always comfortable with this afternoon and that’s root for the Boilermakers.

Who would IU play? If IU was the 7 seed it would likely be Minnesota if the Golden Gophers get past Penn State on Sunday. Michigan has wrapped up the No. 9 seed after beating Rutgers on Saturday. So if IU slipped to the No. 8 seed it would face Michigan in on Thursday in the Big Ten Tournament.

The next big question is what do you expect from Indiana in the Big Ten Tournament? Will the Hoosiers be able to shake off their funk of late and regroup heading into the tournament? Or will the slide continue and IU gets knocked off quickly in Chicago?

There’s no way to possibly know that answer. It will all be about how motivated the Hoosiers are come the end of next week.

The only thing that is certain is that at 9-9 the Hoosiers are reeling and all talk of the NCAA Tournament is on hold for now. The bracketologists may still think IU is in, but until IU wins a Big Ten Tournament game or two, the Hoosier faithful will be sweating come Selection Sunday.


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