The sweating period is upon us.
It is now less than 48 hours until the NCAA Tournament Selection Sunday Show at 6 p.m. ET when everyone will find out if they’re in the Dance or playing in the NIT.
Some seem to think that Indiana had done enough to make the NCAA Tournament field. Others believe losing nine of the last 14 games will be IU’s undoing. The experts generally seem to agree that IU is among the final four teams still in the 2015 NCAA Tournament.
Some have IU projected to play in a play-in game in mid-week in Dayton, Ohio which will truly be a new experience for IU basketball. Joe Lunardi of ESPN, for example, has IU facing Ole Miss in a play-game with the winner advancing as a No. 11 seed to play No. 6 seed Butler.
Myself, I think Indiana has done enough but I’ll admit to perhaps being too close to the situation. My feeling going into the Big Ten Tournament was that Indiana had not looked like an NCAA Tournament team in recent weeks. But I thought that changed in Chicago. IU looked a lot more like that in beating Northwestern on Thursday and went toe-to-toe with the No. 8 ranked team in the nation, Maryland, Friday night before falling 75-69. It was a two-point game with 39 seconds to play.
And those who point to the fact that IU lost nine of its final 14 games, while I’ll admit that number sounds awful, the reality is that eight of those nine losses were to teams that will make the NCAA Tournament. And the lone exception was Northwestern, the team that IU was able to bounce back and beat on Thursday.
The problem with being on the NCAA Tournament bubble is that teams can rise up late and either secure the conference’s automatic bid in a conference that was expected to take another team, or a team that is considered one of the last four out could rise up and do enough at the end to prove it deserves to be in the field.
In order to even explore scenarios based on bracketology, you have to assume for a moment that the bracketologists have it right. Let’s see what the bracket by Joe Lunardi and the one by CBSSports.com’s Jerry Palm have regarding IU’s chances.
Lunardi has IU as one of four 11 seeds and in the final four teams in the 2015 NCAA Tournament bracket. The other three in his ‘four final in’ are Texas, Temple and Ole Miss. All are slated to play in play-in games. Texas would not be a good matchup for IU because of its size but Temple would be interesting because when IU was last in the NCAA Tournament in faced Temple in Dayton, Ohio on the first weekend. The win over Temple advanced IU to play Syracuse.
Of that group only Tulsa still plays and as the No. 2 seed faces No. 5 Connecticut on Saturday. Obviously, Indiana fans should root for Connecticut in that game. Tulsa and Connecticut split the season series but UConn won the most recent game by 25 points on Feb. 12, 70-45.
But that will be a bracket watch game for sure.
Another bracket watch game could be the Mountain West final between San Diego State and Wyoming. Wyoming upset Boise State on Friday in the semifinals. Lunardi has three Mountain West teams in the field: San Diego State, Colorado State and Boise State. If Wyoming wins, it would get the automatic berth. Would that mean the Mountain West would get four teams or would a team like Boise State be out?
In Palm’s bracket he actually has Indiana in as a No. 11 seed and not in the final four teams in which is another reason I could see the Hoosiers having had done enough. Palm has the final four teams in as Colorado State, Ole Miss, BYU and Texas. He has the first four out as Temple, Miami, Texas A&M and UCLA.
He has Indiana, as a No. 11 seed facing No. 6 San Diego State.
The one thing that Friday’s loss to Maryland did was make Sunday’s NCAA Selection even more ‘must watch television than ever before. Keep an eye every time the 11-seed line comes up because that’s likely where the Hoosiers would fall. I suppose you could look at the 10 or 11 lines but my guess is that 11 would be about right.
The tournament sweating time is clearly upon us.