I think the first time the sentiment really registered with me was on my drive Wednesday afternoon from Indianapolis to Omaha.
I was listening to talk radio somewhere west of Peoria on an AM station that that appeared on my dial and they were interviewing a beat writer from Wichita State talking about the Shockers and their NCAA Tournament hopes.
There was a lot of talk on his views on Wichita State of course and some about the familiarity of playing in Omaha.
And then there was a lot of talk of Wichita State’s (potential) game on Sunday against Kansas.
Indiana? Not a word. Not a single reference.
I was at a local eating establishment Thursday night and had a booth full of Wichita State fans next to me. When I’m by myself I tend to allow my ears to wander into conversations where I don’t belong. And for 40 minutes all I heard was back and forth banter that talked about how they matched up with Kansas and what the keys to the game with Kansas were going to be, and Kansas this and Kansas that.
Indiana? Not a single mention. Not one the entire time I was there.
In some ways I get it but in other ways I was just reminded again that this is not your father’s Indiana any more.
IU is a double digit seed in the NCAA Tournament which begins for the Hoosiers today in Omaha against Wichita State.
IU has never won a game in history as a double-digit seed in the NCAA Tournament.
But it has never lost one either.
This is the first time that Indiana has ever been a double-digit NCAA seed. And with that comes some different experiences.
Like not really being even a blip on the radar for many of the opposing teams’ fan base.
Now sure Gregg Marshall and his staff will do everything they need to do to have their team focused on Indiana today. I’m not suggesting that isn’t happening.
But it’s just interesting being the team that nobody is really thinking about.
It’s just odd when the team that you follow is in that situation. It’s odd when the team you follow that has a storied program and five banners hanging in the Hall finds itself being the team that no one is giving much thought to today.
So enter the world of NCAA Tournament underdogs for the Indiana Hoosiers. Indiana sits in the NCAA field today with very few expectations.
Most people expect the Hoosiers to lose today and for the season to come to an end. Very few of those that think IU has a shot at beating Wichita State today think Indiana could survive Kansas on Sunday and so a win today would be delaying the inevitable.
It’s a much different way of thinking than the last time IU was here in 2013 as a No. 1 seed. Then, you were thinking the sky was the limit and for some, even allowing your mind to wander and think about if IU had a chance to hang that elusive sixth banner.
Today, you’re hoping to win a single NCAA Tournament game.
My how times have changed.