Indiana (25-7) earned a No. 5 seed in the 2016 NCAA Tournament in the East Region. Judging by his reaction Sunday night, Indiana head coach Tom Crean didn't seem pleased with his team's reward for an outright Big Ten title.
"The only thing I'm really excited about was that I was smart enough to bring the Big Ten Championship trophy down into the team room," Crean said. "I'm glad it was down there because we needed a quick visual reminder that we were a Big Ten champion. So I'll leave that for other people to talk about."
Indiana's selection marks the first time since 2004 that the outright Big Ten champion received lower than a No. 3 seed in the tournament.
The Hoosiers will open the tournament against No. 12-seed Chattanooga (29-5) in Des Moines, Iowa on Thursday, March 17 at 7:10 p.m. EST on CBS.
"Historically, a lot of those 12 seeds are underrated and they pull out upsets," grad transfer forward Max Bielfeldt said. "But I think with the mindset wee've got all year, we've just got to be ready. When any team makes the tournament, you know they're good, especially a team with only five losses."
Indiana is making its 39th NCAA Tournament appearance in program history, which ranks first in the Big Ten and seventh all-time nationally. Should the Hoosiers win their opening game of the tournament, it could potentially set up a second-round matchup with Kentucky.
The Hoosiers entered Selection Sunday with quality wins over Creighton (48), Notre Dame (34), Wisconsin (32), Purdue (15), Iowa (19, 2x) and Maryland (25), but also had some tough losses against Wake Forest (130), UNLV (136), Penn State (137). The numbers in the parentheses indicate the KenPom ranking of each team.
Many bracketologists projected Indiana as a No. 4 seed heading into Selection Sunday, but a loss to bubble team Michigan may have affected the committee's final decision in the end.
Bielfeldt didn't have any specific reaction to the No. 5 seed beyond acknowledging the upsets, just a determined attitude on the road ahead.
"I mean, we know we're going to get put where we get put," Bielfeldt said. "You're going to have to play all the same teams to go where you want to go anyway. So whether you're 3, 4, 5, 10, 16 seed, doesn't matter to us, we're just going to try to beat whoever's in front of us."
For IU senior guard Yogi Ferrell, the 2016 NCAA Tournament will be the last of his college career. One of the reasons he returned to IU was to hang the program's sixth banner, a sentiment he shared via Twitter in late April 2015.
"My feelings are especially high, and I'm going to be playing as hard as I've ever played probably in these games right here," Ferrell said. "I know I play hard, but especially for this one because I feel like our team definitely deserves it and we've worked so hard... so emotions are very high."
While the potential second-round matchup with Kentucky is on the minds of plenty of fans, the players have their focus elsewhere. Ferrell said it won't be difficult not thinking about the possibility.
"We're going to prepare for Chattanooga just like Kentucky, and I feel like when we get to that game we'll be prepared for Kentucky," he said. "But right now all we're focused on is Chattanooga and just getting them down."
About the only other thing anyone from Indiana had to say about Kentucky came in regard to Wildcats head coach John Calipari's conversation on ESPN. Calipari shared a similar reaction to his team's seeding as well, saying on ESPN it's just a matter of simply playing the games.
"He's exactly right," Crean said, "so here we go."