Quality Over Quantity?

BLOOMINGTON, Ind.—With two regular season games remaining and at least one Big Ten tournament game guaranteed, the Hoosiers have few chances left to prove their case to the NCAA Selection Committee. The big win over AP No. 10 Michigan State on Sunday coupled with wins in five of their last seven games will help, but IU needs to take care of business against No. 23 Wisconsin at the Kohl Center and at home against Northwestern lock up a bid.

The Spartans are the highest ranked team the Hoosiers have beaten since they took down then-No. 8 Illinois in 2003, coincidentally the last time the Hoosiers made the NCAA Tournament. All-American candidate Bracey Wright scored a career-high 32 points, and leading Big Ten freshman of the year candidate D.J. White scored 17 in just 25 minutes as he was hampered by early foul trouble. The Hoosiers don't necessarily need to win at Wisconsin, although it would help immensely to get a quality road win, but the following game against Northwestern is definitely a must-win. The Hoosiers have shown steady improvement throughout the season, and the Committee tends to favor a team that finishes strong, but it's hard to imagine both IU and Minnesota making the Tournament.

The Hoosiers currently hold a ½ game edge over the Gophers in the Big Ten standings, but as IU is tied with Wisconsin, a win Tuesday night would change that. In fact, a win over UW would be helpful for both IU and Minnesota, because as things stand today, IU and Minnesota would face each other as the #4 and #5 seed respectively in the Big Ten Tournament, which would preclude them from meeting deep in the Big Ten Tournament. Minnesota closes out the regular season at Penn State and with a win will close out at 20-9 (10-6).

It's clear that the Hoosiers are playing their best basketball right now, as White has continued to play better and smarter, further enforcing the inside-outside threat with Wright. IU's other freshmen have grown up lately as well, as Vaden and Ratliff have both put up good numbers in the last few games, not to mention the energy they bring every time they step onto the court.

In all likelihood, if the Hoosiers make the Tournament they'll be in the East Regional as a 10 or 11 seed. The Hoosiers appear to be poised for a good Tournament run, but the Big Ten Tournament will be a better indicator of how the boys hold up. The Hoosiers are undefeated in Big Ten home games this year, a trend that will likely continue when Northwestern comes to town, but they've struggled on the road. The Committee tends to look down on a bad road team, which makes the game at Wisconsin that much more important.

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