The talking heads nationwide continue to clamor how college basketball is void of an elite team. Really? Have they studied what Tom Crean’s Hoosiers have done this season?
IU is a lock to make the Final Four and you can take that to the bank.
The Hoosiers (24-3 overall, 12-2 in the Big Ten) will win the regular-season Big Ten championship, the Big Ten Tournament in Chicago, be one of the No. 1 seeds in the NCAA tournament and be playing in Atlanta, the site of the Final Four, in April.
If there’s anyone out there doubting that, consider this: IU will play its first two games in the big dance in either Auburn Hills, Mich., or Lexington, Ky., and then advance to the Midwest Regional, which will take place at Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium, which is a mere 55 miles from the Bloomington campus.
There will be thousands of Cream and Crimson clad fans on hand to see their beloved Hoosiers play in the second and third round sites, and especially in the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight where you can expect them to turn the Indianapolis Colts‘ home venue into Assembly Hall north, making life extremely difficult for anyone they play.
The Hoosiers are red hot right now. Fresh off a four-point win in Michigan State’s Breslin Center, one of the toughest environments on opposing teams in all of college basketball, IU has won nine of its last 10 games in by far the best conference in the land.
IU not only has all the ingredients to make the Final Four, but it should be the overwhelming favorite to win its first NCAA championship since 1987 and sixth overall.
The Hoosiers don’t have just one national player of the year candidate, they’ve got two in Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo, who is the most athletic player the college game has to offer.
Oladipo drew rave reviews after the Michigan State game from Tom Izzo and Spartan and NBA great Magic Johnson, who joined ESPN’s broadcast team to call the game.
“To me, he’s a combination of (Michael) Jordan and Dwyane Wade,” said Hall of Famer Johnson of Oladipo during the broadcast. “If he comes out (of college early), this guy will be one of the top five players in the NBA (Draft).”
Yes, both Zeller and Oladipo days are numbered at IU as after this season they’ll head to the NBA and will be lottery picks come June.
Don’t think Indiana has just Zeller and Oladipo though. The Hoosiers have plenty more weapons.
At 6-foot-9, forward Christian Watford is a nightmare matchup for teams. He can burn you from the outside and can just as easily get the job done inside on the blocks.
Jordan Hulls is an amazing long-range shooter, the kind you would expect the state of Indiana to produce. He can easily drain triples from NBA distance. Give him just a sliver of daylight and you might as well put the three points on the board.
True freshman Yogi Ferrell is the quintessential point guard. He’ll knock down the occasional outside shot and can really get after it defensively.
Will Sheehey is the best sixth man in the country, who has improved his game immeasurably and on Saturday against Purdue set a school record by making all nine of his shots from the field.
Those six players make up the most complete team in college basketball.
It’s an Indiana that’s deadly in transition, scores as well as anyone (second in the nation averaging 82.5 points per game), kills you at the free throw line (No. 1 in the Big Ten, 74.5 percent) and is greatly improved on the defensive end where they’re leading the Big Ten in field goal percentage defense, limiting opponents to just 38.3 percent shooting per game.
Do the Hoosiers have a weakness? No, and that’s why I see them cutting down the nets on more than one occasion in March and April.
Doug Griffiths is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the US Basketball Writers Association. Doug is a columnist/writer for RantSports. Follow him on Twitter @ISLgriffiths and Facebook.