Most of the Hoosier faithful were down in the dumps after last night’s upset loss to the Minnesota Golden Gophers in Williams Arena. Fast forward 24 hours later and every Indiana Hoosier fan is jumping for joy as the goal of hoisting the Big Ten Championship trophy is much clearer.
The biggest threat to sharing the conference title with the Hoosiers were the Michigan Wolverines, but their monumental upset at the hands of the Penn State Nittany Lions just shy of 24 hours after the loss last night gives Indiana the easiest road to claiming their first outright Big Ten regular season title in 20 years.
The Hoosiers are currently 12-3 in conference play while Michigan State and Wisconsin are 11-4. Michigan is fourth at 10-5. All the Hoosiers have to do now is win both home games coming up against Iowa and Ohio State and they will win walk away with the outright crown before they even play in Ann Arbor next Sunday.
What helps the Hoosiers is all three of those teams play each other. Michigan State plays at Michigan on Sunday, then hosts Wisconsin next week. Someone has to lose those games as that will eliminate those three. Indiana now holds the tiebreaker over Michigan and Michigan State and if the Spartans help Indiana out and win both of those games, the Hoosiers get the outright trophy.
Michigan State was swept to Indiana, so tying them has no merit as Indiana gets the No. 1 seed in the Big 10 Tournament.
Another way this affects the Hoosiers is they can clinch the outright title at home on senior night against the Buckeyes next Tuesday. Imagine how special it would be for seniors Jordan Hulls, Derek Elston, Christian Watford and Maurice Creek to walk off their final game in Assembly Hall with the conference title.
These four took a chance on coming to IU after they had the worst season in the program’s storied history the year before. They didn’t have to come to that mess but they took the chance to be able to help rebuild this program to have a shot like Tuesday night.
The final way this affects Indiana is the Hoosiers now all but clinched the top seed in the Midwest Region. That’s huge because they can play in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis ,which will be Assembly Hall North, on the last weekend of March. That will be a huge advantage for the team and big for the fans to watch them possibly earn their first Final Four in a decade in their home state.
The NCAA puts the top seeds closest to home. The top seed in the Midwest Region is going to go to the Big Ten regular season champ now. They can’t award Michigan State the top seed there over Indiana when the Hoosiers swept them. They also won’t award it to Michigan, who gave a winless team their first conference win this late in the season.
Factor in the fact that Indiana also beat Michigan and they won’t leap frog them now.
This loss to Penn State by Michigan was huge for Indiana.