Indiana Basketball: Team Must Win Sunday to Secure No. 1 in Midwest Regional

By Eric Smith
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

It should have never come down to this game for the Indiana Hoosiers, but they face a must-win scenario Sunday for their final game of the regular season against the Michigan Wolverines. You can rest assured the Wolverines are going to give the Hoosiers a run for their money and try to bounce them off the top seed on the Midwest Regional and earn a share of the Big Ten title.

The Hoosiers already clinched at least a share of the Big Ten regular season title, but if they lose and Ohio State and Michigan State each win then it’s a four-way tie for the title. That’s not what the Hoosiers had in mind.

Even worse, with a loss the Hoosiers are no longer in a good spot to earn the top seed in the Midwest Regional for the NCAA Tournament either.

Louisville, Kansas and Georgetown are now in the mix for that spot as will the other three Big Ten teams that are sharing the conference crown with them.

This could be detrimental for the Hoosiers to lose that seeding both for momentum and monetarily. If Indiana can play in Lucas Oil Stadium for the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight, downtown Indianapoils will be the place to be. I’d expect record crowds in the capital city of Indiana as the beloved Hoosiers could be playing right in their backyard for a chance at going to a Final Four.

Memorabilia and merchandise sales would soar to a whole new level as will downtown Indianapolis’ nightlife and restaurants. If Indiana isn’t seeded there then it will be a ghost town that weekend.

Nothing against any of the schools mentioned, but they couldn’t get LOS even halfway filled. LOS is a huge football built stadium and if that place isn’t filled it will seem very quiet in there. Whereas if Indiana is there it will be sold out to the rafters and be as raucous as we’ve seen for a regional.

Tickets on the secondary market have already doubled in price with the anticipation of Indiana playing there. Again, if the Hoosiers aren’t playing in Indy you wouldn’t be able to give those tickets away.

The NCAA’s headquarters are located in the shadows of LOS and you can bet they know the impact of having Indiana playing in Indianapolis would have on not just the city but the NCAA as well. They don’t want a half filled boring atmosphere when they could get the stadium sold out and the place to be.

They’re going to do the best they can to help Indiana if they can stay on the 1-seed line, but if the Hoosiers lose on Sunday that may all go up in smoke. The Big Ten Tournament is going to be very tough to win and it wouldn’t be wise to lose and put yourself in a situation where you have to win the tournament to get a chance to get the top seed in Indianapolis.

Why not just win Sunday and make it easy?

Like senior night in Assembly Hall on Tuesday, there’s way too much riding on this game. There’s the outright Big Ten title, winning at Michigan and securing a top seed in the Midwest Regional. A loss ruins all three and puts Indiana in a tough place losing three of their last four games going into the postseason tournaments.

Indiana is better in every aspect of the game than Michigan. If they give 100-percent effort they will win. It’s inexcusable to lose this game. The Hoosiers won’t win the national championship if they can’t win on Sunday.

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