Bubble Watch: 5 Reasons Why Indiana State Basketball Won’t Make the Big Dance
Indiana State Sycamores Will Miss NCAA Tournament: 5 Reasons Why
In any other Missouri Valley Conference basketball season over the last 10 years or so, a team like the Indiana State Sycamores would be a lock to make the NCAA tournament, even as an at-large team. Indiana State's record is visually impressive at 21-7 overall and 12-4 in the conference. Most seasons, Valley teams who have put up those kind of marks have been invited to the Big Dance.
Unfortunately for the Sycamores, they picked the wrong year to be good. Playing in a conference weakened by the departure of the Creighton Blue Jays and their All-American candidate Doug McDermott, the schedule Indiana State has faced in conference hasn't been the grueling path that most Valley teams have had to navigate in prior seasons. Creighton was replaced by Loyola-Chicago, a school that has been out in the wilderness for many years now with regard to the NCAA tournament.
Which isn't to see the Sycamores haven't been good. They scored what many thought was going to be a notable win early in the season, getting a victory at state-rival Notre Dame. Indiana State beat a Belmont team that is now 21-8 and 12-2 in the Ohio Valley Conference, and it was a pretty decisive win, as the Sycamores were victorious by 12. But in terms of notable wins, that's just about it for Indiana State. Without multiple high-RPI teams in the Valley and with a non-conference schedule that was only so-so, it's hard to make the case for including Indiana State in the NCAA Tournament, despite the fact that the Sycamores are a good team with a very solid record.
Here are five reasons why Indiana State will miss the NCAA tournament.
Ed Morgans is an ACC Basketball Writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @writered21.
5. Indiana State Can't Rebound
If there's one statistic that points to part of the reason why Indiana State won't make the NCAA Tournament, it's that the Sycamores get destroyed on the boards almost every night. Indiana State is 270th in the country in rebounding, getting just 33 a game. Jake Odum leads the team at just 4.5 rebounds per game. When your leading rebounder gets just barely more than one board every 10 minutes, you are not an NCAA Tournament team.
4. Indiana State Doesn't Value the Basketball
Indiana State doesn't run its offense efficiently enough to make the NCAA Tournament. While the Sycamores are about in the middle of the pack nationally in scoring (71.8 PPG, 161st in Division I), there are too many possessions where Indiana State simply doesn't get shots. For the season, ISU's assist-to-turnover ratio is just 1.08, with an average of 13 assists and 12 turnovers per game. Given ISU's schedule, 12 turnovers is too much.
3. Indiana State's Schedule Was Weak
Compared to other teams from bigger conferences that are going to be making a case for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, Indiana State's schedule wasn't the greatest. Beyond the win over Belmont, the victory at Notre Dame doesn't stand out as much now due to the Fighting Irish's struggles in the ACC. And even the win over Belmont is bankrupted a little bit given that the Sycamores also lost by a point to the Bruins in the second game of the season. A 79-60 conference loss at Southern Illinois (12-17) hangs on the Sycamores like an albatross.
2. Indiana State Won't Win the MVC Tournament
Given that the at-large bid isn't likely for Indiana State, the Sycamores could still of course make the NCAA Tournament by winning the MVC Tournament (Arch Madness). But that seems highly unlikely. Indiana State will enter the MVC Tournament as the number-two seed, but even in the semifinal round, a likely matchup against third-seeded Missouri State could be an issue, since the Bears just beat the Sycamores 77-66 in Indiana State's most recent game. Nevermind a possible MVC title game matchup vs. Wichita State.
1. Two Losses to Wichita State
It's no shame to lose to Wichita State. After all, the Shockers (30-0, 17-0 MVC) have beaten all comers so far in a magical season. When the teams played at Indiana State, the Sycamores put up a good effort but lost 65-58. What really hurts Indiana State, however, is its loss at Wichita State. Thought of as the biggest threat to the Shockers in the Valley, the Sycamores were demolished 68-48. The margin really hurt the idea that Indiana State was a viable challenger in the conference, and as such, hurt their at-large bid perception. There's no reason to think if the teams meet for a third time in the MVC title game that the result will be any different.