Over the last two months things have seemed to be going in a constant downward spiral for the Indiana Hoosiers and head coach Tom Crean. After losing 84-80 to the Michigan Wolverines on Saturday afternoon, the regular season ended on yet another low note, and the Hoosiers now have no chance of gaining an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.
The game against Michigan wasn’t all bad for Indiana, as they began the game on quite a roll thanks to shooting great, and even led at halftime by a scoreline of 42-36. Unfortunately they were doomed by an inability to keep up their hot shooting during the second half of the game, and ended up with a 84-80 loss.
Indiana now sits with a 17-14 record, which is an utter disappointment when one considers that they started off the season with a 10-3 record. They have lost games to underwhelming teams such as Northwestern, Purdue, Penn State and Illinois along the way. These four teams are below the Hoosiers in the Big 10 Conference, and the losses have played a large part in the team ranking 85th in the RPI rankings.
Their inability to contend since the schedule has gone to mainly Big 10 Conference games can in large part be attributed to having an extremely youthful squad, and one that took a long time to gel together. The Hoosiers have 13 different players on the roster who are either freshman or sophomores, including seven of the nine players who have averaged at least ten minutes per game. As teams that are full of youth normally do, this team has normally been quite inconsistent shooting the ball; a team-wide field goal percentage of 44.7 percent is extremely indicative of this pivotal issue.
With the Big 10 tournament due to be played next week, Indiana isn’t completely out of the running for a berth in the NCAA Tournament, but an at-large bid is certainly off the table. This is because the Hoosiers simply aren’t good enough to warrant a spot in the tournament at this point, and their mix of a poor record and 85th ranking in the RPI leaves them firmly on the outside of the bubble. The only way to pop this bubble is if they surprise everyone and win the Big 10 Tournament.