Wednesday, February 20, 2013
IU's Final Four chances
By Luke Lapinski
In a season where the No. 1 ranking seems to get passed around every other week, Indiana is starting to make a very strong case for itself as the team to beat. Following last night's thrilling victory over No. 4 Michigan State, the Hoosiers are now 24-3 on the year and 12-2 in the highly competitive Big Ten. What's more, they're 6-0 against Top 25 opponents -- the best record in the nation -- and 4-0 against Top 10 foes this year.
On top of that, KenPom.com has them ranked as the best group in the nation in terms of adjusted offensive efficiency. Granted, there's still time for someone else to step up and knock Tom Crean's squad off. And there are plenty of candidates to do so -- especially in the one-and-done format that March Madness is so famous for. But IU has put itself in a great position. The Hoosiers are the clear top seed right now, and have about as close to a stranglehold on the Big Ten's regular season title as possible at this point. If they win that, they're a virtual lock for a No. 1 seed when the NCAA Tournament rolls around and, as our own Joe Lunardi writes, they're in an excellent spot to be the top No. 1 seed overall. That would likely mean a trip to the Midwest regional, which is played in Indianapolis. And -- on paper, at least -- that paves a much easier path to the Final Four.
Nothing is guaranteed, particularly with the way this season has unfolded. But the program in Bloomington is doing all it can to set itself up on the best possible track right now.