The No. 60 Indiana University women’s tennis team will face its toughest competition of the season on Friday when the Hoosiers face No. 2 Duke in Las Vegas, Nev. at 10:30 a.m.
The Blue Devils are 9-2 this season. Their only losses were against No. 8 North Carolina and on the road against No. 13 Michigan. Duke’s wins were in dual matches against No. 74 Wisconsin, No. 60 Wyoming, No. 15 Baylor, No. 14 Northwestern, No. 2 Florida and No. 19 Notre Dame.
The Blue Devils have five ranked singles players. In singles, Duke boasts No. 16 Hanna Mar, No. 35 Ester Goldfeld, No. 84 Marianne Jodoin, No. 88 Mary Clayton and No. 119 Monica Turewicz. In doubles, Clayton/Goldfeld are No. 11 in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings.
IU has the No. 52 doubles tandem of senior Leslie Hureau and junior Sophie Garre.
Indiana is 10-4 entering the dual match and will put its perfect record on neutral courts on the line against Duke.
The two teams have played on an annual basis since the 2003-04 season and the match location has alternated between Durham, N.C. and Bloomington, Ind. before this year’s match in Las Vegas, Nev.
Over that time span, Duke is 9-0 against Indiana and the Hoosiers have never earned more than two points in a single dual match against the Blue Devils.
The Hoosiers started the season at No. 1 and have been ranked no worse than seventh this season thanks to their 24-3 record. Indiana has lost on two last-second shots and IU’s losses have been by a total of nine points.
Indiana’s non-conference schedule was worse than almost every other top-ranked team. The only ranked team the Hoosiers played before the start of their Big Ten schedule was No. 14 UNC, who hasn’t been ranked since week 7 after the Tar Heels suffered five losses by at least nine points in its first 15 games.
However, IU’s weak schedule early in the season proved not to be a cause for concern for the Hoosiers once they won 12 of their first 14 conference games, which included five against opponents ranked in the top 15. One of Indiana’s greatest achievements has been its ability to win on the road in tough environments. IU won at Ohio State and Michigan State, which are the Buckeyes’ and Spartans’ only home losses in conference play this season.
Indiana will be favored to win its next three games—against Minnesota, Iowa and Ohio State—but the regular season finale at Michigan could be problematic for the Hoosiers. Michigan has not lost at home this season and the Wolverines will be eager to get revenge for their eight-point loss at Assembly Hall on Feb. 2nd.
Indiana has established itself as the No. 1 team in the country by holding the spot for 10 of the 17 weeks this season. The Hoosiers’ strong performance in the Big Ten made up for a weak non-conference résumé and they are on pace to earn the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament. As long as IU does not lose more than once in the remainder of the regular season and is not blown out in a loss, the Hoosiers will likely maintain the No. 1 seed in the Midwest Region.
Prediction: Indiana will win its next three games relatively easily but the game at Michigan will be a very tough challenge for the Hoosiers. IU will defeat Michigan by fewer than five points in a competitive matchup. The Hoosiers will be the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten Tournament but will lose to Wisconsin or Michigan State in the semi-finals or championship. However, Indiana will maintain its No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament and will be placed in the Midwest Region.
During Week 15 of last year’s college basketball season, it was evident that the Kentucky Wildcats were the premier team in college basketball and UK’s freshman center Anthony Davis was the best player in the country. The Wildcats had a 25-1 record, with their only slip up being a 73-72 loss at Indiana early in December that will forever be remembered for the “Wat Shot.” Kentucky lost only one more game, the SEC Championship, the rest of the season and lived up to expectations by winning last year’s NCAA Tournament.
There is no Kentucky this year. In the past six weeks, the No. 1 team has changed five teams. No one has separated from the pack and any team that enters the top five seems to play hot potato with the No. 1 spot by losing. Last week, four of the top five teams–Indiana, Florida, Michigan and Kansas–in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll lost at least once. Kansas dropped consecutive games for the first time since November 21-22, 2005. Every team in the latest AP Poll has at least two losses, the average number of losses per top 25 team is slightly over four and No. 20 Wisconsin has seven.
So what does it all mean?
A) The NCAA Tournament Selection Committee are going to have a difficult time determining the field of the 68 teams that make it to the Big Dance.
B) Once the teams and seeds are finalized, the national championship is truly up for grabs.
Without further adieu, here are my NCAA men’s basketball power rankings for Week 15:
1. Miami Hurricanes (19-3, 10-0)-Miami is the only team in one of the power six conferences to have a perfect conference record. The Hurricanes’ 10-0 record in ACC play has given Miami a two-game cushion over Duke. The Hurricanes have proven that they can run traditional college basketball powerhouses out of the gym as seen by their 27-point win against Duke and 26-point victory over North Carolina.
2. Indiana Hoosiers (21-3, 9-2)-Indiana let an 11-point lead with seven minutes remaining against Illinois slip away, which could been a major concern for the Hoosiers if it wasn’t for IU’s bounce back win at No. 10 Ohio State. The 81-68 victory was Indiana’s first road win over a ranked opponent since 2002 and kept the Hoosiers atop the AP Poll.
3. Michigan Wolverines (21-3, 8-3)-If Ben Brust’s half-court prayer didn’t force overtime in Madison, Wisc. and eventually lead to a Badgers victory, Michigan would likely be No. 1 team in the country. The Big Ten’s abundance of tournament-bound teams has taken its toll on the Wolverines, who are tied for third in the conference with Wisconsin.
4. Duke Blue Devils (21-2, 8-2)-The Blue Devils have finally gotten their feet under them after losing senior forward Ryan Kelly to a foot injury. Duke lost two of its first three games without Kelly but have rattled off five straight wins as the team sits in second place in the ACC.
5. Michigan State (20-4, 9-2)-Don’t look now but the Spartans are tied for first in the Big Ten with Indiana. The Spartans still have to play Michigan twice as well as Indiana, Ohio State and Wisconsin a second time; if Sparty can survive the gauntlet, they have a shot at a No. 1 seed in March.
6. Florida Gators (19-3, 9-1)-The Gators should not be judged too harshly for their 80-69 loss to Arkansas. Every team has off nights and Florida showed that their lone conference loss was a fluke. They returned to their prior form by beating Mississippi State by 25 on Saturday.
7. Gonzaga Bulldogs (23-2, 10-0)-Barring a horrible loss or two, Gonzaga seems destined for a No. 2 seed with an outside chance to be a No. 1 if the teams in front of them don’t finish the regular season on high notes. The Bulldogs are a major question mark because of their weak conference schedule. They aren’t tested on a nightly basis the way that ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12 or Pac-12 teams are. Gonzaga played against three ranked opponents and lost two of those matchups, which could hint at an early exit in the tournament.
8. Syracuse Orange (20-3, 8-2)-If Syracuse can settle senior forward James Southerland’s eligibility issue, then the Orange may be the favorite to win the Big East and ‘Cuse could match last year’s Elite Eight appearance.
9. Kansas Jayhawks (20-4, 8-3)-Last week may have been the darkest period in the history of Kansas basketball with three losses. Texas Christian University’s first Big 12 win, an unexpected 62-55 upset of the Jayhawks, was sandwiched by Kansas losses to unranked Oklahoma State and Oklahoma. With four teams within one game of the conference lead, Kansas doesn’t have any more room for error in a wide open Big 12.
10. Arizona Wildcats (20-3, 8-3)-Arizona was one of the hottest teams in the country and arguably the best team out West early in the season with wins against No. 5 Florida, Miami (Fla.) and No. 17 San Diego State during its 14-0 start. However, the Wildcats have started to show their true colors and fade from the spotlight with losses to unranked Oregon, UCLA and California.
Collectively, North Carolina, Kentucky and Illinois have 13 men’s basketball national championships, 38 Final Four appearances and a 260-118 record in the NCAA Tournament. However, all three teams could be in danger of missing the tourney this season. North Carolina is 13-6 (3-3) and tied for fifth place in the ACC. Kentucky is also 13-6 (4-2) and tied for third in the SEC. Illinois is 15-6 (2-5) and tied for ninth in the Big Ten.
I tweeted at several college basketball analysts about what the chances are that the teams meet in the First Four (teams 65 through 68) in Dayton, Ohio in March.
Certainly, I don’t expect these three teams to be in the “First Four,” let alone for all three to make the 2013 NCAA Tournament, but it would make for an exciting day of basketball in Dayton.
Now is not a good time to be a top ranked team in college basketball. In the span of six days, four teams ranked in the top three lost to lower ranked or unranked opponents. Last week, Oregon upset No. 3 Arizona, No. 20 North Carolina State knocked off No. 1 Duke and No. 15 Ohio State was victorious against No. 2 Michigan. With the three losses the No. 5 Indiana Hoosiers moved up three spots to No. 2 but lost to Wisconsin at home 64-59 on Tuesday.
The Badgers were a nightmare matchup for the Hoosiers. Wisconsin prides itself on slowing down the pace of the game and playing tough defense, which go against Indiana’s play style of scoring in transition and racking up over eighty points per game on average.
The first half was different from Indiana’s other home games this season. The Hoosiers typically have no problem scoring at home and distancing themselves from their opponents–even good teams like Minnesota and North Carolina. A combination of easy baskets in transition, effective three-point shooters and multiple scoring options gives Indiana breathing room at halftime. IU was winning by nine points after the first half against North Carolina, 23 points against Minnesota and the rest of their non-conference home games were similar scenarios. However, against the Badgers, Indiana was only leading by one after the first half.
Outside of Cody Zeller’s first half, no Hoosier player had a good performance offensively. Zeller had 18 points on 8-8 shooting against Wisconsin senior center Jared Berggren. In the second half, the sophomore center scored only five points and made just one of his seven shot attempts. Other than Zeller and freshman forward Jeremy Hollowell, who made the one shot that he took and contributed the only two bench points of the night, no Indiana player shot above 43 percent. The other four starters, senior Christian Watford, junior Victor Oladipo, senior Jordan Hulls and freshman Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell, were a combined 10-31. Junior Will Sheehey, sophomore Remy Abell and freshman Hanner Mosquera-Perea were 0-7 from the field. Indiana’s shooting woes were the result of tight defense from Wisconsin and a team-wide epidemic of a bad shooting night. The quality of a team’s warmups may not have a direct correlation to how the players will perform but I noticed that few shots were falling in the pre-game shooting drills, which may have carried over to the actual games.
The lack of outside shooting options for the Hoosiers made it especially difficult for Indiana when one of its players was able to penetrate into the lane. On two occasions, Jordan Hulls drove to the basket, jumped and looked for an outlet pass but he could not find any open teammates and turned the ball over both times.
While the Badgers connected on less than one-third of their three-point attempts, the ones that they made came at critical points in the game, either to take the lead from Indiana or begin to pull away from the Hoosiers. One of their largest leads of the game came with 12:13 remaining in the second half when Wisconsin went on a 9-0 run that included a pair of three-pointers from freshman Sam Dekker and senior Mike Bruesewitz.
Victor Oladipo scored the first three points of the game after halftime to extend Indiana’s lead but the Hoosiers failed to play with the urgency that they needed against a tough opponent. Indiana’s zone defense left gaping holes for Wisconsin to exploit and by the time that IU Coach Tom Crean called for full-court pressure, it was too late for the No. 2 team in the country. Wisconsin made six free throws in the final 71 seconds and the Badgers held off Indiana to complete the upset at Assembly Hall.
It is irresponsible to declare under most circumstances that the officials decided the game based on their calls. Many Hoosier fans are up in arms over several calls against Indiana.
Were most of the calls justified?
Were a couple of the calls absolutely outrageous?
The referees did not decide the game but some of the calls certainly made it more difficult for Indiana to surmount Wisconsin in a late comeback. The worst of the calls occurred with 1:11 remaining after Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell made the second free throw after being fouled to bring Indiana within four of Wisconsin. Wisconsin’s Mike Bruesewitz tried to set a screen on Victor Oladipo, held him and the two were tangled up as Oladipo tried to get past him. A foul was called on Oladipo, Brusewitz made a free throw to extend Wisconsin’s lead and Indiana lost seven ticks on the clock when there wasn’t much time to spare.
The past eight winners of the Big Ten have lost only seven home games, which suggests that Indiana may be out of luck to win the conference. The Hoosiers still have to face Michigan (x2), Michigan State (x2), Ohio State (x2), Minnesota and Illinois.
While Will Sheehey and Remy Abell have received national recognition as potentially being the best sixth and seventh men in the country, respectively, the pair has combined for only one point on 0-12 shooting in the past two games. Indiana needs them to step up, especially on offense, if the Hoosiers want to win the Big Ten and battle for a No. 1 seed in March.
However, it is not just Sheehey and Abell who make Indiana’s bench a liability. Jeremy Hollowell has only scored six points in the four games since he sat out during an NCAA investigation. Junior Maurice Creek hasn’t played since the Dec. 15 game against Butler due to an injury and senior Derek Elston has not played in the past three games. Freshman Hanner Mosquera-Perea is not yet a scoring option on offense and only plays when Zeller needs a quick breather. Freshman Peter Jurkin has only played in three games after serving a nine-game suspension and has yet to play for more than four minutes in a game.
Currently, Indiana is only seven players deep. Mosquera-Perea and Hollowell will play minor minutes but IU Coach Crean will need to develop the talent on his bench for Indiana to play to its potential in the remainder of the Big Ten schedule and the NCAA Tournament.
Indiana has lost 11 consecutive games against Wisconsin and Tom Crean is still searching for his first win against the Badgers as head coach of Indiana.
Conference play is officially underway in most conferences, which means that it’s time to evaluate whether it’s time to buy, sell or hold stock in some of the country’s top college basketball teams.
The Bulldogs’ two losses came in the team’s first five games and since their loss to Illinois, who is currently ranked eleventh, Brad Stevens’ squad has rattled off nine straight victories, including a win over No. 1 Indiana. Butler is playing their trademark tough defense and the Bulldogs have wins over Marquette, North Carolina and Northwestern in addition to knocking off the Hoosiers. Butler is the favorite to win the A-10 and its stock can continue to rise with a good conference record.
The Rams suffered three early losses to Wichita State, who is likely the second best team in the Missouri Valley, Duke and Missouri. However, VCU rebounded and is 12-3 with favorable chances to win a wide open Atlantic 10.
The Golden Gophers started the season unranked but have won their way to the ninth spot in the rankings. Their lone loss was to Duke, which is certainly nothing to be ashamed of considering the Blue Devils’ success this season. Minnesota is on a nine game win streak and has won six consecutive games by double digits, with the latest being a 76-63 home win against No. 18 Michigan State.
In Bruce Weber’s first year as head coach of the Wildcats, Kansas State is off to an impressive 12-2 record. K-State lost to Michigan and Gonzaga early in the season but have put those behind them with wins over Florida and Oklahoma State. The Wildcats will be in the mix of teams competing for second place in the Big 12 behind Kansas.
UK was way overrated at No. 3 in the preseason but the Wildcats have had time to work out some of their kinks in their non-conference schedule. Ryan Harrow gives them a good option at point guard that they were missing early in the season. They lost to Duke and Louisville, two of the top four teams in the country, and Notre Dame in their first true road test. Many of the growing pains are out of the way and a top three finish in the SEC isn’t out of the question as the will compete with Florida and Missouri for the conference title.
The Buckeyes have faced three ranked teams-Duke, Kansas and Illinois-and lost all three games. With six ranked teams in the Big Ten, the Buckeyes will have to win big games, especially on the road, and they haven’t proven that they’re up to the challenge just yet.
The Panthers cracked the AP Top 25 with an appearance at No. 24 but it will be short-lived after losing to Cincinnati and Rutgers in their first two Big East games, which makes then tied for last place in the conference. Pittsburgh had two freshmen in the starting lineup, which could make for a slow start to conference play.
Mick Cronin’s Bearcats reached as high as eighth in the rankings but Cincinnati lost to New Mexico and St. John’s in the team’s last three games. UC has a challenging next matchup when it hosts No. 21 Notre Dame on Monday.
The Badgers entered the season in the AP Top 25 but fell quickly out of the polls after losses to Florida, Creighton, Virginia and Marquette. Wisconsin plays Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan State, Minnesota and Ohio State in consecutive games in January, which bodes for a difficult month and a bad start to Big Ten play.
The Blue Devils have passed every test that has been thrown at them this season but they can only move down in the rankings from the No. 1 spot. Duke will be expected to win the ACC but North Carolina State, North Carolina or Maryland all have the talent to upset the Blue Devils in conference play.
Sean Miller’s Wildcats are the best team out West but San Diego State, Colorado and Utah’s close losses have shown that Arizona is vulnerable and it could suffer its first loss to a PAC-12 opponent this month.
The Fighting Illini are a very difficult team to examine. They won by double digits against Butler and on the road against Gonzaga. Then Illinois lost to Missouri and Purdue in a three-game stretch, followed by a dominating win over Ohio State. Illinois is certainly a force to be reckoned with in the Big Ten but their up and down play gives the impression that they will have their share of impressive wins and tough losses this season.
The Cowboys blew out North Carolina State early in the season but have lost consecutive games to No. 10 Gonzaga and No. 25 Kansas State, which means that Oklahoma State still has room for improvement in the remainder of the season.
The country’s No. 2 team is off to a 15-0 start but it is only a matter of time until the Wolverines lose their first game. The Big Ten schedule for every team is a mine field–one bad step or slip up and Michigan can receive the first blemish on its 2012-13 campaign. However, the Wolverines are one of the best teams in the country and will give Indiana a run for its money to win the Big Ten.
Stay tuned for the next edition of Sports.Eat.Sleep.Repeat.!
The Indiana Hoosiers sat comfortably atop the preseason college basketball rankings with over double the number of first place votes than No. 2 Louisville in the AP ballot. Even though the 12-1 Hoosiers rank in the top eleven teams in the country in terms of points, rebounds and assists per game as well as field goal percentage, Indiana’s non-conference schedule raises questions about how the preseason No. 1 team will fare in the long run this season.
Through 13 games, Indiana’s best wins are a 24-point blowout victory against North Carolina, who is now unranked despite being ranked fourteenth at the time of the matchup, and a nail-biter against Georgetown in the Progressive Legends Classic Championship in which IU needed an overtime period to pull out the win.
Indiana’s lone loss was in an in-state matchup against Butler, who was unranked at the time but is now ranked eighteenth.
The Hoosiers have yet to compete in a true road test—their non-conference schedule was composed of 10 home games and three matchups on neutral courts. In those games on neutral courts, Indiana did not play like the best team in the country, as its rank indicated. IU was only winning by five points with nine minutes remaining in the second half against Georgia before winning by 13. In the game against Georgetown, there were nine lead changes and the Hoosiers’ largest lead of eight points was short-lived. Not much needs to be said about Indiana’s performance against Butler other than that the Hoosiers let a winnable game slip from their grasp in overtime.
The majority of IU’s home schedule was filled with “cupcake” teams that are incredibly unlikely to win their conference tournaments and make the NCAA Tournament because receiving at-large bids are probably out of the question. It is no surprise that Indiana University and Athletic Director Fred Glass scheduled games against opponents that the Hoosiers could score at least 100 points against in guaranteed blowout wins but Indiana had nine of those games instead of challenging itself against more formidable opponents.
Opponent’s RPI (as of 12/30/12)
North Dakota State
Sam Houston State
Central Connecticut State
Mount St. Mary’s
A few of these games may have been necessary in order to boost the team’s confidence and to give some of the guys towards the end of the bench in-game action but how much will nearly a dozen thirty-point blowouts help the development of a team with its sights on a national championship?
Indiana’s Big Ten schedule, which includes nine games against teams currently ranked, will certainly challenge the Hoosiers but they haven’t been tested enough to appropriately prepare for the difficult conference schedule that awaits them, beginning with a road game against Iowa on Monday, December 31st.
Duke and Michigan State are two schools that Indiana, and the rest of the country for that matter, should look to model themselves after in terms of the difficulty of their non-conference schedules. The Blue Devils have faced No. 3 Kentucky, Minnesota, VCU, No. 2 Louisville, No. 4 Ohio State and Temple. While Duke lacks an away game on its résumé, the Blue Devils have half a dozen wins against tournament bound teams.
Michigan State is known for playing top-ranked competition and scheduling road games that most programs of its caliber would not. The Spartans kicked off their 2012 campaign with games against No. 23 Connecticut and No. 7 Kansas. Tom Izzo’s team then went on the road to play Miami (FL) and Bowling Green. It is no coincidence that since 1995 when Izzo became the Spartans’ head coach, Michigan State has won a national championship and has six Final Four appearances.
A discussion with my friends Braxton and Max last night about which college basketball program has the best current professional players inspired me to go through the current players in the NBA and find the top fifteen programs. I ranked the teams based on the number of players currently in the league and their level of production over an extended period of time. Duke took the number one spot because there are 17 former Blue Devils in the NBA and many of them are major contributors on their teams (or at least they were when they were in their primes).
1. Duke University
Luol Deng-17.7 ppg 7.0 rpg 2.8 apg/43 career playoff appearances/1-time NBA All-Star
Carlos Boozer-14.4 ppg 9.8 rpg 2.0 apg/66 career playoff appearances/2-time NBA All-Star
Shane Battier-6.8 ppg 2.3 rpg 44.2 3P%/74 career playoff appearances/NBA Champion/All-Rookie First Team
J.J. Redick-14.2 ppg 2.3 rpg 4.9 apg/44 career playoff appearances
Kyrie Irving-23.6 ppg 3.7 rpg 5.5 apg/2012 NBA Rookie of the Year
Elton Brand-Career averages of 18.0 ppg 9.3 rpg 50 FG%/30 career playoff appearances
Saturday’s matchup between No. 1 Indiana and Butler was supposed to be about the 9-0 Hoosiers adding freshmen Peter Jurkin and Hanner Mosquera-Perea to their lineup after they served their nine game suspensions. In pre-game warmups, senior forward Derek Elston participated in drills with the rest of the players, indicating that he might take the court sooner than expected after he suffered a torn meniscus at Hoosier Hysteria. However, Brad Stevens and the Butler Bulldogs had other intentions for Saturday afternoon.
Butler entered the game 8-2 with its only losses coming to Xavier on the road and an Illinois squad that’s now ranked tenth in the country. While the Bulldogs were not ranked entering the Boston Scientific Close the Gap Crossroads Classic, their 88-86 victory over Indiana was not their first step into the national spotlight. Butler was the national runner up in both 2010 and 2011. In the Maui Invitational in mid-November, Butler beat then-No. 9 North Carolina 82-71 and led by as many as 29 points in the second half.
Butler never let IU lead by more than seven points, which is dangerous for any team playing the Bulldogs. Butler is the little engine that could and if they hang around long enough in a close game, the Bulldogs can beat any team in the country, as proven by their play over the past four seasons.
Mosquera-Perea, Jurkin, and Elston did not impact the game at all. Jurkin and Elston were on the bench for the entire contest and Mosquera-Perea only played three minutes, scored two points, and grabbed one rebound.
Butler deserved to win because they outplayed Indiana over the course of 45 minutes. While Cody Zeller’s stat line of 18 points and five rebounds does not reflect it, the preseason national player of the year was dominated by Butler center Andrew Smith. Roosevelt Jones posted a double-double for Butler with 16 points and 12 rebounds. Khyle Marshall, Rotnei Clarke, and Erik Fromm also scored in double figures for the Bulldogs.
Clarke was 5-11 from behind the arc, including a three-pointer with 1:40 left in overtime to bring Butler within one point of Indiana. While IU junior Victor Oladipo held Clarke in check for most of the game, fellow Hoosier Will Sheehey could not. Whenever Indiana was on the move looking to make a run, the senior transfer from Arkansas made a big shot. When the Hoosiers maintained a lead for the first time in the first half, Clarke hit a three to steal the lead right back. When IU was winning by five in the final minutes of the first half, he was there again to cut the deficit to two points.
While the Bulldogs made only four percent more of their three-point shots, Butler made 11 to Indiana’s five. Even though Jordan Hulls had 11 shot attempts, he uncharacteristically did not make a three-point basket.
Indiana may have lost the game at the free throw line. The Hoosiers were 27-38 from the charity stripe and just a few more points from made free throws could have changed the outcome of the game.
Once again, Christian Watford was nowhere to be found. He was 1-5 shooting and only grabbed three rebounds. It is no surprise that he has fallen out of 2013 NBA Mock Drafts. He is incredibly inconsistent and has yet to take over a game against a major opponent.
Indiana appeared to be in good position to win the game when the Hoosiers forced some of Butler’s best players into foul trouble. Roosevelt Jones was called for his fourth foul with 15:11 remaining in the second half and Andrew Smith received his fourth with 10:24 to play. However, both players managed to stay at four fouls until two minutes left in the game. Indiana was in the double bonus and had Butler on its last legs but failed to pound the ball into the paint and draw fouls on the Bulldogs.
On paper, Indiana had the advantage in overtime with all five of the team’s starters on the court and two of Butler’s frontcourt players fouled out of the game. Defensive lapses and consecutive three-pointers forced the Hoosiers on their heels. A layup by Alex Barlow with five seconds remaining in OT proved to be the game-winner as Jordan Hulls’ last second three fell short of the basket.
Only eight men’s college basketball teams have gone undefeated since 1939 and no team has since the 1976 Indiana Hoosiers. There is not a school, even the No. 1 Indiana Hoosiers, that is expected to go undefeated. Losses, especially those in road environments such as the Bankers Life Fieldhouse, which was filled with Butler and Purdue fans, are chances for growth. Butler is well-deserving of a top 25 ranking and Indiana is unlikely to fall outside of the top five. Teams are still in the non-conference portions of their schedules, which means that there are still several months remaining until the time of the year when wins and losses define a team.
All of that being said, the first year of the Close the Gap Crossroads Classic was a great success. There was high-quality basketball in both the Indiana-Butler and Notre Dame-Purdue matchups. Indiana, Notre Dame, and Butler are all nationally relevant teams and this annual event will hopefully continue to bring lots of competition and pride to Indiana basketball for years to come.
I talk about the murder-suicide of Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher, whether the Chiefs-Panthers game should be played as scheduled, the passing of former NCAA men’s basketball coach Rick Majerus, if this year’s Kentucky squad is the worst under John Calipari, and whether Duke or Indiana should be ranked number one.