IU played its first round games in Indianapolis in 1993, when IU was the top seed in the Midwest and ranked #1 in the nation. Since then, IU has not played a first or second round game closer to Bloomington than Buffalo, which is about 550 miles (a good 9 hour drive) away.
Here are IU's opening round sites since 1993:
2006: Salt Lake City
2001: San Diego
1994: Landover, MD
Now, I'm not complaining about this. Only once in the last 14 seasons has IU
been seeded fourth or higher. That was in 2001, Mike Davis's first year. The NCAA introduced the pod system in 2002. Under the current arrangement, that IU
team might have been closer to home than San Diego, where IU
lost in the first round to 12 seed Kent State. As I noted below, we can solve this problem by improving our regular season performance. Frankly, it's easier now than it was in previous years. In 1992
blew the Big Ten championship and top seed in the Midwest or Southeast by losing the regular season finale at Purdue and instead became the #2 seed in the West. Of course, that IU
team handled the adversity just fine: they cruised through the West Regional with four double digit wins, ended Shaquille O'Neal's
college career in the second round, and spanked top-seeded UCLA 106-79 in the Regional Final in Alberquerque
. Still, such a late season drop was much more significant then than it is now. Because of that late-season loss, IU
was relegated to Boise for its first and second round games. If that happened today, IU
still would have ended up in the West, but likely would have played its first round games in Cincinnati or Dayton in front of a partisan IU
I'll have more later on Gonzaga in particular and the bracket and selection process in general. It should be a fun week as always.