PORTLAND, OR - MARCH 17: Bradford Burgess #2o and Rob Brandenberg #11 of the Virginia Commonwealth Rams react after losing to the Indiana Hoosiers 63-61 during the third round of the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the Rose Garden Arena on March 17, 2012 in Portland, Oregon. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Sorry for the delay in commenting on this game. I've been traveling. Obviously, this was an excellent and important win for the team, the coach and the program. Last night's win over VCU guarantees that this season is unambiguously a success. IU has now won 27 games, the most since 1992-93, has advanced to the second weekend of the Tournament for the first time since 2002 and only the second time since 1994, and the team responded to its only losing streak of the season (Minnesota-OSU-Nebraska) by going 12-4 since then. IU lost Verdell Jones III, one of its key leaders and most trusted ballhandlers, to an injury in the Big Ten Tournament, yet survived in the second round against the most opportunistic defense in Division I. The worst case scenario is that IU will lose in the round of sixteen to the best team in the country, having beat that team once already, one of the other number one seeds, and a number two seed. IU's wins over Kentucky, VCU, and Butler mean that IU has defeated three of last season's Final Four teams. Three straight 20 loss seasons gave way to a Sweet 16 season. Before the 2008-09 season began, I expected a trajectory something like disaster in year one, NIT in year two, NCAA in year three, and make some noise in the NCAA in year four. Obviously, years two and three fell short of that timetable, but arguably IU is back on course after this season. As for Tom Crean, as solid as his Marquette record was, this is only his second trip to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament. The first, of course, was his trip to the Final Four nine years ago. This run will make it a bit tougher for his critics to question Crean's Tournament resume.
- Cody Zeller struggled at times, and turned the ball over five times, but he still ended up tied for the team lead with 16 points and was the only Hoosier who spent any time at the line. He also had 13 boards, by far the game high.
- "Good Watford" was present and accounted for. Sixteen points, 4-5 from deep, solid on the boards, only one turnover.
- Victor Oladipo had five turnovers and looked a bit out of control as a ballhandler, but he was 4-5 from the field and had 6 assists.
- Will Sheehey was 4-6 from the field and had 4 assists.