Great Expectations: introducing an offseason series.

BLOOMINGTON, IL - FEBRUARY 15: Indiana Hoosiers cheerleaders perform during the Big Ten Conference game against the Northwestern Wildcats at Assembly Hall on February 15, 2012 in Bloomington, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

What a difference a year makes! A year ago, most of us were hoping for any sort of NCAA bid, even a trip to the "first four" in Dayton. IU was trying to return to respectability after three consecutive 20 loss seasons. Today, not even seven months after IU's opener against Stony Brook on November 11, 2011, IU has shot past respectability and is the odds-on favorite to win the 2013 NCAA Tournament. Of course, as IU fans (at least those of us of a certain age), we know what it's like to root for a team that is the target, but the progress over the last four months has been dizzying. It's exciting, yet a bit unnerving. Nevertheless, the sudden shift, in less than a calendar year, from "can Indiana break .500?" to "can Indiana win it all?" led me to take a look at the history of IU basketball and how various IU teams have handled high preseason expectations.

Barring an unexpected twist, the 2012-13 Indiana Hoosiers will be the 15th IU team to begin the season ranked in the top 5 of the season's first AP Poll, but the first since 1992-93. The AP Poll began in January 1949, and IU made its first appearance in the poll (top 5 or otherwise) on January 5, 1950, ranked #5. I am calling it the "first poll" instead of the "preseason poll" because at one time, the poll did not begin until after the season was underway. Beginning next week, we'll begin a rundown of those IU teams (covering a couple a week or so) and will take a look at how they fared in the face of high preseason or early season expectations. You can look up the list if you like, but I'm not going to post it in full. It may be interesting to see which teams bore the burden and which didn't. Regardless, it should be a fun trip through the history of IU basketball.

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