Well, it's finally here. Today, the Hoosiers find out the who, where, and when of their NCAA Tournament draw. I'm as disappointed as anyone else that IU's losses to Minnesota, Ohio State, and Wisconsin, plus a strong finish to the season by Big East champion Louisville, have put IU in jeopardy of losing the opportunity to play in the Midwest region. Still, even a year ago, let alone two years ago, it would have been unfathomable that IU fans would have any degree of disappointment in a nearly certain #1 seed, the first in 20 years.
Here's what you need to know for today:
- The selection show begins on CBS at 6 p.m. tonight, just after the conclusion of the Big Ten Tournament title game, which begins at 3:30.
- This looks to be a pretty high quality day of basketball. VCU and St. Louis play for the Atlantic 10 title at 1 p.m., at the same time that North Carolina and Miami battle for the ACC crown. I don't want to leave the mid-major conferences out, either: Florida and Mississippi play for the SEC title and 1 p.m as well.
- Whatever happens, IU will be playing its opening NCAA games closer to home than in any Tournament since 1993, when IU played its first two games in Indianapolis. Since then, IU has spent the first weekend in Landover, Maryland (1994), Boise (1995), Orlando (1996, 1999), Winston-Salem (1997), Washington (1998), Buffalo (2000), San Diego (2001), Sacramento (2002, 2007), Boston (2003), Salt Lake City (2006), Raleigh (2008), and Portland, Oregon (2012). On the rare occasions that IU has advanced past the first weekend, IU has played in Miami (1994), Lexington (2002), and Atlanta (2002 Final Four, 2012). Of those 15 cities, only Lexington is within an easy weekend drive of Indiana.
- IU's most likely opening round venue is in Dayton, Ohio, while Lexington is a possibility as well. The games in Dayton are played on Friday and Sunday, while Lexington is a Thursday/Saturday venue. The latest bracket projections all seem to suggest that Ohio State will be in the other Dayton pod, so tickets could be quite a challenge.
- It seems to be anyone's guess whether IU will hold on to the Midwest Regional, which would give IU the opportunity to play Sweet 16 and Elite 8 games in Indianapolis if they get that far. Some of the pundits seem to think IU could be sent to the East, which plays its regional games in Washington, DC. Considering that of IU's six losses, 2 were at home, one was in front of a pro-IU crowd in Indy, and the other was in front of a pro-IU crowd in Chicago, I'm not sure it matters all that much. The biggest downside I see is that Dayton is a Friday-Sunday venue, while DC is a Thursday-Saturday venue. That means that if IU advanced to the Sweet 16 from Dayton, the Hoosiers then would have only three days between games. In short, if IU has to go East, it would be nice if they committee sent us to Lexington rather than Dayton.
Feel free to use this post as an open thread for all of today's on- and off-court proceedings.
EDIT: Even after yesterday, Jerry Palm of CBS has IU as the overall #1 seed and playing in the Midwest. Palm is a Purdue grad, so certainly has no incentive to talk up IU. Much to my surprise, Joe Lunardi's updated bracket isn't available. I have heard conflicting reports of whether he has IU in the Midwest or in the East.