I realize we just did this two weeks ago, but now at the halfway point and the idea of the Hoosiers being right in the mix for a NCAA tournament spot after their victory yesterday over Michigan, I thought now would be a good time to update where we stand. Also we're going to update the numbers from the start of the conference season. If you recall, I listed the games in order of difficulty. Well since then, Indiana's numbers have changed as have other teams with their improved or decreased level of play. I think now is the best time to look forward to order of difficulty and how things have changed.
As you see here, in order of difficulty not much has shifted in terms of who is the toughest opponent. Wisconsin and Michigan have swapped spots, as have Ohio State and Iowa, Penn State and Nebraska. However, the increase in play from one squad has picked up the slack for another. Obviously our best shot at getting the 5 wins necessary to reach .500 in conference are going to come from the bottom half of the schedule.
Pomeroy now has the Hoosiers as favorites in the bottom four games remaining and a 2 point home dog to Ohio State. Now I wouldn't take that as too positive of a sign just yet. Indiana's games against Purdue and Northwestern are essentially classified as tossups that slightly favor the Hoosiers. If we use his numbers the likelihood of IU winning all four of those games is still only about 14%. That means Indiana needs to find a home win against both Iowa and Ohio State to be comfortable. The probability of that happening is also about 14%.
So as you can see going forward the NCAA tournament is still going to be a tough road to hoe. The Hoosiers already have two high quality top 10 victories, so getting resume wins aren't really the issue anymore. At this point it is all about volume. 8 wins is absolutely mandatory and even with that we're probably on the bubble looking in.
Last year two conference teams earned bids by posting an 8-10 record. Illinois had two wins against top 10 teams and beat fellow bubble team Minnesota on the road. Minnesota also grabbed a tournament bid at 8-10 by defeating 3 top ten teams and beating Illinois on the road. Both squads essentially defended their home turf while fighting off top contenders and grabbed some gimme games on the road.
An 8-10 Indiana is also going to be a team that has at least two top 10 wins at home and what should amount to gimme wins on the road against Penn State and then 1 of Northwestern or Purdue. So yes, that resume would be roughly equivalent to last year's 8-10 squads to make the tournament, but remember the bubble and qualifications are ever shifting. The Hoosiers really should get 9 wins to be safe.
Really what this breakdown should tell you more than anything is that we weren't nearly as far away from the bubble as we all thought on Friday morning, but it is nowhere close to a sure thing at this point either. This young Indiana team has to continue to take it one day at a time. Win at Minnesota on Saturday and then defend home against the lower half of the conference and I'd say you're as good as a lock for the Dance. Luckily for Indiana the Hoosiers get a week of game prep while Minnesota has to hit the road to play in West Lafayette on Wednesday before the Hoosiers come to town 3 days later.