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Like all IU fans, I'm happy that the selection show, the brackets, the TV schedule, and everything else are relevant to us this year. Indiana is back in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in four years. Let's all vow to never take this for granted again.
My random thoughts on IU's place in the bracket and on other miscellany.
- I don't have a problem with IU as a #4 seed. I thought IU had a chance to move up to 3 and some risk of moving down to 5, but this has been the apparent destination for IU for a long time.
- Before the Tournament, I figured that even if IU didn't make it to the "protected" level of the 4 seed, the fact that four of eight venues were close to home gave IU a good chance to play in front of a friendly crowd. IU did make it to the 4 line, but is playing in...Portland. So be it. IU's last two Final Four teams went west for the first weekend. Still, this means that IU hasn't played its first weekend of the NCAAs within 500 miles of Bloomington since playing in Indy in 1993.
- The four seed is one of IU's two best in the post-1993 era. IU was a four seed in 2001, Mike Davis's first year, and lost to Kent State in the first round.
- I'm a little resentful that the most likely end to IU's season is that Kentucky will get the chance to avenge IU's win and will do so in a big way. I know that the committee doesn't look for such matchups, or so they say, but it is an unfortunate draw.
- Before IU worries about the Sweet 16, of course, it's necessary to beat New Mexico State. The Aggies beat New Mexico, a 5 seed, back in November, but that is NMSU's only win over a Pomeroy top 100 team. Their best wins other than against the Lobos were against Utah State, Drake, and UTEP.
- Wichita State, IU's likely second round opponent, by seed, has made the Tournament only 8 previous times, but has made the best of it. WSU went to the Sweet 16 in 2006, in its last appearance, reached a regional final in 1981, made it to the Final Four in 1964, and went to the regional Final in 1961. That means the Shockers have either won two games or made it to the elite eight in four of their eight appearances.
- If WSU goes down in the first round, then IU's second round opponent would be Virginia Commonwealth, one of the most tournament-tested teams in the field, last year's First Four to Final Four team.
- The good news is that there seem to be plenty of programs, if not teams, that could knock the Wildcats out before the Final Four, which is perhaps my top non-IU rooting interest in the tournament. The defending champs in round 2? The top program of the last 25 years as a 2 seed? Pretty good.
- I was happy to see Michigan State as a #1 seed, not because of any special affinity for the Spartans, but because it is the first time I can recall any evidence that the committee had watched and credited the outcome of the Big Ten Tournament championship game.
- Wisconsin and Vanderbilt have been reliably unreliable in the NCAA Tournament, yet they now seem likely to play each other with a trip to the Sweet 16 on the line.
- Purdue seems to have a reasonably good chance of continuing its first round streak, but playing Kansas in Omaha will be rough.
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