Now that Indiana is sitting at home and thinking about how great next year could be, there are still the issues of who will be great this year. The tournament has come down to four teams and Hoosiers fans have to root for someone right? The remaining four teams all have some aspects to root for and plenty to root against, but really who should it be?
Should we root for the Indiana natives? That’s going to be hard if that is how you are looking to decide a team. Louisville starts Evansville Memorial’s Kyle Kuric. Ohio State starts Indiana Mr. Basketball DeShaun Thomas and Kentucky starts elite PG Marquis Teague. In the end, everyone but Kansas has an Indiana native in a very big role for their respective teams. So we’re going to hash it out a little deeper than just rooting for native Hoosiers.
Let’s just assume because Kansas doesn’t have a Hoosier they’re out of this fight. We can’t root for someone that doesn’t help my personal narrative that if you want to win a championship you have to have an Indiana high school basketball player on your roster. So we have to choose between Thomas, Kuric and Teague.
First let’s take a look at who Indiana was recruiting very heavily and was spurned by the respective player. DeShaun Thomas was certainly being recruited by Indiana but he was a very early commit to Ohio State and was already off the board when Tom Crean set foot in Bloomington. You can’t fault Thomas for that, so he is still in the running. Kuric was never truly heavily recruited by Indiana. The Hoosiers certainly showed interest for a time but it truly came down to only Louisville, Xavier and Southern Illinois. Missing on Kuric was another result of him being well off the board before Crean came to the program and the future was uncertain. Marquis Teague however, was actively recruited by Indiana for a good length of time but never showed much interest in the Hoosiers program. Therefore he’s the odd man out. I don’t take kindly to be left at the dance without a partner, so we can’t root for Teague and Kentucky (like we would have anyway).
So, Ohio State or Louisville? DeShaun Thomas or Kyle Kuric? Thomas gets bonus points for a rooting standpoint from being a McD’s All-American that got very little playing time last year, but never got frustrated. He realized his role, embraced it and then took over this season. He never showed discontent despite his talent level and lack of use as a freshman. Instead he worked hard to become a second team All-Conference player this year. Good on him.
Kyle Kuric on the other hand has been a four year player who has gone through the growing process that most college players must go through. He’s not a super talented player who could just show up and run competition out of the gym. Kuric has had to work to be where he is today. He went from 5 minutes a game as a freshman, to 14 as a sophomore to a starter by the end of his junior year and a team leader by his senior. He’s essentially taken the career arc that most of our 2009 class should have had if they weren’t forced to play as early as they were. Hard work has made Kuric the player he is today and that also wins major rooting points.
Unfortunately for Thomas, though he seems like a good guy, plays for conference rival Ohio State. It really comes down to not the players but the teams in this toss up. Both Hoosiers have put in work and done nothing to really dislike about them, so it comes down to rivalries. Indiana fans should root for the Louisville Cardinals and Kyle Kuric. Ohio State winning a national championship when they struggle to fill their arena for a basketball game should never happen. When they get consistent fan support come talk to me. Louisville on the other hand fills the Yum Center for a game against Little Mary’s of the Poor School for the Blind. The Louisville Cardinals should be the Indiana Hoosiers surrogate team for the remainder of the year.