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Indiana 76, North Carolina 67: Three things from a dominating performance in Bloomington

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Tom Crean’s team picks up its second win over a Top-3 team in November. What did we learn?

NCAA Basketball: North Carolina at Indiana Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Laughing my ass off at your Fort Wayne jokes, tbh.

Indiana ran out to an early 17-point lead in the first half and never really looked back, avenging last year’s Sweet 16 loss to the 3rd-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels. A long Indiana field-goal drought got the Heels within four with a handful of minutes to play, but never any closer. All five Indiana starters scored in double figures, with OG Anunoby leading the way with 16 points.

What did we learn?

The Fort Wayne game doesn’t matter and it never did.

Indiana lost to Fort Wayne on the road in a weird game where arguably Indiana’s best player had the flu. No one will particularly care now, nor should they.

Indiana isn’t a gimmicky basketball team, and this win wasn’t birthed from some absurd three-point shooting percentage. Tom Crean’s team only shot 38 percent from long range in this one. They shot only 66% from the free throw stripe. This wasn’t a flawless, flash-in-the-pan performance.

Indiana won because, right now in November, Indiana is as good a basketball team as there is in the college game currently. This, also, was a mad basketball team. From the get-go, the Hoosiers played downright angry, swarming to loose balls and rebounds. Consider: James Blackmon was a rebound away from a double-double. A rebound!

There’s still some time that needs to pass before we’re able to pin down exactly what this Indiana basketball team is. It’s probably not quite the shooting squad in the long run that last year’s roster featured, but it should still feature plenty of outside shooting, more balance inside, and an improved defense. Josh Newkirk was notably tremendous on the defensive side of the ball tonight, even if a handful of drives were forced. His leadership on the floor as a veteran was apparent, too.

But, yeah. Indiana now has the best two wins in America, and it isn’t close. One team in America has beaten Kansas and North Carolina. Had they not sleptwalked through a weird-game without OG Anunoby in Fort Wayne, they’d be the country’s number 1 team on Monday, no questions asked.

But they didn’t. And they won’t be. And that’s probably better for all of our sanity in the long run.

Gravity is merely a suggestion to OG Anunoby

Basketball? It’s fun.

The schedule clears for a bit, and sets up likely the biggest Indiana-Butler game ever

Indiana’s next three games are at home against teams KenPom gives them a 99% chance to beat — all below 293rd in his rankings. And yes, yes, that significantly worse than 121st ranked Fort Wayne.

Assuming Butler can knock off a couple lesser foes and handle Cincinnati, we’ll likely have the first ever Top-15 matchup (at least) between the two schools a week or so before Christmas. Crossroads Classic gonna be fun, y’all.