It's ok. It's fine. It's time to say it, to accept it now: Indiana is a really good team.
It's not something fans have been comfortable with embracing, maybe because Indiana hasn't been a really good team in quite some time. But Tuesday night showed everything we've been looking for an IU team to do since Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller left the program.
Indiana entered Tuesday night's game with all sorts of question marks hanging over them. Their best true road win at that point was at Nebraska in the second game of Big Ten play.Even more, they were coming off their shakiest performance in conference play, barely surviving a home game against Minnesota and raising the concern level among fans.It was beginning to feel like a repeat of last season, when IU started out Big Ten red hot, then took a nose dive, barely earned their way into the tournament and said goodbye in the opening weekend.
Add in as bad a start as you can imagine that saw IU fall behind 15-4 early in the game and IU was doomed. They were going to get run out of the gym, drop their second game in the conference and would be looking to hopefully finish .500 in their final eight conference games.
But the Hoosiers did something we haven't seen since 2013 at Ohio State. Maybe even further back then that.
They destroyed a good team on the road.
Indiana unleashed a run that I have never seen in my life, scoring 25 unanswered points to close the half, getting defensive stops, hitting huge three-pointers, and most importantly, attacking the rim. This wasn't a case of IU getting hot and shooting their way to a win. This was a case of IU completely outclassing an opponent in every way imaginable.
Thomas Bryant dominated in the post. Troy Williams played his best game in weeks. Nick Zeisloft finally found his shooting stroke. Yogi Ferrell controlled the tempo, never let Indiana get going too fast, and didn't let the Hoosiers settle for jumpers, finding Williams on backdoor cuts to keep the run going.
For a team that has struggled for years away from home, always seen as a mentally weak team, Tuesday's game was as clear an indicator that this team isn't like it's recent predecessors. Hoosier fans somewhat naturally have had their guard up regarding their expectations of the program. When fans got excited coming into this season with comparisons to the Golden State Warriors, they were met with a dismal effort at the Maui Invitational and followed it up by being run out of Cameron Indoor.Tuesday night, though, is a performance that you would see out of the Warriors. They went into an arena of a contending opponents and destroyed their soul not just offensively, but defensively as well.
That's what teams who can contend for a title do. Not just a conference title, either.
In a wide open year in college basketball, why not. Might as well say it: Indiana might be a dark-horse national title contender if the performance they put up last night in Ann Arbor is representative.
There was little doubt that IU was a Big Ten title contender coming into Tuesday's game, but the Hoosiers put not only the conference, but the nation on notice.
At it's best, no team can match Indiana offensively. The Hoosiers can score inside. They can score outside. And they a point guard in Ferrell leading them who knows which of those shots is needed.
After a terrible start to the year, Crean has Indiana where it needs to be defensively, sporting the #48 adjusted defense according to KenPom. With an offense as potent as they have, that's all Indiana needs.
This isn't a team of the last two years where we should go into road games with a sense of dread and doom. This isn't a team that should find a narrow loss to a good team at home as acceptable. This is a great team, and those aren't signs of a great team.
Tuesday night raised the bar for Indiana. It's might be time for those watching to raise expectations with it.