Tom Crean told his Indiana team last night -- the Hoosiers work is hardly done.
The program's second regular season title in four years isn't enough for many outsiders -- and certainly not enough for those inside Indiana's locker room. On a morning where Crean's detractors are still grasping for hater-straws, you best be certain that the same crowd will be out in full force if the Hoosiers fall out early in the NCAA tournament.
So, let's look ahead. What does Indiana's win at Iowa mean for the Hoosiers' NCAA tournament profile? In a best-case scenario, what's the seed-line ceiling for this Indiana team?
Indiana Hoosiers (24-6, 14-3), Big Ten Champions
AP/Coaches poll: 12/11
KenPom rating: 13
Good wins: Purdue (KenPom: 14), Iowa (17), at Iowa (17), Wisconsin (27), Notre Dame (33)
Bad losses: UNLV (115), Wake Forest (128), Penn State (132)
After last night's win, here's where major bracket prognosticators have the Hoosiers.
CBS' Jerry Palm has Indiana as a 4-seed playing first and second round games in Denver, but in the Midwest regional bracket in Chicago's United Center. He's got them matched up against MWC champion San Diego State, and they'd go through to play, of course, Kentucky in the Round of 32 if chalk held.
ESPN's Joe Lunardi has the Hoosiers with a much more favorable projection, as a 3 seed in the Midwest regional in Chicago. They're matched up against a 14-seed Chattanooga, and would play 6-seed Notre Dame in Des Moines if chalk held to the next round. A possible Sweet 16 matchup would loom in Chicago with Xavier, with what would be a heavily Indiana crowd. This scenario is good. Very good. Like, excitingly good for Indiana.
So, what would it take for the Hoosiers to move up to a 1 or 2 line? Is it possible?
Ehhhhhhh. Let's not get ahead of ourselves, here. Indiana has several things working for it -- they've finished the season well, they're the outright champions of a major conference, they've beaten three top teams since February 11 and could add a fourth Sunday. But there are still major resume holes other top teams don't have. Indiana, still, has three losses to teams outside the KenPom top 100. They've got a weak nonconference strength-of-schedule, due to those losses in Maui. Of course, the counter to that is obvious -- how much can the committee penalize Indiana for their performance in a November tournament five time zones away?
If Indiana's to move up, they'll need a win over Maryland on Sunday and a nice conference tournament performance that might need to include a win over Michigan State. They'll also likely need some help. Per Lunardi, here are the eight teams on the two seed lines above Indiana:
1 seeds: Kansas, North Carolina, Villanova, Virginia
2 seeds: Michigan State, Oklahoma, Xavier, Miami (FL)
So, who there has the best chance to stumble? Look at the ACC teams. It's unlikely that the conference will get 3 on the top two lines, if for no reason other than carnage to come. Miami plays Notre Dame tonight. Virginia heads to Louisville Saturday. North Carolina still has to play Duke -- and that's all before the annual mess that is the ACC tournament. There's, of course, a chance for all of these teams to take an additional tough loss in conference tournaments, too.
So, who'd be in position to slide into one of those top lines? Utah, Oregon, West Virginia, and Indiana are the four teams on Lunardi's 3 line currently. So, if there's a stumble paired with an Indiana win over Maryland and maybe another or two in the conference tournament -- the two line is certainly a possibility.
But a one-seed? Let's relax a little here, y'all.