Now listed fairly solidly listed on the 3-line on most brackets per BracketMatrix.com, it's possible that Indiana could jump up to a 2, or even maaaaaaaaybe a 1 seed when Selection Sunday rolls around -- though the second of the two is extremely unlikely. Both require a confluence of events that involve Indiana playing well in this week's Big Ten Tournament, and teams ahead of them stumbling.
But should the seed line even be the top priority for this Indiana team? Maybe not. For a team that hasn't lost a game when playing in front of a home crowd, the Hoosiers would likely stand to benefit maybe more than other teams from playing games close to home in the tournament. With first round venues in Des Moines, St. Louis, and IU-heavy Brooklyn, and regional sites in nearby Chicago and Louisville, such a path seems possible if the cards shake out right. The committee uses the 68-team S-Curve when selecting sites for each team -- so it might be more desirable for the Hoosiers to be a 2 or 3 seed in the Midwest or South, rather than, say, a 1 seed out West.
First round sites: Des Moines, St. Louis, Oklahoma City, Raleigh, Denver, Providence, Spokane, Brooklyn (two four team pods, can be from different regions)
Regional sites: Chicago, Louisville, Philadelphia, Anaheim (16 teams each)
With that all that laid out, here's who you should be rooting for and against this week to help the Hoosiers get the most favorable path to Houston.
Root against: Xavier
There's no team more important for the Hoosiers to jump this week in on the S-Curve than Chris Mack's Musketeers. Right now, using Joe Lunardi's Bracketology at ESPN as a basis, Xavier is the team standing most in the way of the Hoosiers garnering a two seed and playing in what would likely be the Hoosiers' most desirable first round site in St. Louis.
If you pair up each of the top eight seeds with the nearest available first round site, the logic seems clear cut. Kansas will head to Des Moines, Virginia to Raleigh, North Carolina to Raleigh, Villanova to Brooklyn, Oklahoma to OKC, Oregon to Spokane, and Michigan State to St. Louis. That leaves Xavier as the most viable option for the Hoosiers to pick off that final spot in St. Louis to open the tournament and/or move up to the 2-line, rather than heading to Des Moines as a 3-seed (which wouldn't be awful, either).
They'll open the Big East Tournament tomorrow against the winner of Marquette & St. John's. Cross your fingers for an early L for X.
Root for: Notre Dame
There's no team that can help the Hoosiers outside of the Big Ten Conference like the Irish. The ACC has four seeds among the top four seed lines likely right now (Virginia, North Carolina, Miami, Duke) and a repeat conference tournament title for Mike Brey & Co. would benefit the Hoosiers best' non-conference win greatly -- and a win or two over Miami or North Carolina could help the Hoosiers directly on the S-Curve.
Root against: The Pac-12 frontrunners
Oregon and Utah both share similar profiles to the Hoosiers. RPI loves both Pac-12 teams, but KenPom favors the Indiana. If the Ducks could take an early round loss to Stanford or Washington or Utah to either of the LA teams, the Hoosiers would stand to benefit.
Root for: Creighton
The Jays have a chance to get a crack at Xavier if they can first get past Seton Hall. If Greg McDermott's team could knock off the Musketeers while playing their way into the Tournament, it'd be huge for the Hoosiers' resume.
Root against: The teams you already hate
The two teams that could jump up and keep the Hoosiers out of a midwestern opening round site altogether? Kentucky and Purdue. Either would take the final spot in Des Moines from the Hoosiers if they're able to jump ahead of Indiana on the seeding line. An Iowa win over Purdue would all but solidify Indiana above the Boilers. Any loss for the Cats ahead of the Final in a weak SEC would likely keep them on the 4-line, pending carnage ahead of them.
Root for: Michigan State
All of Indiana's best-case scenarios likely involve Michigan State getting to Sunday in Indianapolis. For the Hoosiers themselves, playing the Spartans in the title game has no downside. If they win, it's a huge boost. Lose? No sweat -- the Spartans might be a 1-seed in that scenario. But if the Hoosiers bow out earlier, it's in the best interest of Indiana fans for the Spartans to hold serve. Iowa and Purdue would conceivably jump Indiana with a Big Ten Tournament title -- and Maryland could do it just by making the title game and beating the Spartans on Saturday. Chalk, not carnage, is good for the Hoosiers in Indy.