The Hoosiers now have a defined path to their ninth national championship. On Monday the bracket for this year’s NCAA Tournament was announced.
Indiana earned the second overall seed in the tournament and a bye in the first round. They’ll host the winner of a matchup between UConn and Rhode Island to open their tournament run on Sunday Nov. 18. The Hoosiers previously played the Huskies in Bloomington. In September they downed UConn 1-0 behind a goal from Andrew Gutman. Rhode Island finished third in their conference during the regular season before getting hot and winning the three games required to become A-10 Tournament Champions by a cumulative 5-0 score.
There are plenty of good teams in Indiana’s regional. If everything goes the way it would on paper the Hoosiers are looking at a Sweet 16 matchup with Denver, a team that was ranked among the best in the country for much of the season before suffering a couple of tough losses. On the other side of the regional are familiar foes Notre Dame and Michigan as well as a solid Virginia squad.
Looking far in the future, there’s a potential College Cup semifinal matchup with Kentucky that’s in play and should be concerning for Hoosier fans. The Wildcats beat IU 3-0 in Lexington earlier this year.
One thing that will give the Hoosiers a boost will be the return of sophomore forward Justin Rennicks. The speedy striker has recently spent time with the US U-20 team, scoring four goals at the CONCACAF Under 20 Championship, but should be set to return to Bloomington soon. Based on the remaining schedule for the US, Rennicks could be back in the lineup for the Sweet 16. We saw what a boost Griffin Dorsey was to the Hoosiers in his return from international duty on Sunday and Rennicks should be able to provide something similar.
This bid to the tourney continues the longest streak of NCAA Tourney berths in the nation, which now sits at 32 in a row. The No. 2 seed matches the highest seed the Hoosiers have ever received. The last two times the Hoosiers have received the second overall seed, in 2004 and 2017, they’ve advanced to the College Cup. This seed also means that Indiana will host each game they play up until they potentially travel to Santa Barbara for the College Cup.