Indiana’s current two-game win streak with blowout wins over Rutger and Minnesota, coming on the heels of close losses to Purdue and Michigan State at home, has brought a more positive light on what has been up to that point a very forgettable first season under new head coach Archie Miller.
While the Hoosiers have looked a lot better over the past couple of weeks, Indiana finds itself squarely on the NIT bubble and will need to battle over the rest of the regular season and in the Big Ten Tournament just to secure a bid in the 32 team field.
As most would imagine, there is not much of a mainstream interest in NIT bracketology, which can make projections harder to find. However, there are two sites that update semi-regular NIT bracket projections: NYC Buckets and DRatings.
As of Sunday, the last time NYC Buckets updated its projections, Indiana was listed as one of 12 teams in the “Others Seriously Considered (Strong CBI/CIT candidates).” DRatings also do not currently have the Hoosiers in their field of 32, which was updated on Monday morning.
So what does this mean? First of all, you could likely put any remaining hopes of an NCAA at-large bid to bed. At just 14-12 with no great wins and ugly losses to Indiana St and IPFW. That puts Indiana’s RPI (yes the RPI is dumb and outdated, but since the selection committee still uses it is relevant) at a measly 111. To compare, NC State and USC, the last two teams in per ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, own RPIs of 71 and 48.
As far as the NIT goes, Iowa St and Stanford—two other teams on the NIT bubble—sit with RPIs of 88 and 94 respectively.
This isn’t to say that Indiana’s resumé will not improve, the Hoosiers are playing their best basketball of the season and they still have chances to get marquee wins such as Ohio State at home in the regular season or in the Big Ten Tournament.
But by looking at KenPom’s game predictions, the Hoosiers are projected to finish the season 16-14. Assuming the season ended today, Indiana would be the 7 seed at Madison Square Garden, and would theoretically draw 10th seeded Wisconsin before facing off against Michigan State. If the Hoosiers were to defeat the Badgers and then lose to the Spartans, they would end the season with a 17-15 record.
To compare, The Indiana Hoosiers of 2016-17 finished with an extremely similar 18-15 record. However, those Hoosiers had a pair of top-three wins in their back pocket, as they defeated Kansas and North Carolina in the first month of the season. Those two wins created a safety net for the Hoosiers, and even though they spiraled out of control and missed the NCAA Tournament, the victories help them coast into the NIT with a 3 seed.
This season’s Hoosiers lack the quality wins of last season and also has a pair of ugly blowout losses, the fact that the records will look similar will not help Indiana on their quest to play any postseason basketball in March. The Hoosiers can still make the NIT, and maybe even draw a first-round matchup with rival Kentucky if the Cats keep sliding, but there is still work for Archie Miller and his team to get a bid on Selection Sunday.