Listen— I’m surprised as you are. I’m also delighted that Indiana has forced themselves out of the grave like a bunch of terrifying basketball zombies and given me a reason to walk back my eulogy and, instead, discuss this team’s path to the Big Dance.
Last week I wrote a piece following Indiana’s shock win over Wisconsin that the Hoosiers were a lot closer to the tournament than you thought. But, even then, the point of the piece was to say “hey, despite what we previously thought, this team can play play their way in without the benefit of an autobid.” There had been teams that got in with a résumé similar to the kind Indiana could still achieve with what was left in their season.
Bottom line: even before they beat Michigan State, Indiana had enough good wins to make the field and no bad losses to boot. Indiana’s only issue was that they didn’t have enough wins overall. They’ve played the 3rd toughest schedule in the country to this point and got battered as a result, but that doesn’t mean they’re completely unworthy of a bid.
Because, believe it or not, from a peripherals standpoint, the Hoosiers currently have a tournament-worthy résumé. T-Rank’s comparison tool shows us that teams with the Hoosiers’ current NET (or RPI for previous years), power rating, and win quadrant records (previously the RPI tiers) make the field more often than they don’t:
Make no mistake, Indiana still has work to do. I set the minimum wins to get in at 18 and I stand by that. There’s a slight chance that, with the Michigan State win, that they can sneak in with 17 but I think they’ll have to win the next three (at Illinois, vs. Rutger, and their first game in the Big Ten Tournament) to feel good about their chances. As always, that’s far easier said than done. Illinois is playing pretty good ball as of late, Rutger has been an annoying bugaboo for Archie, and the Big Ten Tournament has never been kind to the Hoosiers in any regime.
The Bracket Matrix, which aggregates dozens of bracketologists, has Indiana in the First Four Out as of this morning. Anyone who has the Hoosiers in their field has them as a 12-seed and most have them in Dayton as one of their Last Four In.
Bottom line: Indiana is as on-the-bubble as you can get this time of year. Their seed line is going to swing wildly over the next few games. If they continue to rack up wins they could push past Dayton altogether. Or they could lose to Illinois and Rutger to end the season and quickly close the book on one of the more profoundly bizarre campaigns in recent memory.