Taking a break from the pain that is the Indiana Football Experience, we have some positive basketball news for everyone today. Teri Moren’s 2021-22 Indiana Basketball will begin the season ranked number 8 in the country, the highest ranking in program history. This ranking comes on the heels of their sixth consecutive twenty-win season and an appearance in the NCAA Elite Eight. All five starters will be returning for Moren.
Mike Woodson’s squad got more positive news this week as they come in at the second team receiving votes in this year’s AP College Basketball Preseason Poll. Before anyone yells at me that we are a Blueblood program that should expect more, I would like to say, yes, I agree. But for a program who consistently underperformed through all four years of Archie Miller’s tenure and the final year of Tom Crean’s, these votes are a reminder that the potential is there and that the right coach can bring the program back to national prominence. Combined with the success Woodson has had with landing elite, out-of-state talent, and I am once again cautiously optimistic about Indiana Basketball.
Elsewhere in the Big Ten
Despite the highest ranking in program history, the Hoosiers are not the highest ranked team in the conference this year with Maryland coming in at the four spot. Iowa is right on Indiana’s heels, starting the season in the same position they finished last season. Michigan also started the season with their program’s highest ranked start in the 11 spot. Ohio State is the next Big Ten team in the rankings, as they tied with Georgia Tech for the number 17 ranking. Michigan State is the second team receiving votes and the only other Big Ten Program to appeal in the preseason AP poll. The Big Ten having five ranked teams ties them with the Pac 12 and ACC as the most competitive in the nation.
You can look at the full rankings here, but it’s worth noting that the AP seems to be fairly high on the Big Ten again after a disappointing performance in last year’s March Madness. Of note, Michigan and Purdue come in at sixth and seventh respectively, while Illinois earned the number 11 ranking despite the loss of Ayo Dosunmu to the draft. Ohio State will begin the season at 17 and Maryland is the last Big Ten team to make the top 25 at number 21, but Michigan State eked out the Hoosiers to be the first team receiving votes, so it’s plausible that more teams from the conference enter the top 25 this year.
Across the Country
Indiana’s Elite Eight opponent, Arizona, fell to the 22 spot in the preseason rankings despite reaching the national championship game as a three seed last season. For the second straight year, South Carolina will be starting the season as the number one country as they received 14 of the 29 first place votes. Kentucky will start the season ranked 13, which makes Indiana’s November 16th matchup with the Wildcats in Bloomington one of the most notable in their out-of-conference schedule. Accordingly, that game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN. Indiana also has defending champion Stanford on the schedule, and they begin the season ranked third as the only team besides Uconn and South Carolina receiving first place votes. NC State, another non-conference opponent, begins the season ranked fifth. The Hoosiers will have plenty of chances to crack the top five nationally before they enter conference play this season.
Predictably, Gonzaga will start the season in the one spot. At some point, I think they’ll have to actually win a national championship to justify these high preseason poll rankings, but they once again have a talented roster and will probably not face too much competition in the West Coast Conference this year. None of Indiana’s three biggest non-conference opponents, Syracuse, St. Johns, and Notre Dame, are ranked right now. Syracuse and St. Johns each received five votes and Notre Dame got three votes of their own. Virginia comes in ranked at 25, which I mention only because I think it’s interesting that Armaan’s decision to leave now seems a little more questionable, though it was hard to fault at the time since Indiana appeared to be going nowhere fast.