For the first time since Tom Crean roamed Branch McCracken Court, Indiana men’s basketball is in the NCAA Tournament.
The Hoosiers are set for a First Four matchup at 9:10 on Tuesday in Dayton, Ohio. Winner will move onto Portland, where No.5-seed Saint Mary’s awaits. Indiana is an 4-point favorite against Wyoming, per DraftKings.
Here’s a few things you need to know about the Cowboys:
The College Basketball Power Index
Wyoming can boast a strong 25-8 overall record with a 13-5 mark in the Mountain West. But ESPN’s College Basketball Power Index has certain thoughts about what the Cowboys’ season really looked like.
The CPI attempts to measure a team’s true strength through its strength of schedule, strength of record. Atop this index sits No. 1 overall seed Gonzaga. Indiana checks in at No. 34.
Wyoming is all the way down at No. 103. Not great for our saddled friends from out west.
The Cowboys are all the way down there because their strength of schedule is No. 114 and their strength of record is No. 53. For comparison’s sake, Indiana’s strength of schedule is No. 33 and its strength of record is No. 48.
To wrap up this little jaunt over to the worldwide leader, it even provided a prediction for the game. Per ESPN’s index, Indiana has a 79.9% chance of victory tomorrow.
The duo of Ike and Maldonado, and their size
Wyoming is led in scoring by forward Graham Ike (19.6 ppg) and guard Hunter Maldonado (18.4 ppg).
That’s considerable, even more so when one considers that Ike is listed at 6’9” and Maldonado is listed at 6’7”. The latter is considerable size for a guard, but Indiana should have size of its own to counter Maldonado.
Graham also leads the Cowboys in rebounds per game with 9.6. But there’s a considerable drop-off after that, with Maldonado being the next leading rebounder with 5.8 per game.
Trayce Jackson-Davis should be able to leverage his size to pull in a significant amount of boards, with 8.2 rebounds per game this season. And if he can’t do it, Race Thompson, he of 7.6 rebounds per game, is perfectly capable of stepping in.
Indiana’s potential crowd advantage
Dayton is just in Ohio, one state over and very much in driving distance for fans around Indiana. Also consider Indiana fans who reside in Ohio to begin with.
I don’t think I need to mention how far away Wyoming is. Not to diss Cowboys fans! They’re a passionate bunch and I wouldn’t be surprised if many have made the trip out to Buffalo to watch Josh Allen play football in his new home.
But those fans would need to fly, driving that distance in that amount of time on this short of notice is just too out there. Indiana doesn’t have to worry about that too much.
Expect the stands to be a sea of Crimson, all ever so eager to create problems for the Cowboys.