Basketball in Indiana is like nowhere else. Our high school tournament is still legendary even as a shell of its former self. The Pacers are overachieving. Our Division I college always carry their weight when it comes to the NCAA Tournament. There are only 10 Division I programs here, but seven have had at least one run to the Sweet 16 and five have made at least one Final Four. In 2000 six teams made the tournament, which is still a record.
Unfortunately, this year will not be a banner year for the state. Almost to a team the smaller conference programs were one-and-done in their respective conference tournaments, and just one school, Purdue, is a definite lock for the NCAA tournament as it stands right now.
IUPUI Jaguars (11-19, 8-10) – The Jags’ first season in the Horizon League was mediocre at best. They started the season 3-10 and never really got any momentum going. Even while playing in the renovated Fairground Coliseum they have a nice venue, but the program is unable to build much off of in-state talent. This should be a team picking up the “Best of the rest” in Indy and rolling with it.
Indiana State Sycamores (13-18, 8-10) – The Mighty Trees stunned many by going into Bloomington and absolutely destroying Indiana on the first night of the season. They did very little after that. They lost all three games in their exempt tournament to Auburn, Old Dominion, and Ohio, then won only four other out of conference games. Two were over non-D1 teams. They at least went 3-1 against the other in-state MVC teams. This was a relatively young team though with Brenton Scott and Qiydar Davis the big seniors they lose.
Valparaiso Crusaders (15-17, 6-12) – Year one in the Missouri Valley Conference was not kind to Valpo. A year after nearly getting an at large bid out of the Horizon League the Crusaders started 8-0, but closed 7-17 after losing at Purdue. They lose leading scorer Tevonn Walker, but they had only two seniors, so this club could bounce back.
Evansville Purple Aces (17-15, 7-11) – Just a few years ago the Aces came within a basket of ending their NCAA drought since 1999. They started 5-0 this season but were never very consistent. They finished a game above the bottom of the Missouri Valley Conference and were never a serious threat to win the league. Junior Ryan Taylor did average an impressive 21.3 points per game, however.
Fort Wayne Mastodons (18-14, 7-7) – With Bryson Scott as one of the nation’s leading scorer I thought this was going to be the year they got their first ever NCAA bid. The former Boiler went out guns blazing at 22.4 points per game and even added yet another win over Indiana to his credit. The auto-bid in the Summit League was always the plan and they bowed out with an 86-82 loss to North Dakota State. It is too bad, because they had a pair of close games with league champ South Dakota State, but Fort Wayne was a horrendously bad defensive team. They averaged 82.1 points per game, but gave up 76.3 and lost a lot of shootouts.
Ball State Cardinals (19-13, 10-8) – The Cards haven’t danced since 2000, but they had a memorable moment when Tayler Persons nailed a game-winner to give them an 80-77 win at Notre Dame, who was No. 9 at the time and had a healthy Bonzie Colson. It was one of the bigger upsets of the college basketball season. Persons has another year left and has led them with a 14.9 ppg average. They will have to wait until next season after losing to Kent State in the MAC quarterfinals today.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish (20-14, 8-10) - The Irish are squarely on the Bubble right now, but they have been really good with Bonzie Colson. They’ll have a long wait until Sunday after losing to Duke tonight in the ACC quarterfinals. Had Colson been alright they probably don’t have a seven game losing streak in the middle of the season. The committee has a tough decision with them because with Colson this is a tournament team.
Butler Bulldogs (19-12, 9-9) - Butler is the only team aside from Purdue that is probably safe. If they can beat Seton Hall tonight in the Big East Tournament they will likely move to “lock” What helps them is a 9-9 record in a tough conference that is highly rated in the RPI. That has them in the 7-10 seed range, which happens to be where they do the most damage.
Indiana Hoosiers (16-15, 9-9) - Indiana went 1-3 against the state, losing all three home games to Indiana State, Butler, and Ft. Wayne. They did at least beat Notre Dame when Colson was healthy, which is one of many reasons that this team was enigmatic. They lose by 20+ at home to Fort Wayne and Indiana State, but took Purdue, Michigan State, and Duke to the final minutes.
In State records
Purdue 4-0 (Beat Valparaiso, Butler, IUPUI, and Indiana)
Ball State 4-0 (Beat Indiana State, IUPUI, Notre Dame, and Valparaiso)
Fort Wayne 1-0 (Beat Indiana)
Indiana State 4-2 (Beat Indiana, Evansville twice, and Valparaiso, lost to Valparaiso and Ball State)
Evansville 2-2 (Beat Valparaiso twice, lost to Indiana State twice)
Indiana 1-3 (beat Notre Dame, lost to Fort Wayne, Indiana State, and Purdue)
Valparaiso 1-5 (beat Indiana State, lost to Indiana State, Evansville twice, Ball State, and Purdue)
Butler 0-1 (lost to Purdue)
Notre Dame 0-2 (lost to Indiana and Ball State)
IUPUI 0-2 (lost to Ball State and Purdue)
Sadly, with Evansville missing the tournament we cannot play them this year and get winning streak going over every in-state team. We also have no battle with Ball State for in-state supremacy.