They are right. These rankings are way too early. We shouldn’t even acknowledge them. But when national folks are clearly just taking last year’s rankings and layering on some quick notes about recruits and transfers, well, we can stay silent no more!
CBS Sports is the latest to take a shot at a so-called “way too early” men’s college basketball Top 25. NBC had something similar a couple days ago. IU was not included in either set of rankings.
The main problem with even attempting rankings at this point is that there are so many question marks related to the NBA draft. Indiana of course has one of those questions with regard to Juwan Morgan. But under the assumption that Morgan is returning, we see Indiana as a clear preseason top 25 team.
Now don’t get us wrong, we aren’t predicting Big Ten titles. Nor are we suggesting that you go out a buy Final Four tickets. We are, however, quite comfortable saying this is a top 5 Big Ten team with Sweet 16 potential. We don’t see 25 teams better on paper right now.
Here is what those national guys are missing with their quick fly-over:
YEAR TWO OF ARCHIE BALL
There is no denying that a 16-15 record in Archie Miller’s first season at the helm of IU left no one in awe. There is also no denying that a slow start for a first year coach is fairly common. No one doubts that Miller has the coaching pedigree.
It was abundantly clear to anyone watching with an ounce of basketball knowledge that the 2017-18 Hoosiers took some time to comprehend Miller’s system, especially the pack-line defense. That’s why you had games like Indiana State and Fort Wayne. There was clear improvement over the course of the season. That improvement didn’t trend up in a straight line, but it was undeniable.
Now with several guys returning with a year under his system and a much more talented roster (see below), we don’t expect the same false starts.
THAT TOP 10 RECRUITING CLASS IS UNDERRATED
Two words: Race Thompson. The national guys don’t know who he is now. They will. Thompson was a top-100 four-star recruit that reclassified into the class of 2017 and red-shirted this past season with Indiana.
Archie Miller spoke highly of his work ethic and development on several occasions. You don’t have to believe Miller, you can see it for yourself. Thompson may be coming in as a freshman eligibility wise, but he isn’t coming in as your typical freshman.
Quite simply, if Race Thompson were included in the national recruiting class rankings, the Hoosiers would be ranked higher.
You can test this on 247 Sports with their class calculator. We added a similarly ranked 4-star power forward (Pete Nance) to IU’s 2018 class, and the Hoosiers moved up two spots to #7 nationally on the overall 247 Sports Composite. The addition would also give IU the best recruiting class in the Big Ten, with a slight edge over Maryland.
LENGTH AND DEPTH
We’ve already written this story, so we won’t go back through it in great detail. But quite simply, this is going to be one of the longest and deepest Indiana rosters in recent memory. Last year IU had guys playing out of position, and without naming names, guys that probably shouldn’t be playing in the Big Ten saw the floor regularly.
There will be none of that this year. Every single guy on this roster is Big Ten caliber in some capacity. There are going to be some serious battles for playing time and some serious hard feelings in the group that doesn’t get off the bench. All of that competition is going to make this team much, much better.
JUSTIN SMITH IS A RISING STAR
This is the guy that everyone is sleeping on next year. Did you know that Smith averaged 15 points and 4.5 rebounds per game over the last 4 games of the Big Ten regular season while shooting 63% from the field in those games? Neither did the national college basketball writers. He may have to wait another year, but Smith has All Big Ten capabilities.
DE’RON DAVIS WILL BE BACK
It isn’t clear at this point whether Davis will have to be eased back in after suffering an Achilles tendon injury, but IU will have its starting center back next year. How many national prognosticators even realize that he missed virtually the entire Big Ten season?
With IU’s reconstructed roster, his role might be different next year, but having a 6-foot-10 guy that has a knack for finishing around the basket can never be a bad thing.
Oh, and if you prefer 6-foot-10 guys that shoot 3-pointers above 40 percent, the Hoosiers will have one of those too.
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