By Dustin Dopirak —
The first week of February could go a long way in determining whether Indiana reaches the NCAA Tournament — due to be played entirely in its home state and partially in its own gym. The Hoosiers, currently ranked No. 47 in the NET rankings, are 9-7 overall and 4-5 in the Big Ten and get home games against Illinois (No. 5 in the NET) and Iowa (No. 6) on Tuesday and Sunday respectively. Winning even one of those games bolsters their standing considerably. Losing both is a significant opportunity lost and would put them at .500 overall and three games below .500 in conference play, which is not a formula for staying on the right side of the NCAA Tournament bubble.
For now, though, the Bracketologists say they’re still in, and their status actually improved slightly this week while the Hoosiers sat idle due to a scheduled mid-week bye and COVID-19 issues in the Michigan program that cancelled their Saturday game with the Wolverines in Ann Arbor. The Hoosiers find themselves as a No. 11 seed on most brackets, but not one of the last four at-larges, which would mean they would avoid a play-in game if the tournament started today.
Jerry Palm of CBS Sports has the Hoosiers a No. 11 seed in his bracket opening play against No. 6 Virginia with VCU, North Carolina, Stanford and Arkansas stuck in play-in games on the No. 12 line.
Mike DeCourcy of the Sporting News, who runs Bracketology for Fox Sports, also has the Hoosiers as a No. 11 seed matching up with No. 6 Kansas. His last four teams in play-in games on the No. 12 line are Duke, Stanford, Utah State and Georgia Tech.
Joe Lunardi of ESPN hasn’t updated his brackets for the weekend’s games yet, but going into them he had the Hoosiers as a No. 10 seed playing No. 7 Florida, which gives the Hoosiers significant space between themselves and the play-in games on the No. 12 line.
Brian Bennett of The Athletic posted his last Bracket Watch before the weekend’s games, but he also has the Hoosiers on the No. 11 line and set to play UCLA.
One bracket expert who does have the Hoosiers in a play-in game is Shelby Mast, who does bracket work for USA Today. Mast has Indiana at No. 12 and in a play-in with San Diego State. The other play-in game on his No. 12 line is between Colorado State and Stanford.
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