Indiana had a breakthrough last week with its double-overtime comeback win over Northwestern, which gave the Hoosiers back-to-back wins for just the fourth time this season, the second time in conference play and the first time since Jan. 4.
But the Hoosiers have at no point this season won three games in a row and that didn’t change Saturday in Columbus when they lost to No. 4 Ohio State. Therefore, their relationship to the NCAA Tournament bubble didn’t change much in a week. The Hoosiers are still on the right side of it, but not by much.
The Hoosiers were hurt by Penn State’s loss to Nebraska on Sunday, which knocked the Nittany Lions down to No. 39 in the NET standings and therefore made Indiana’s win over them at home on Dec. 30 no longer a Quad 1 win. The Hoosiers slipped to No. 51 in the NET rankings with their two wins over Iowa being their only Quad 1 victories against eight losses in Quad 1. They are now 5-0 in Quad 2. Northwestern’s continued slipping doesn’t help however. The Wildcats are No. 91 in the NET rankings and the Hoosiers’ loss to them a home is a Quad 3 loss.
This leaves the Hoosiers very much on the edge heading into this week’s home games against Minnesota and Michigan State, even more so than usual. Most bracketologists this week have Indiana playing in a play-in game.
Mike DeCourcy of the Sporting News, who does the bracketology work for Fox Sports, has the Hoosiers as a No. 12 seed and one of the last four-teams in, playing St. Bonaventure in one of the First Four games.
Jerry Palm of CBS Sports also has the Hoosiers as one of the last four in, playing in a First Four game for a No. 12 seed with Seton Hall.
Shelby Mast, who does the bracket work at USA Today, has the Hoosiers in the same position, just against a different team. He has Indiana matched up against St. Louis for a No. 12 seed.
Joe Lunardi of ESPN.com hasn’t updated his bracket for the weekend’s games yet, and his most recent effort shows just how much IU’s loss Saturday may have hurt its cause. He had the Hoosiers safely in as a No. 10 seed going into the weekend.
The same goes for Brian Bennett of The Athletic, who also had Indiana as a No. 10 going into the weekend.
All of this sets up a massive week for Indiana that could do much to determine the Hoosiers’ fate. Minnesota (No. 53) and Michigan State (No. 94) are both ranked lower than Indiana in the NET rankings, and since both games are at home they are not Quad 1 opportunities. However, Minnesota seems to be slightly safer in terms of its hopes to get in because it has four Quad 1 wins, and Michigan State still has its name recognition despite a brutal season and a enough talent to be able to pull the upset. The Hoosiers could be doomed if they go 0-2 and could be significantly safer if they win both games.
You can always stay up-to-date on the NET and latest bracket projections HERE.
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