Indiana as the Big Home Underdog

Back in November when Indiana hosted Duke many were shocked to see the Hoosiers as such a big underdog at home.  IU fans may need to sit down, because we suspect that they will see an even bigger point spread over the next couple days when the Purdue line comes out.  We are by no means betting experts (if there even is such a thing), but we’d expect that Purdue might be a double digit favorite.

So that got us thinking — what is IU’s track record as a big home underdog?  We went back to 2001 and looked for games where Indiana was at least a 5 point underdog.  We excluded Tom Crean’s first 3 years since we see those years as outliers.  Here’s what we found:

Seeing this brings to mind a lot of memories for IU fans — of big wins and raucous Assembly Hall environments.  Two of Indiana’s three home upsets of number one teams are on the list including of course the Wat Shot.  There’s also another memorable Duke game from 2005 that the Hoosiers eventually lost.

There’s also the 2004 Sean May/North Carolina game.  Those Tar Heels went on to win a national title.  There’s the win over number 2 Ohio State in 2011 (IU would beat No’s 1, 2 and 3 that year).  Don’t forget the 2005 overtime upset of Michigan State where Bracey Wright scored 32.  And who could forget the Kirk Haston buzzer beater to take down the Spartans in 2001?

Although not included in our list since the game was technically not a home game, our search also brought up a 2005 dominant victory over a Rajon Rondo led Kentucky team just a couple weeks after the Duke game, in Indianapolis.  Indiana won that one by 26 (79-53) despite being an 8 point underdog– a 34 point difference.  People in Vegas were probably fired over that one.

So what if any conclusions can you draw from these games?  We’ll give you a few:

  • Indiana is 4-4 in these games.  That’s pretty good when considering the spread, and speaks to the energy that an IU home crowd can deliver and how the players can feed off of it.
  • It is pretty impressive to only be a five point or more home underdog 8 times over a 15 season span.  That’s once every other year — and these haven’t been the Indiana golden years by any stretch.
  • If you care about such things, IU and the points have been good 5 of 8 times.
  • Sometimes the talent gap is just too wide.

Sunday will be interesting.  In all but one of these games Indiana has at least put a scare into their opponents.  Purdue on the other hand has won their last two Big Ten road games by an average of nearly 30 points.  They are going to be looking to run out to a big early lead and take the crowd out of the game.

It feels like the 3-point line might decide the outcome, especially if IU tries to take away Isaac Haas and his decided size advantage.  Indiana is going to need a strong shooting afternoon and it is going to need to hold Purdue in check from behind the arc.  Unfortunately, thus far this year the Hoosiers haven’t been able to do either of those things with any measure of consistency.

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