Indiana’s devastating defeat at the hands of Michigan State on Saturday afternoon at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall had the feel of a season-ender.
The Hoosiers went from totally in control against an uncharacteristically floundering Spartans squad in danger of missing the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1997 to totally out of control. They found themselves unable to do anything to stop junior guard Aaron Henry, the former Ben Davis High School star, and a 19-6 first-half lead turned into a 78-71 loss.
From an NCAA Tournament resumé perspective, it was one of the Hoosiers’ worst losses of the season. A home defeat against an MSU squad ranked No. 81 in the NET rankings, it counts as the Hoosiers’ second Quadrant 3 loss of the season with the other being their December loss at home against Northwestern. After an uplifting win over Minnesota last Wednesday, the Hoosiers fell from No. 42 to No. 52 in the NET rankings. The Hoosiers are now 12-10 overall with a 7-8 Big Ten record.
It’s additionally painful because it might have been Indiana’s best chance at another win this regular season. The Hoosiers have four games left on the schedule — at Rutgers Wednesday at 8 p.m., at home against No. 3 Michigan Saturday at noon, at Michigan State on March 2 and at Purdue on March 6. They have already lost at home against the Scarlet Knights, Spartans and Boilermakers, and had it not been for the Wolverines’ month-long COVID-pause, they probably would have lost to them as well. KenPom.com still considers Indiana a modest favorite to beat the Spartans at the Breslin Center with a 55 percent chance of victory despite Saturday’s result. In the other three games, KenPom gives the Hoosiers a less than 40 percent chance. Lose all four and they’ll be under .500 overall and will play themselves out of tournament contention.
But at the moment, the Hoosiers are still in the brackets of several experts, if only just barely.
Mike DeCourcy of the Sporting News, who does bracket work for Fox Sports, has the Hoosiers getting in as a No. 11 seed and playing No. 6 Tennessee.
Shelby Mast, who does bracket work for USA Today, does have the Hoosiers as one of the last four teams out of the tournament.
Bracket Matrix.com, which combines 100 online bracket experts to determine each team’s composite position, still has the Hoosiers as a No. 11 seed and within the field of 87 of the 100 brackets surveyed. However, several of those brackets were constructed before Saturday’s game. Among others, Joe Lunardi of ESPN.com and Brian Bennett of The Athletic usually post their brackets on Tuesdays.
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