We promise we’ll stop with sharing college basketball preseason prognostications here in June, still more than five months away from the start of the season.
And further below, we’ll provide you with a cautionary tale.
But it continues to be amazing how the tide has turned for an Indiana program that was 16-10 in late February and on a five-game losing streak, and then seemingly on its way to the NIT after a lackluster first 28 minutes against Michigan at the Big Ten Tournament.
Just a few months later, we can’t find an outlook for the 2022-23 Hoosiers that places them outside of the top-20 nationally, or anywhere other than first place in the Big Ten.
As we shared yesterday, a major part of the story has been head coach Mike Woodson’s ability to retain the core of his roster while also assembling a top-10 recruiting class.
Of course another major element to the story is the lack of success by others in the Big Ten to keep their top talent. The league will see several stars chosen later this month in the NBA Draft. Jaden Ivey, Johnny Davis, Keegan Murray, Malaki Branham and E.J. Liddell are all likely first rounders. Kofi Cockburn, Trent Frazier, Caleb Houstan, Mousa Diabate, Trevion Williams, Brad Davison, Jordan Bohannon, Max Christie, and Ron Harper, Jr. are all out of the picture as well.
Following the passing of the June 1 deadline to exit the NBA Draft and return to college, several prominent national commentators expressed their views on Indiana’s outlook for 2022-23.
Writing for The Big Ten Network and March Madness, Andy Katz has the most optimistic outlook we’ve seen. He puts the Hoosiers at No. 7 in the country and first in the Big Ten.
“Trayce Jackson-Davis is ready for prime time to lead the Hoosiers to the top of the Big Ten,” Katz wrote.
Gary Parrish of CBS Sports, who famously derided Indiana’s hire of Mike Woodson a year ago has been forced to eat crow. He has IU at No. 16 now and the highest ranked Big Ten team.
“The Hoosiers’ ranking is based on Indiana returning the top three scorers from a team that made the NCAA Tournament – among them Trayce Jackson-Davis, who could be a candidate for Big Ten Player of the Year,” Parrish wrote. “Indiana’s recruiting class is ranked fifth nationally and highlighted by 5-star prospects Jalen Hood-Schifino and Malik Reneau.”
With IU at No. 11 nationally and best in the Big Ten, Stadium’s Jeff Goodman is another Woodson-doubting crow-eater.
“With Jackson-Davis returning to Bloomington, Mike Woodson and the Hoosiers have most of their key pieces back from an NCAA tourney team,” Goodman wrote. “They also added a couple of talented freshmen in Hood-Schifino and Reneau, but the key could be the development of guys like Galloway, Geronimo and Bates.”
Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports has IU at No. 13 and the top of the Big Ten as well. On Twitter he proclaimed IU as the Big Ten favorite.
Michigan was hit harder than any other program on Deadline Day. Lost two projected starters in Caleb Houstan and Moussa Diabate,” Rothstein wrote. “What does this mean? The Big Ten OFFICIALLY goes through Bloomington.”
Finally, Seth Davis of the Athletic also chimed in ($). He slotted in the Hoosiers at No. 12, and he also has IU as the league favorite.
“When Trayce Jackson-Davis came to Indiana as a freshman, most people thought he would stay just one or two years,” Davis wrote. “On May 20, Jackson-Davis decided to withdraw from the draft and return to Bloomington for his senior season. That means Indiana will return four starters from the team that won its NCAA Tournament First Four game over Wyoming before losing to Saint Mary’s. Mike Woodson is also bringing in three freshmen who were ranked in the top 100 in the 247Sports Composite — 6-5 guard Jalen Hood-Schifino, 6-8 forward Malik Reneau and 6-8 forward Kaleb Banks.”
BEWARE THE HOOSIERS OF 2016-17
Coming off an outright Big Ten title in 2016, Indiana was ranked No. 11 in the preseason AP media poll, and they worked their way up to No. 3 before falling out of the rankings in January for good, and completely missing the NCAA Tournament in March. IU star OG Anunoby suffered a season-ending injury, a top-20 recruiting class never really amounted to much, and the impact of the losses of Yogi Ferrell and Troy Williams were wildly underestimated.
In the end, the preseason hype was meaningless, and Tom Crean was fired.
Indiana may not have the point guard concerns that Crean’s last team had, but there are still questions. At the top of the list is lackluster 3-point shooting that has ostensibly not been addressed. And it should be noted, Indiana’s preseason status is as much about what other teams lost as it is what the Hoosiers have proven to this point.
If you prefer a more recent example, last year, certain prestigious folks in the media told us that Purdue and Michigan were the Big Ten favorites. They finished third and eighth respectively, combining for 15 conference losses. The predictions for both teams were based on returning talent and recruiting rankings — the same thing that is fueling the Indiana hype.
Sometimes returning mediocrity is just next year’s mediocrity, while sometimes players you weren’t expecting develop faster than others (See: Keegan Murray and Johnny Davis).
And sometimes recruits take longer than expected to have an impact.
So take all of this with a grain of salt right now.
But in the meantime, it is still okay to bask in a much rosier outlook than what seemed possible just a few months ago.
To see returning minutes, recruiting rankings and transfer rankings by team, GO HERE.
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