BLOOMINGTON, IN - JANUARY 09, 2022 - the Indiana Hoosiers Men's Basketball team during the game between the Minnesota Golden Gophers and the Indiana Hoosiers at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington, IN. Photo By Andrew Mascharka/Indiana Athletics

Several national commentators believe IU basketball is now the preseason Big Ten favorite

Indiana fans have a tendency to gravitate to the extremes, and Friday was no different when a euphoria swept through Hoosier Nation after the news broke Trayce Jackson-Davis would be returning for his senior season.

The return of Indiana’s leading scorer and rebounder gives Indiana its deepest roster in a very long time.  The 2012-13 and 2015-16 Hoosiers may have been more talented at the top, but both squads lacked the kind of depth the 2022-23 edition of IU basketball appears to have.

But unlike those two prior Big Ten championship teams, next year’s IU squad does still have one burning question — will they be able to make perimeter shots and free throws at a high rate?  Indiana hasn’t had a top-200 3-point shooting team since 2016-17, and they haven’t had a top-250 free throw shooting team since that same season.

Despite its undeniable depth, Indiana ostensibly did not address its biggest weaknesses during the offseason.  Can they really contend for a Big Ten title without high-level shooting?

A consensus is forming that they have enough overall talent and defensive prowess to in fact be one of the Big Ten’s best in 2022-23.  In fact, many national commentators have IU as the preseason favorite as things stand.

Here is a sampling of what some prominent national voices had to say on Friday about the outlook for IU basketball.

Stadium’s Jeff Goodman was a vocal critic of the hiring of Mike Woodson a year ago, but he may have the most optimistic view right now when it comes to the potential for Indiana next season.  He ranked IU No. 9 nationally in his updated top-25, with no one above them from the Big Ten.

“Indiana star Trayce Jackson Davis will return to Bloomington,” Goodman wrote on Twitter.  “The Hoosiers might be the Big Ten favorites.”

The NCAA and Big Ten Network’s Andy Katz similarly holds IU in very high regard after the Jackson-Davis news broke.

“At this moment in time, prior to the June 1 NBA Draft withdrawal date, I’m going with Indiana No. 1 in the Big Ten, they’re leapfrogging Michigan State and Michigan,” Katz said in a video posted to Twitter. 

“Trayce Jackson-Davis could be the Big Ten player of the year. … Of course, we have to see what happens with Michigan with Moussa Diabate and Caleb Houstan, but still, at this moment, with TJD deciding to return to Indiana, I’m going with the Hoosiers at No. 1 in the Big Ten.”

CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein ranked Indiana No. 17 in his updated top-45 rankings for the 2022-23 season, and views the Hoosiers as a legitimate Big Ten title contender.

“Indiana has a legitimate chance next year to win its first Big Ten regular season title since 2016,” Rothstein wrote on Twitter.

ESPN’s Jeff Borzello similarly sees IU in the upper echelon of teams in the league.

“Trayce Jackson-Davis is back in Bloomington for another year. Mike Woodson has a Big Ten title contender — maybe the Big Ten favorite — on his hands,” Borzello wrote.

Legendary ESPN commentator Dick Vitale also thinks IU has become the preseason favorite to win the conference.

“Fantastic news for ⁦Indiana lovers as Trayce Jackson-Davis is coming back,” Vitale wrote on Twitter.  “The VBDI (Vitale Bald Dome Index) says at the moment (Indiana is the) No. 1 choice to win Big Ten followed very closely by Michigan.

The Big Ten Network’s Dave Revsine added to chorus.

“Wow – TJD news is huge for Indiana – clear cut Big Ten title contender,” Revsine wrote.

Fox Sports radio host Aaron Torres was yet another commentator who is putting IU on top.

“Indiana should enter next year as the favorite to win the Big Ten,” Torres said on his podcast.

If you prefer analytics, Bart Torvik’s early T-rank projections for the 2022-23 season place IU at No. 11 nationally and No. 1 in the Big Ten.

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