Indiana senior forward Christian Watford said he expected a difficult road in the NCAA Tournament.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Christian Watford had his feet planted on the three-point line and was ready with his answer when he was asked if the Indiana University basketball players were disappointed that Louisville, and not the Hoosiers, was named the top seed for the Midwest Regional in Indianapolis.
"I feel like we play better on the road anyway to be honest with you," Watford said Sunday after the 68-team field was announced.
We'll find out. The Hoosiers start their NCAA push Friday in Dayton, Ohio. If they win two games there, it's off to Victor Oladipo's hometown – Washington, D.C. – for the East Regional. U of L earned the top overall seed – with stops in Lexington and Indy.
The good teams figure out quickly that the talent and playing style of the team you're playing is more important than where you're playing. For a top seed, Indiana does not have a simple path to the regional semifinals.
They'll have to handle either James Madison or Long Island (Brooklyn) in their opener. James Madison won 20 games. LIU is making its third consecutive NCAA appearance. The Blackbirds know the drill.
To get to D.C., Indiana will then have to defeat either Temple or North Carolina State. The Owls have won 10 of their last 13 – and two of the losses were by a single point. They feature guard Khalif Wyatt, the leading scorer in the Atlantic 10 Conference. N.C. State is a young but talented team that has defeated Connecticut, Duke and North Carolina this season while winning 24 of 34 games.
The Wolfpack's a top offensive team with defensive issues. You can flip the script for Temple, which is expertly coached by Fran Dunphy.
"I expected our road to be kind of tough," Watford said. "That's how it's been since I've been here. Why would it change now?"
If Indiana pushes its way to Washington, the other top seeds in the East include two Big East teams (Syracuse, 4; Marquette, 3) and Miami, the two seed. The Hurricanes won the Atlantic Coast regular season and tournament titles. They're a sexy Final Four pick.
"I think that we're a Number One seed speaks for itself," IU coach Tom Crean said. "There's only four of them, and we're one of them."