LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — There were 108 projected NCAA Tournament brackets posted at www.bracketmatrix.com this week.
On Thursday, 99 of the 108 listed Indiana as a tournament team, despite the fresh stench of the Hoosiers’ recent seven-game losing streak.
With Bernard Muir of Stanford, the chairman of the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee, watching from courtside, Indiana continued to live dangerously and likely recklessly Thursday night at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.
The Hoosiers lost to Iowa, 77-72, tumbling to their third conference defeat at home, while slumping to 13-10 overall and 4-8 in the Big Ten.
BracketMatrix is unlikely to be as forgiving in its next update.
Sooner or later the Hoosiers will have to stop pointing at their victories over Marquette, Louisville and Butler (and even Michigan State) and start beating more teams that an NCAA Tournament team is supposed to beat at home.
Even though the Hawkeyes are ranked 20th and have now won 18 games, Iowa wasn’t good enough to beat Michigan State, Purdue or Minnesota away from Iowa City.
They were good enough to beat Indiana in Bloomington because they hit 10 of 25 three-point shots and lead for nearly 37 minutes.
If you were making a list of players that Archie Miller could immediately plug into his roster and energize IU’s attack, you could select two Iowa guys and nobody in Assembly Hall would quarrel.
One is Jordan Bohannon. The other is Joe Wieskamp.
Bohannon is generously listed at 6 feet 1. Wieskamp is only a freshman. Neither earned much hysteria from the recruiting gurus. Wieskamp was ranked the 60th best player in the Class of 2018 by 247Sports. Bohannon was No. 312 in 2016.
They can’t out-run defenders. They can’t out-jump defenders. They can’t out-muscle defenders.
They can shoot defenders into extended nausea.
That is what Bohannon and Wieskamp did to Indiana, contributing 9 of the 10 shots that coach Fran McCaffrey’s team made from distance. As a dynamic duo, they were 9 for 14 — Bohannon 5 for 8 and Wieskamp four of six. Bohannon taunted Miller's team with two shots from deep at the end of the first half -- and two more in the final 91 seconds of the second half, the second from downtown Ellettsville.
"Bohannon made an unbelievable step-back on Al (Durham) midway in the second half late in the shot clock," Miller said.
Shooters do that.
Blend in the five free throws that Bohannon made in the final 17.1 seconds and the Hoosiers failed to get closer than three points over the entire second half.
Credit Bohannon with 25 points, three more than Indiana’s leading scorer, freshman Romeo Langford. The Hawkeyes also had the better inside player. Tyler Cook outscored Juwan Morgan, 21-17.
For Indiana, the problems are the problems. You don’t need to be a graduate of Bob Knight’s basketball coaching class to diagnose them. They’ve been the problems for nearly every one of Indiana’s 10 defeats — and even a few of their victories.
Slow starts — Iowa led 9-2 before Martha the Mop Lady had finished her final note.
Turnovers -- Even Miller noted that saying, "19 points off turnovers probably hurt us more than anything but give them credit. They are really hard to guard and it showed tonight."
Erratic three-point shooting — Miller’s team missed six of its first eight shots from distance, including four straight as Iowa pushed its lead to 26-18.
The Hawkeyes outscored Indiana by nine points from distance, as Miller’s team made 7 of 21, better than its average in Big Ten play.
Lukewarm defense — missing threes can happen but if you’re allowing the opponent to punish you from distance you’re going to have issues. Indiana had issues, allowing Iowa to make 7 of its first 16, including four in a row by Wieskamp.
If the Iowa game was not a Must Win, the game Indiana plays Sunday qualifies in that category. The Hoosiers host Ohio State, which has rallied to win three of its last four after losing five in a row.
The Buckeyes are also no lock to make the NCAA Tournament. But IU and Ohio State are only scheduled to meet once during the regular season, and the Hoosiers will take a number behind the Buckeyes if they fail to deliver on their homecourt.
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