Is Indiana Back on the College Basketball Map?

Is Indiana back on the college basketball map? Photo: BMV Sports
(Photo Credit : BMV Sports)

Veteran Led Squad

Many players that are as skilled as big man Trayce Jackson Davis would leave for the NBA Draft as soon as possible. Though Davis is an outlier, he values team success before his own and wants to make an impact on Indiana basketball. He is one of the main reasons for Indiana being where they are, ranked inside the top 25 in the associated press poll, but not the only reason.

Freshmen phenom Jalen Hood-Schifino has been lights out, looking like a lottery pick in the upcoming NBA Draft, as he is averaging 12.8 points a game while piling in 4 assists and rebounds a game in the gauntlet schedule Indiana has had. You also can’t forget about Xavier Johnson, who is injured at this moment, which makes this run by the Hoosiers even more impressive on paper.

All in all, whether it is Davis, Hood-Schifino, Johnson, Miller Kopp, Malik Reneau, or Tamar Bates, Indiana has the roster to put it all together under second-year head coach Mike Woodson. But has Indiana reached a level where fans and college basketball fans can say Indiana is back on the college basketball map as a top 10 team?

Rankings and SOS

Indiana ranks 43rd in Strength of Schedule up to this point, but that looks worse than it should given that the Big Ten is down this year against years past, only having two teams ranked, both of them being from Indiana. Indiana’s strength of schedule was a gauntlet some would say, scheduling what I would say is a top 10 non-conference slate.

They played Xavier, who at the time was unranked and are now ranked 16th in the country. They got rid of the crosstown classic with Notre Dame, Purdue, and Butler, and instead, played Arizona and Kansas on a neutral court, ultimately losing both and it wasn’t very close.

If that was not enough for you, they played the North Carolina Tar Heels, who at the time were number 18th in the country at the assembly hall. That win now looks like a decent win and nothing more, but that could turn around if history repeats itself for Hubert Davis and the Heels from last year, as they started off slow and went on a run to the NCAA Championship game against Kansas, ultimately losing.

Indiana ranks 21st at KenPom, 22nd at Net, 25th in adjusted offensive efficiency, 39th in adjusted defensive efficiency, and 118th in adjusted tempo in the country. They are uninspired 2-6 in quad one and 4-1 in quad two.

The Case for Indiana as a Top 10 Team

If Indiana is a top-10 team, that’s something that could be debatable if this run continues. As it stands right now, they are more of a top 20-25 team. They have the 41st most quad one win at two, which is nothing to talk about too much there. Both their offense and defense are ranked in the top 50 in the country, they have a preseason All-American and Big Ten first Team favorite in Davis and they have one of the best freshmen in Hood-Schfinio, who will be Big Ten freshman of the year and on the first team.

On top of that, they have the best home-court advantage in the Big Ten and the top five in the nation at Assembly Hall. When that team is clicking, the opponent will not be able to hear anything, the fans at Assembly are something else!

Now you might ask what’s the case for them not being a top 20-25 team? Losses to Penn State, Maryland, Rutgers, Iowa, Kansas, and Arizona. Kansas and Arizona’s losses hurt because they are top 10-15 teams, so for Indiana to be considered to be a team in that next tier, they would have needed to prove that and they failed to do so.

Yes, things change from December to February, but let’s not act like any of those two teams have lost a huge step, which would look bad for Indiana on their resume if anything. Indiana basketball might be back for now, but fans are still waiting for the Bob Knight days and that might be closer than they think, only time will tell. The future is bright in Bloomington. As of right now, though, Indiana is not a top-10 team. They are more of a top 20-25 team if they hold their own in the Big Ten.

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