Way too early analysis of Indiana’s NCAA Tournament chances

It’s a bit early for this post, admittedly. But it’s come to my attention, especially in our comments section, that many Indiana fans are questioning whether the Hoosiers are still even worthy of an NCAA Tournament bid. Expectations have changed due to Indiana’s start to the season, and now, those expectations include a berth in the Big Dance. But are those justified?

So for those who are wondering where Indiana stands, here’s a quick look:

RPI: 21
CONFERENCE RPI
: 1
STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE: 27th in the nation
BIG WINS:
Kentucky (4th in RPI), Ohio State (5th in RPI), Michigan (15th in RPI), N.C. State (58th in RPI), Notre Dame (68th in RPI)
BAD LOSSES:
Nebraska (96th in RPI), Minnesota (59th in RPI)
FULL LOSS ANALYSIS:
Michigan State (11th in RPI), Ohio State (5th in RPI), Wisconsin (18th in RPI), Michigan (15th in RPI).

So for those wondering, the wins and losses breakdown like this: Indiana is 3-4 against the RPI Top 50, 5-6 against the RPI Top 100, and 12-0 against anyone outside of the RPI Top 100.

The NCAA Tournament Selection Committee tends to look down upon losses outside of the RPI Top 100, and if Indiana can avoid a loss at Iowa (118th in RPI) and against N.C. Central (285th in RPI) at home, then the Hoosiers will go a full season completely unscathed by “bad” losses. Nebraska may not remain in the RPI Top 100 for the entire season, and that could harm the Hoosiers somewhat. But overall, the RPI breakdown works in Indiana’s favor at this time.

So why the concern? If you were to scatter Indiana’s recent losses over the course of the entire season – instead of looking purely at the fact that the Hoosiers have lost five of their last seven – then Indiana’s resume looks like that of a top five team in the Dance. A 13-1 record at home, wins against the top two ranked teams in the country – that’s nothing to slouch at. And don’t forget how much respect the Big Ten has received this year. That will most definitely play into the decision to give the conference at least seven bids (in my opinion), come March.

Going forward, Indiana’s schedule gets significantly easier, with only one remaining game on the schedule marked as an expected loss by KenPom.com. And unless Indiana were to completely fall apart down the stretch, the Hoosiers should finish with eight to nine victories in the Big Ten, the nation’s No. 1 conference for RPI.

So is the sky really falling? You be the judge.

38 comments

  1. Thanks for putting things in perspective, Ryan.

    Totally unrelated, I started to make a reference to Mark Haymore in a post recently recently. For you youngsters, Mark was a walk-on on the ’76 undefeated team. Rarely saw the floor. Before making said comment (basically about being an easily forgotten player) I thought I’d verify the info.

    Haymore was part of a freshman class at Indiana that included Larry Bird. While Bird left soon after enrolling, Haymore stayed two years and played on the Indiana team that beat Michigan 86-68 in the 1976 national championship game. A reserve, he scored two points and had a rebound in the title game. He averaged 1.7 points as a sophomore. I saw every game and it’s hard to imagine him having a scoring average that high. He almost never played.

    He transferred to UMass where he played for Jack Leaman and averaged 15.6 points over two seasons. He led the Minutemen with averages of 17.1 points and 10.0 rebounds in 1978-79.
    Haymore had the most points for UMass in a game in the 78-79 season, 31 against George Washington.
    That same year, his senior year, he led the team in FT percentage at .818.
    He led the team in FG percentage and rebounding average as a junior with .625 and 7.0 respectively, then again as a senior at .531 and 10.0.

    The .625 also led all of the Atlantic 10 conference. As for the Minutemen, it is the 3rd highest all-time, behind both Will Herndon’s .720 in 1991-92, and .632 in 90-91. Haymore’s .570 career FG percentage is only second to Herndon’s .646.

    He was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers (news) in the fifth round of the 1978 NBA draft and by the Cleveland Cavaliers (news) in the eighth a year later. He played professionally overseas.

    In December of 2004 Mark was found dead in his home. He was 48. He had apparently been dead a few days. The death is not considered suspicious as he had a history of heart illness.

    I thought I was looking up a player that never had much of a career. RIP, Mark Haymore.

  2. I suppose there is a case to be made as to why Jack Leaman got so much more out of him than RMK. We weren’t exactly a powerhouse his junior and senior years.

    I just thought it was some interesting info I didn’t know before investigating.

  3. Ryan- pretty deft statistical offering there. Great work. This has been an awesome year for an unheralded Hoosier team. Sure, they’ve come down to earth of late, but viewed in perspective, things look pretty nice.

  4. As many of you have seen I am one of the doubters. Ryan makes a great case for our team in this post. All of you like me who don’t miss a game have seen two totally different teams this year. The team that had confidence and knew they were gonna win before they played and the team you see now. A team that has no leadership, confidence, direction or belief in theirselves. While I still think they will probably be in the tourney it will be a team with no momentum. I know the season is far from over and like all of you sit in front of my tv every game and say this is the game we turn it around, this is the game where we learn how to win on the road. Yes coach we know this team is still learning how to win. What does that mean exactly? We don’t need to learn to win we just need to remember how to win. We’ve done it. We were the 7th ranked team in college basketball this year. I just would like to know where that team went. That team deserved to be in the tournament. Not this shell of a team we have seen lately.

  5. ht,

    did you mean daft? either i’m too high or not high enough. we’re ranked 21st rpi, projected to have 9 or 10 conference losses by ryan’s reckoning, which would give us a 6th or 7th place finish. this is the resume of a “top 5 team in the dance”? “If you were to scatter Indiana’s recent losses over the course of the entire season”. Yeah, and if a frog had wings he wouldn’t bump his ass a-hoppin”.

    how are wins against notre dame and nc state good wins while losing to minnesota a bad loss? between this and dustin’s belief that the difference between shooting 37% and 31% is 60 percentage points, it’s no wonder math nerds are finding an unwelcome home in college basketball. kenpom my ass. offensive efficiency? suck it. how long until the nerds take over this site with their fantasy college basketball leagues?

  6. coachV- Pretty sure I meant ‘deft’. Ryan was looking at the issue as an NCAA committee member would, and he did a great job.

    Luckily, the committee tends not to be like many deranged message-board fans, who think the season is over because have only won 17 games and are in jeopardy of ‘only’ wining 20.

  7. coachv, you don’t think the 6th place team in the Big Ten is worthy of a 5 seed? I don’t think it’s unreasonable if you look at where they’ve seeded teams from the top conferences in the past. ACC fans like to talk about their winning percentage in the tourney but much of that is because all their qualifiers always get high seeds historically. Their second round, and beyond, winning percentage isn’t so hot after the big 2.

  8. The thing is that the direction of the team is clearly headed south. While we are losing games that we were expected to lose like at Wisconsin, we are also losing to teams that we should be beating at this point of our maturity. We are a very bad defensive team giving up tons of points to everyone in the league and only when we are scoring at an incredible clip ourselves to we manage to win.

    I don’t think this late in the season we are likely to change much. I think we are who we are now. These are great kids but either the system we are playing or their attitude on wanting to play hard on the defensive end is going to make this a frustrating finish. Yes the Big is a tough league but I think it will be difficult to get into the tourny if we are 3 games under 500 and that is where I think we will finish.

  9. Ryan, good stuff. I agree with basically everything you’re throwing at us here. If I were doing it I would have left the Bad Losses category empty… Both those games were conference road games. You started to allude to the fact that you didn’t think they were Bad Losses in a later paragraph, so I think you should have gone back and revised your Team Capsule. I wouldn’t consider losing at Iowa a Bad Loss either because, again it’s a B1G road game.

    It is imperative that we finish the season at least .500, because the committee definitely looks at how teams finish their last 10 games. That is a category you didn’t put up, but if you had it would be interesting bubble fodder.

    Last 10 Games: 5-5

    Not terrible, and certainly not enough to exclude them, but I think if it gets worse then they are firmly on the bubble and hopefully our good wins can pull us over the top.

  10. chet,

    ryan didn’t say we had the resume of a top 5 seed. he said a top 5 team. unless we start playing better, i say we’ll end up 6-8. horrible offense with too much dribbling and one on one play is catching up with us. poor defense, as everyone has noted. has anyone noticed how often zeller has no vision on the ball as it’s being driven to the basket. by the time he turns around it’s too late. coach, where are the ball-you-man fundamentals?

    in a side note, B1G is a stupid marketing logo, not the name of our conference. still the big 10 people.

  11. Yeah, you’re right in that that was how he phrased it but I, also, can’t believe he meant we were a ‘top 5’ team. Maybe Ryan can clear that up for us. I assumed, despite his wording, he meant a 5 seed. He’s just a pup. These things happen.

    I’ve thought for a while now that, despite his antics with the ball, Verdell is grasping the ‘big picture’ that the staff is putting out there and others, whom most of us would rather see play, are just now figuring it out. That’s my hope, anyway. That being said, maybe it will ‘click’ this evening. Hope springs eternal.

    I agree about the logo. If I didn’t know the name going in that logo sure wouldn’t explain anything.

  12. If this team is what it has shown recently and isn’t going to change as mentioned above, then they probably finish 9-9 based on the schedule and they make the Tournament. I’ll take that and watch them build on this foundation next year.

  13. Our tournament resume is quite good. If the season ended today, the significant negatives would be a losing record in the Big10 and 5-5 in our last 10 games. Nebraska is a bad loss because they are borderline top 100. But more than that, it is a bad loss because it was a game we had no business losing and puts us in jeopardy of finishing below .500 in the Big 10. If we had won that game, we are not really on the bubble. As it stands, we need to win some games to get into the tournament. We probably make the field at 8-10 in the big ten. No way at 7-11. But 9-9 is definite and a decent seed.
    I think we will win today and we will win the next 4 games after that. We would need to win games at home here we will be clear favorite (Ill, NU, and NC Central) and pick up two road wins against Purdue (toss up at Mackey), and Iowa (we should be a slight favorite).
    That would set us up nicely for a three game stretch with winnable, but tough exciting games (at Minn, home against MSU and PU).

  14. coachv – not that this is news, but I disagree with you again. First, take what Ryan is saying in context. He is a UM fan… I don’t think he believe’s IU is a top 5 team, so he clearly means we are a potential 5-seed.

    We rarely have any one-one-one play because we don’t have anyone that can break down a defense. Verdell tries from time to time, so does Watford, but no one else goes unless they have a clear path. We are constantly doing dribble hand-offs and switching courts with the pass. One-on-one offense is the exception, not the rule.

    Zeller was lost on D last game against UM, but up until that point he had been tremendous. Not only does he come over for helpside, but he rarely fouls. He either blocks the shot, takes a charge, or maintains verticality. The biggest reason he had a bad game on wednesday was because those drives from Burke came off a high screen by Cody’s man who then rolled down the lane. Cody would show and then sprint back to recover, but Burke was turning the corner, beating his own man and then running up Cody’s back. It wasn’t good D, but it wasn’t Crean’s fault. It’s the first time that scenario had happened all season. When Cody had a chance to see where the drive was coming from, a la the two late baseline drives, he was able to effectively help. Unfortunately the kick-outs led to 2 mades 3’s, but again not Cody’s fault – he didn’t allow a lay-up by the driver, a dunk from his man, and he didn’t foul.

    I really don’t care about the Big Ten logo, but I’m pretty sure that you know what we’re saying when we write B1G, which takes up less space and is recognizeable… So it serves a purpose, whether you like it or not.

  15. Tell you what, Geoff, I’d love to go to a game with you and I think I know more than most people but I’m not in your league. If you ever want in depth analysis of a wrestling match, I’m your man. Much like basketball, there’s a lot more going on than most people realize.

    Anyway, nice stuff. I know some folks give you heat but I, for one, appreciate your analysis.

    Yours, too, coachv. Snark and all.

  16. The comments above repeat a common fallacy about the NCAA selection committee’s judgment criteria (and the original post seems to imply it): that the “last ten games” count more than earlier games.

    They do not. With respect to when games are played, no game or series of games are more important than any other. And it’s not a case of “yeah, but…” or “they say that, but…” The nature of the selection process makes it virtually impossible for the issue to become relevant.

    IU’s tournament resume on Selection Sunday will be that of a relatively high seed.

    That would be true even if Kartje’s prediction of IU’s conference record proves true. I highly, highly doubt they win fewer than ten.

  17. Geoff this is for you (Take it for what it’s worth) I ran into Charlie Miller about an hour ago at a popular watering hole in Evansville. I went over and bought him a drink and we started talking IU. I ask him in his opinion why we aren’t playing good basketball along with a lot of other issues I feel we have with our team. He sat his drink down and said “The reason IU is ranked 7th in the B10 is one reason,(so help me god what im getting ready to say is the absolute truth) Because we have the worst back court in the country!” Now im sure people will have claimed to have met hoosier players in the past and what they had they say and no one believes them just like im sure no one believes me but I swear it happened! Now like I said take it for what it’s worth but we have gone back and forth all year about our back court and im glad a fellow IU player agrees with me!

  18. HfKY, i totally believed that happened. I also believe he said that. However, if either one of you think that IU’s backcourt is worse than Binghamton’s you’re high… if you think it’s worse than Howard’s you are high… if you think it is worse than Evansville’s then why did we beat them by 21 points and our guards absolutely destroyed theirs? Would you honestly rather have Nored and Stigall from Butler? Not me…

    Hey I’m sure that Charlie Miller knows his hoops, but I know a lot of guys that I have played with that are a lot better athletes than me – bigger, faster, can jump out of the gym, can handle the rock, and if you throw them in any game can compete, but don’t understand the game very well. I know guys that play pro ball right now that I refuse to put on my Men’s league roster when they come back into town because, although big and talented with good pedigree, just don’t get it. All I’m saying is Charlie Miller wouldn’t be the first D1 player who doesn’t know much about the nuances of the game.

    Sounds like an emotional statement by him, not a logical one.

  19. Im sure he just like I exaggerated the worst in the nation but you get our point. Or should anyway. No biggie Let’s just beat Purdue!!

  20. Yeah, I get your point and I agree it has some deficiencies. I don’t even think its the “worst” in the B1G, but I would say it’s near the bottom in effectiveness.

    I think part of it is the offense doesn’t work with their strengths, and of course part of it is that they have real limitations. I just think Crean is trying to implement his system for the future, whether or not it works great right now is less of a concern. He probably has a timeline with little check points along the way. I am sure that what they’ve done this year has probably met those little goals, and they have a couple more to go. My guess is that if he wanted to change things up he could implement an offense that would really work with Jordy’s strengths, and who knows about Jones. I don’t think he has any strengths, but he could put him in situations where he could be more effective. I guess we’ll know in a couple years if he’s running the same stuff with better players.

    Either way, you’re right… Beat Purdue…

  21. As some of you have assumed, I meant a top five “seed”, not a top five “team”. Don’t worry, I’m not crazy.

  22. Bottom line is, even if we make the tournament, we will loose the first round game because we can’t win anywhere but at home. So until we learn to win away from home, any thoughts of a tournament appearance is a exorcise in futility soon to be followed by a early trip back to Btown and thoughts of what might have been.

  23. jeff,

    i’ve been paid to coach this game for 20 years so i’m pretty sure i know one on one play when i see it. btw, you’re spelling your name wrong.

    chet,

    that’s the first time anyone said anything remotely nice to me. i think i just felt something move. down there.

    my point guard son has just verbaled for iu. class of 2029. mark it down.

  24. Implementing his system for the future is right with 1 addition, this year he has a few players that have some talent for the system.

  25. HC I agree .. I think it’s great that we we have added some new guys for next year from the current pool of players. Remy …. I watched Yogi last night against Brebuf and I thought, he is not going to move right into the starting lineup. He played a 2/3 defense, but he needs to man up on the man to man in the Big Ten and I don’t see stalling Appling, Frazier,Kraft…. Yogi It’s great you are heading our way.

  26. Btw, saying I spell my name wrong is like telling a chap from London that he speaks English with a weird accent…

  27. PU on road was helpful. Final B1G stretch is not terribly difficult. Win games u should at home, maybe sneak a road win, and just maybe have one more big W left in us v MSU. Yes it’s best case but would certainly make impressive tourney resume. MI and WI on road were disappointing but we competed so not failures by any means.

  28. It all depends on what IU actually does in the remaining 7 games! But Indiana is 18-6, 6-6 in the B1G, with 5 games at home (where IU is 13-1) and only 2 on the road against MN and Iowa (where IU is 4-5, with 1 neutral site win against ND). If Indiana can hold the line at 6 B1G losses, then 3rd place (possibly with a tie) looks good. The B1G is the strongest conference; teams like UNLV, Creighton, San Diego St, St Mary’s, Gonzaga, etc. do not play any top 50 type teams after January, and still manage to lose games (i.e. UNLV, Creighton last night). So my early guess is 1 seeds-KY, Syr, OH St, NC; 2 seeds-Baylor, Duke, MO, MI St; 3 seeds-KS, FL, Georgetown, Murry St; 4 seeds- IU, WI, MI, FL St. There is a lot of basketball yet to be played. But IU is IN the dance!

  29. I agree with Charlie Miller’s hyperbole.Our backcourt is what kills us.Look how much better our defense was with Remy !Hulls and Verdell can’t stop penetration.As to our tournament chances,we are in.and personally I think we might do very well when we can get away from the hopeless Big 10 officiating.We out played Wisconson,played exceptionally well there.We lost at Nebraska,but honestly couldn’t get a call in the last 5 minutes.Beyond that,only Minn.was a game we should not have lost.Yes our defense is weak,we have flaws ,but we are an exceptional offensive team.Now if we can just keep verdell on the bench….

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