BLOOMINGTON – Indiana got most of what it wanted when the NCAA mens basketball tournament bracket was unveiled Sunday night.
The Hoosiers landed a No. 1 seed for the third time in program history and start close to home in Dayton. What IU didnt get was a path to the Final Four going through Indianapolis.
Indiana ended up as the No. 3 overall seed and is the top team in the East Regional, which goes through Washington, D.C. The Hoosiers will start play in the tournament Friday in Dayton.
IU coach Tom Crean and the players were not worried about not getting to play in Indianapolis.
I think the fact that we are a No. 1 seed speaks for itself, Crean said. There are only four of them, and we are one of them. I think that is a big deal.
The Hoosiers (27-6) will play the winner between Wednesdays first-round game in Dayton between LIU Brooklyn (20-13) and James Madison (20-14).
If it wins Friday, Indiana will face the winner between No. 8 North Carolina State and No. 9 Temple.
We are definitely very excited because we havent seen anyone outside of the Big Ten in a while. Its fun just to be playing someone else, IU forward Cody Zeller said.
(On the CBS broadcast), they said James Madison is a very old team with three or four guys that are fifth-year seniors and very methodical in what they do. LIU Brooklyn is a very quick team, that gets up and down and scores a lot of points. It seems like contrasting styles.
Louisville was the No. 1 overall seed and is the top seed in the Midwest Regional, which goes through Indianapolis. The other No. 1 seeds were Kansas, which was No. 2 overall and will play in the South Regional, and Gonzaga, which is No. 4 overall and the top seed in the West Regional.
It was a good feeling, IU guard Jordan Hulls said of being one of the No. 1 seeds. We felt that we were worthy of that based on the year that we had. We got to just enjoy the moment right now and just get ready for whatever comes at us.
The Hoosiers likely lost their chance at being a No. 1 overall seed and playing in the Midwest by losing three of their last six games. Indiana lost on the road to Minnesota and at home to Ohio State in the regular season, and it fell to Wisconsin in the Big Ten tournament semifinals on Saturday.
Its unfortunate we lost the other day, we didnt want to do that. Weve got to get things fixed, IU guard Victor Oladipo said. Weve got to get back to playing Indiana basketball the right way, keeping our edge and staying together.
The Hoosiers were also a top seed in 1987 and 1993.
IU won the national championship in 1987, beating Syracuse 74-73 in the title game. Indiana lost in the Elite Eight to No. 2 seed Kansas 83-87 in 1993.
We were very happy to see the No. 1 seed, IU forward Christian Watford said. Any time you can do that, I think it has only been done three times in Indianas history. It is a great accomplishment. We are just ready to play.
The Hoosiers were a No. 4 seed in last years NCAA tournament, and this years selection show had a different feel for IU, which watched the show in private instead of with the media as it did last year.
(The players) were much looser. They were much more engaged and not concerned about cameras being in front of them, Crean said of the difference watching the show this year. I think it was greater this year because we didnt come up first like we did a year ago in that first segment.
In last years tournament, Indiana scored wins over New Mexico State (79-66) and VCU (63-61) before falling to eventual champion Kentucky 102-90 in the Sweet 16 in Atlanta, where the Final Four will be held this year.
You can take a little bit from it, but its a whole new year, different teams, different place, different area, but it is the same feeling, Oladipo said of building off last year. The excitement, the sense of urgency and things like that, its the NCAA tournament – theres nothing like it.