CHICAGO -- Indiana's never-in-doubt 80-64 victory over Illinois early Friday here at the United Center in the Big Ten quarterfinals provided the Hoosiers with a ninth top-50 win. More important, it basically guaranteed they'll be in no position to take a bad loss before or on Selection Sunday. So a No. 1 seed in the Field of 68 should be secured regardless of what happens going forward.
"I would hope we've done enough," said Indiana coach Tom Crean, whose Hoosiers shot 44 percent in the first half, 65 percent in the second half and never trailed against Illinois thanks to, among other things, a 24-point, nine-rebound effort from sophomore star Cody Zeller. "I think when you have the league the way that it is and win it outright the way that we did, and I think one of the bigger things is the way we played on the road. The only home losses that Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State have [in the Big Ten] are to us. That says a lot because those are also good teams that could win a natonal championship. So I would hope that we have earned [a No. 1 seed]."
My opinion: Indiana has indeed.
The body of work is just going to be too strong.
The Hoosiers will get Wisconsin in Saturday's semifinals.
They'll obviously be cool if they win there. But even a loss will represent nothing more than a sixth top-50 loss to go with zero losses outside of the top 50, and, it should be noted, no other school in the nation currently projects to sit on Selection Sunday with at least nine top-50 wins and zero losses outside of the top 50. So go ahead and put a No. 1 beside the name Indiana. Yes, there are still two days till the bracket is announced. But the Big Ten's outright regular-season champions have already earned their spot.
(Video via Big Lead Sports)