NCAA Tournament Bracketology – Midwest Region a battle of five Indiana teams vs. Kentucky

by Kent Sterling

Five Indiana teams have a shot to wipe that smug smile off John Calipari's face before his Wildcats get to Indianapolis.

Five Indiana teams have a shot to wipe that smug smile off John Calipari’s face before his Wildcats get to Indianapolis.

Indiana a #10 seed?  Wow.  That wasn’t the only surprise of the NCAA Tournament bracket, but it was the biggest to me.

Losing nine of their final 14 games with the five wins coming against Michigan, Minnesota, Northwestern, and Rutgers twice evidently meant nothing to the committee.  Good for Indiana, bad for teams that won games late in the season against tournament bound teams but were relegated to the NIT.

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Indiana will play Friday against #7 seed Wichita State, and likely bow out, but you never know in this deal.  As long as games remain – so does hope.  Can Indiana beat Wichita State?  Sure, and then Kansas will await.  Can Indiana shoot it well enough to beat the Jayhawks?  Why not.  I suppose.  I’m not bullish on Indiana because they don’t defend.

Hands down on close-outs, losing track of multiple guys when in a zone, and a lack of hustle in transition, Indiana has confounded me all season with poor defense.

Purdue’s resurgence was one of the great stories of the season.  Dead in the water in December after losses at Mackey to both North Florida and Gardner Webb, the Boilermakers found their collective mojo and began playing like Purdue as they won 12 Big Ten games, earning an #8 seed.

Matt Painter not only gets off the hot seat, but looks like a very happy guy with kids who are fighting for him.

In this lose and go home environment of the NCAA Tournament, Purdue has a couple of tough opponents if they want to get to the Sweet Sixteen.  First up is Cincinnati, and if the Boilers can get past a talented Bearcats team, undefeated Kentucky awaits.

It will take 40 minutes of outstanding play for Purdue to have a chance against Kentucky.  Having two seven-footers in A.J. Hammons and Isaac Haas is a plus for Painter, and Jon Octeus has been wonderful, but the road past Kentucky may run through Dakota Mathias’ ability to knock down threes.  Purdue is an interesting matchup for Kentucky in that they are built similarly, but Kentucky has superior athletes across the board.

To beat Kentucky, Purdue doesn’t need to be the better team – they just need to be better for 40 minutes.

Butler opens against a very talented team in Texas.  Interesting matchup between opposites.  Butler is well-coached with a roster of brothers.  Texas has Isaiah Taylor and Myles Turner at the point and the post, but have had difficulty playing well for long stretches.  The game they gave to Iowa State in the Big 12 Tournament showed them at their best and worst.

If Texas decides it wants to play 40 minutes, Butler will have trouble, but their is no evidence they’re capable of that level of focus.  If Texas gets off to a big lead, Butler fans should take a deep breath and relax.  Texas will likely revert to the mean.  That said, Butler needs to play smart and shoot it well to take advantage of the inevitable Texas lapses.

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Notre Dame is a #3 seed as a result of their remarkable ACC Tournament triumph, and a win against Northeastern is all but a given.  In the second round, the winner of Butler and Texas will await.  Jerkin Grant is a great guard, and the rest of the Irish roster is good enough.  Zach Auguste brings some size.

The Irish could wind up in the Sweet 16, but will need to beat Kansas to get to Kentucky.

Valpo gets a great draw with Maryland.  Don’t get me wrong – Maryland is talented enough with Dez Wells and Melo Trimble to run Valpo out of the gym, but they sure looked like a dysfunctional group in the Big Ten Tournament who might be ready to take that long dirt nap.  There was no joy in their play, and morose teams tend to be the upset victims in March.

The Indiana team with the best chance to knock off Kentucky is Purdue, and if that is the second round matchup in Louisville, it should be riveting stuff.

While the State of Indiana enjoyed a better draw with five teams in the field this year as compared to their shutout last year, it’s very possible that fans will need to root against Kentucky to retain interest in the Big Dance beyond the first weekend.

That will be enough for me.

11 thoughts on “NCAA Tournament Bracketology – Midwest Region a battle of five Indiana teams vs. Kentucky

  1. Jamie

    Kent – you are so eaten up with hate for UK its absurd. The best part of this bracket is that UK will (hopefully) get the opportunity to wax the floor with as many IN teams as they can. Sadly, I think only Purdue and ND get that treatment. I understand that UK gets hate because they are simply the best, but this team is simply not worthy of it. They do everything that a good, fundamental CBB team should do, and do it better than anyone while also staying out of trouble and getting good grades (3.1+). Also, this team is led by upperclassmen. What else does the CCB “fan” want from them?

    1. kentsterling Post author

      Contempt is different from hate. The Kentucky players are fine. No rancor toward them at all. For the methodology employed by Kentucky’s self-immersed oaf of a coach – I have no hatred, but contempt in abundance.

  2. Matterhorn

    Gregg Marshall arguably a leading candidate for the IU job gets to do a live interview on Friday. Lose to Crean and that pathetic defense and I want no part of him for a coach. Gonna be flat out ugly though. Shockers have the best point guard in the country and speed to stay with IU’s shooters. Crean lucks out again with injury to Hanner thus forcing him to play Holt. How can you not see that Holt is clearly a more skilled player than Perea, but hey that’s Tom for you. IU beats SMU when they don’t have best player, get lucky against Butler and hit like 75% of 3’s against Maryland that’s the only reason they are in tourney. It’s really a joke.

    1. j

      iu also lost 4 of their last five. that lone win came against a team they also lost to in that span. following the Maryland loss nick zeisloft said in a press conference: “weve been playing good ball lately.” WTF? I get the sense that the committee pegged wsu with a 7 seed and said “whats a neat matchup here?”

  3. DownTheStretch

    I hope our AD takes advantage of this opportunity to conduct a free interview with our opponent’s head coach. The IU budget can use a break after Tom racked up over 700k in travel expenses. Kent – is there any way to get the detail of those charges? The CPA in me is baffled at this bill. At $57cents/mile, it shouldn’t cost that much to make drives to Evansville, Indy, Ft Wayne, Chicago, or as it turns out friggin’ Missouri!!

    1. Pauly Balst

      Are Creans expenses available under a Freedom of Information Act request? His salary is available as a state employee. I would think if you spent some time on Google you could find out if it’s obtainable. I would guess it is. Keep in mind if you request it, and they don’t have to produce, it does not mean they will not. My sense is Fred Glass is a transparency kind of guy.

      That said, $700k figure sounds like it must contain something other than travel. Or a lot of private jet time. Where does the $700k come from? Valid question and concern from a CPA taxpayer.

  4. j

    Indiana is the 255th tallest team in ncaa
    wsu is the 275th tallest team

    —similarities end there

    wsu has the 298th ranking for tempo. possessions per game
    we all know crean prefers quantity over quality

    wsu is the 8th ranked team at not turning the ball over
    Indiana…well…quantity over quality.

    Indiana has great shooters
    wsu does not

    wsu methodically probes the defense with screens and ball movement looking for a weakness.
    Indiana dribble drives and weaves like a drunken driver.

    wsu only gives up 55 points per game.
    Indiana defense sucks.

    this is an interesting matchup to say the least. if Indiana misses shots this could be an absolute beating. on the other hand if Indiana hits shots and gets out to a sizeable lead it will force wsu to play virtually flawlessly due to their pace. in the end our defense is bad and that matters.

    I would like to say that emmit holt has been playing someserious bball. great work emmit.

  5. Warren in TN.

    I suppose it’s just in my nature to try and live by the teachings of my mother and father as best as I can. Lessons like “son, you don’t have to feel like you should look up to anyone, but here’s the most difficult part of the lesson : Don’t you ever – EVER – look down on anyone yourself.” Wise words from my father that I try to remind myself of everyday I continue to live on God’s green Earth.

    Also : If you don’t have anything good to say about someone, don’t say anything.” (from Mom, whom I am thankful lives on and for which I am extremely grateful that is in my life every single day.

    Which brings me to sports journalism and the environment of the internet in this day and age. Maybe it’s the nature of being anonymous that so many people say things and express opinions they wouldn’t do face to face with people. In other cases, we read on a daily basis the gripes and complaints from those that hold hatred and contempt in their hearts, and then the inevitable response from said readers of a likewise-held counter opinion and equal amount of disdain and contempt for those writers that express said opinions.

    Having said this, in turn, brings me back to why I started off with saying what I started with…. (and please, don’t read anything negative into what I have, and will continue, to say here… nothing personal meant to anyone, just an observation on life)

    I’d just prefer to live by the understanding that really good and honest, faithful and objective journalism, dedicated to the truth, is writing and stating facts devoid of any specific naming of names. Just simply putting out facts and well-reasoned thoughts so that the readers themselves can form an educated and unbiased/untainted opinion. At least, that’s what I learned from the great journalists I’ve known and what was taught to me in college.

    But I suppose it’s easier to write something and get a knee-jerk reaction, without having to put too much effort and thought into a discussion that begins and ends with holding things in contempt or hatred.

    Me, on the other hand, well, I just try to stay away from all that, hyperbole or not. If I do hold something or someone in contempt, I just quietly keep it to myself, stay respectful and address such things with facts and my best well thought out and reasoned opinions, and let the reader form their own.

    In fact, I really try to live by some other well-heeded words as well:

    “Love thy neighbor as yourself.”

    “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

    “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”

    Those are also very wise and worthwhile words to put into genuine action in one’s life, I’ve found. Life is too short to get consumed or give in to petty differences. Sure, we all have said and done things in life about which we don’t value much, and have disdain for. Yet, I’ve found it’s much more constructive to say and put into action the beliefs one has that runs counter to such views we hold, and in a genuinely respectful and positive manner, so as to make the world a better place.

    After all, I’ve always thought that the world is what we make of it.

    So, good luck to everyone in the tournament! May your teams be well-represented and have victory, and if they lose, take joy in your season regardless. I know that after seeing Kentucky go 34-0 this season, it can end at any time with great pride for a job well-done from my perspective. Sure, It would be a disappointment not to see them go 40-0. It also strikes me that other, more pertinent words come to mind, as has already been said by someone else…

    One of my favorite astronauts, Story Musgrave, once said : “When you don’t know the final outcome and you may not know where you’re gonna’ really end up, you focus on the journey, and that’s what carries you forward.”

    More wise words to live by, if you ask me.

    Peace and good luck with all in life my friends !

    – Warren in TN.


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