One Indiana championship dream ended today as Kofi Cockburn swatted away a potential game-winning reverse layup by De’Ron Davis. Another began as the MMFAA (Make March Fun Again Association) Tourney Bracket was revealed.
The Hoosiers narrowly missed their first ever Big 10 Tournament Championship this afternoon, losing 67-66 – the exact same score as the game Indiana lost at Champaign-Urbana two weeks ago.
Indiana came out flat, still feeling the emotional hangover following last night’s incredible and strange win over Purdue. Illinois ran out to an 18-4 lead before a barrage of threes from Devonte Green gave the Hoosiers a 22-21 lead at the under-12 media timeout in the first half.
For the rest of the game, Indiana struggled to make its legs work at the same level Illinois’ did. This was IU’s fifth game in five days, while the Illini were playing their third in three. In one strange moment, new Big 10 Commissioner Kevin Warren banished the Indiana Pep Band. “I just couldn’t take it. if I had to endure Indiana, our Indiana or the William Tell Overture one more time, I would have yanked my own ears off,” he explained.
IU fans filled in for the band, singing the fight song and humming the overture during timeouts.
For the first time since the tournament opening win over Nebraska, Archie Miller spoke to the entire media contingent following the loss, and again he went after ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi, “Mr. McFeely needs to go back to Mister Rogers Neighborhood and stop yakking about brackets. If he wants to talk seeds, he should be a farmer! That would be a great idea – go plant something and grow some sense – like frankincense! Ha!”
Miller’s mood an hour later brightened when I told him by phone that his Hoosiers would be a nine-seed and play Houston in St. Louis, “I love beating cheaters. Can’t wait to hammer Sampson. Never cared for him. Good coach. Arrogant though. We’ll use that arrogance against him! Can’t wait!”
The next step in the bracket won’t be as much fun for Miller as the Hoosiers drew Kentucky as a likely second round opponent should IU beat Houston and Kentucky beats 16th seeded Siena, “I don’t look ahead, but Calipari is a family friend. I know our fans hate Kentucky, and Kentuckians hate IU, but the Millers and Caliparis have known each other a long time. That doesn’t mean we won’t kick his ass, like Indiana always seems to. We match up great with UK!”
Indiana got into the tournament by playing its best basketball after beating Nebraska in Wednesday’s first round game. Everything seemed to click after that until running out of gas today.
This was a very good day for many other Indiana teams.
- Ball State chirped its way into the bracket by winning the MAC Tournament. The Cardinals will be a 13-seed in St. Louis, taking on the fourth seeded Wisconsin Badgers.
- Butler will play a dangerous 12/5 game against Liberty – also in St. Louis – an intriguing matchup as Butler assistant coach Jeff Meyer was the head coach at Liberty from 1981 to 1997.
- Purdue snuck its way into the tourney as a 10-seed despite losing a tremendous Big 10 Tourney semifinal game against Indiana. They will play West Virginia in the first round.
- One of the big surprises was Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish were long thought to be out of consideration for a bid. The committee must have been pleased with something, but the Domers’ resume’ was not stout. Mike Brey’s team lost every single game (0-8) they played against opponents ranked in the top 50 by Ken Pom. They will play the Friars of Providence in the first round.
Notable omissions from the bracket included UCLA, Memphis, Penn State, and Arizona State.
Results of first round games will be revealed on tomorrow’s Dan Dakich Show on 107.5 FM The Fan in Indianapolis.