Just a year after Indiana appeared in the Sweet Sixteen, analysts are predicting the Hoosier State may not send any teams to this year’s National Collegiate Athletic Association men’s basketball tournament.
If the experts are right, this would be the first time since 2005 that Indiana is absent from the NCAA Tournament.
“It doesn’t look like anybody’s gonna make it through. Obviously some could by winning their conference, but it’s about the bleakest prospect I can recall for a long while of anyone getting in,” says Bob Hammel, an Indiana sports reporter for more than 30 years.
While the prospects surprised Hammel, he says they shouldn’t be seen as a long-term diagnosis of where Indiana basketball is headed.
Peegs.com publisher Mike Pegram agrees and says Indiana is known for consistently producing talented basketball players. The difference this year, he says, has a lot to do with where those basketball players ended up after high school.
“It’s just really surprising that Indiana has struggled, when there was a lot of talent in the state for the current sophomore and junior classes. I would never have expected the state to not have produced a NCAA tournament team when I was watching how many great players there were in high school three or four years ago,” says Pegram.
Pegram says other colleges are stealing Indiana talent away from in-state universities. He cites Gary Harris of Fishers, who was the 2012-2013 Big Ten Freshman of the year at Michigan State as one example.
He also pointed to Michigan’s Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary. Robinson III is the son of a former NBA player who went to Purdue University, and McGary was ranked the number two graduating high school player in 2012 by Scout.com and ESPN.
According to Pegram, Hoosiers shouldn’t worry about their teams missing NCAA tournaments in coming years.
If anyone stands a chance in making the tourney this year, he says, it might be Indiana University-Purdue University in Fort Wayne.
“One team that not a lot of people talk about is IPFW, which would be funny because they never make it,” Pegram says. “But they’ve been near the top of their conference this year. They’ll have to win their conference tournament, but they’ve shown that they’re almost as good as anybody in the Summit League. They might be the best bet there is.”
Right now, Pegram says Michigan and Michigan State are two big teams to watch, among others.
“The farther north you are, the better off you are in 2013-2014,” he says.
Find a full history of Indiana’s NCAA tournament appearances here.