A lot of teams can be left wondering what might have been, especially those 67 teams that made the NCAA tournament and weren't named Louisville. One of those teams that has a lot of soul searching to do is the Indiana Hoosiers - a team with all the potential and yet not the desired outcome.
That may seem harsh, after all, we are talking about the Big Ten regular season champions and a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament and all. However, that serves to prove my point.
For many Hoosiers fans and surely the players and staff that will be the question they'll work through this offseason before focusing in the summer to next year. It's also the question we'll attempt to answer as we take a look back at the 2012-13 season compared to how we thought it would play out (hint: we pretty much nailed this one).
How We Predicted Things:
Regular Season Record: 27-4
B1G Record/Finish: 15-3 (1st place)
How it Actually Went Down:
Regular Season Record: 26-5
B1G Record/Finish: 14-4 (1st place)
Postseason: NCAA Sweet 16, L to Syracuse
- Well that's what we call getting it as close as humanly possible. One game off the actual record for the Big Ten and full regular season records, all while nailing their outright 1st place finish in conference play - um ya... Sorry, I'm going to pat myself on the back a little for that one.
What Went Right?
What didn't go right... just about everything went the way the Hoosiers wanted in the regular season, they won the Big Ten regular season crown and won 26 games in the regular season. Just about everything went right for them as they played the best statistical defense in quite some time too.
They led the conference in points scored, scoring margin, free throw shooting, and 3 point shooting and ranked in the top half of the conference in about every statistical category you could dream up. I'd say a ton went right for this team.
Hell, they had our Big Ten Player of the Year in Victor Oladipo (who also won Defensive Player of the Year), along with our 1st team All-Big Ten forward Cody Zeller and All-Freshman team member Yogi Ferrell. Things were about as good as you could get for a team in the Big Ten. They survived the hellacious conference gauntlet and came away as sole survivors at the top.
What Went Wrong?
If there was one thing that went wrong it was a head scratching ability to drop games to Wisconsin - it's the one team they seem to not be able to beat - having never beat them in the Tom Crean era and all.
Additionally that meant Indiana didn't win the Big Ten double of the regular season and tournament championships.
One of the biggest things that went wrong inside the team was that it seemed as if Cody Zeller hadn't really progressed from his freshman to sophomore seasons - his stats were pretty similar across the board - and he seemed to come up small in the biggest games and at the biggest times. If you need reference try the 2nd half of the Wisconsin game in the regular season or the entire game against Syracuse in the Sweet 16.
Victor Oladipo was my biggest surprise. We all knew coming in that he'd be their defensive stopper, but he was vastly improved offensively as well - averaging 3 points per game more than last season, shooting 59.9% from the field (nearly 212% better than last year), and a ridiculous improvement of 24% better from beyond the arc. All of that combined with his stellar defensive effort (improving his rebounding, steals, and blocks from a season ago).
We've already hit on it, but for me this team had national champions written all over them and not making a run to the Final Four at the least has to be considered a big time disappointment.
Quick Look Forward:
This will be a vastly different (not worse) team heading into next season as both Zeller and Oladipo are off early to the NBA and gone are Christian Watford and Jordan Hulls as graduating seniors. That's a lot of the heart and soul of this team. However Tom Crean has brought in six highly touted recruits for this class and things may not even miss a beat if the youngsters can become major contributors along with the rest of the class that included Yogi Ferrell.
Illinois Fighting Illini