Matt from Indiana offers this…

First of all, I love your site, keep up the good work. Secondly, it’s been a rough year for Indiana fans this season. However, just when everyone was giving up, we have reeled off three straight wins. What will it take for the Hoosiers to get into the tournament? We have no huge wins, but three solid ones in ND, Xavier, Michigan, all away from Assembly Hall. 10-6 in the conference would get us to 16-11, if we can get one more in Big Ten tourney, 17-12. Would a 17-12 Indiana team make the tourney? Has a 10-6 Big Ten team ever been left out? IU is nowhere to be found on most site’s bracket projections, but I think we really have a chance. Thanks.

See when you lose 3 games by 30 points or more before mid-January, I tend to lose interest in that team. So this e-mail caught me off guard. What, IU has won 3 in a row? No, really. I had tuned them out before the debacle against Wisconsin two weeks ago. After that 34 point loss, Mike Davis said something like, “we can still win the Big 10”. I mean seriously Mike. Then I saw that Indiana was playing Ohio St. last night on ESPN, and I didn’t even pay attention to it. Just didn’t care.

But it turns out Matt is right. It’s a matter of record that the Hoosiers have won 3 in a row since the Wisconsin game. While I wouldn’t give them any shot at winning the Big 10, they actually could go 10-6, because the conference is so screwed up this year. If anyone has to pick how the Big 10 race turns out, they would be advised to follow this strategy:

1) Put the names of Wisconsin and Michigan St. in a hat. Draw for 1st and 2nd.

2) Put the names of the other 9 teams in a hat. Draw for 3rd through 11th.

So has a 10-6 Big 10 team been left out of the bracket? Not really. You have to change the rules a little, because before the Big 10 tourney was invented, there were 18 conference games. Only 2 10-6 or 11-7 teams have been left out since 1985: 2003 Michigan who was on probation, and 1991 Illinois who was on probation. Illinois would have definitely been in. Michigan probably not. So history would sort of be on IU’s side. But almost all of the teams that got in had a much better overall record than the Hoosiers will have, and actually last year’s Michigan team is a pretty good comparison to what would be a 17-12 Indiana team in the scenario Matt presents. A 17-12 IU team would be at the mercy of how tight the bubble is, and how good their non-conference wins look at the end of the of season. But, yes, it could happen.