Before the season was even on the horizon in Bloomington, Indiana was rocked by a season ending head injury to Devin Davis. For a team that had already been predicted to finish pretty low in the Big Ten, losing a player of Davis' caliber (and with the circumstances that caused him to be injured) could have been the death knell for Tom Crean's tenure. Instead, by the end of the season, outperforming just about everyone's expectations had become kind of a disappointment. Let me take you on a roller coaster ride known as IU Basketball's season.
The Early Ups and Downs
Indiana started off the season with a few easy games sandwiching a hard-fought win against SMU in Assembly Hall. Then came the first in-season bad news: dropping a home game to Eastern Washington. The Eagles were an NCAA tournament team, but still, losing to Eastern Washington is not something a good team does. Indiana recovered by grabbing three straight wins (including a victory over Pitt in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge) before getting steamrolled by Montrezl Harrell and Louisville. They followed that up with another set of three wins, chief among them a win over then-#23 Butler at the Crossroads Classic, before dropping their last non-conference game to Georgetown in overtime. 10-3 was certainly not the best start Indiana could have possibly had, but they beat most of the teams they were supposed to beat, and didn't suffer any truly embarrassing losses (like NJIT, St. Peter's, or Texas Southern).
Conference Play, Part 1
The Hoosiers opened the Big Ten season in Nebraska, and finally snapped the curse that Pinnacle Bank Arena had held on the Cream and Crimson for the better part of a couple years. The blowout in East Lansing was disappointing, but grabbing three close wins right after it left a lot of people feeling pretty good about this team. Then Maryland came to Assembly Hall, and this happened.
That would be the crowd serenading Maryland during the last 30 seconds of a blowout of a team that had been considered Wisconsin's biggest challenge to win the conference outright.
And exiting that game, Indiana was 15-4 on the season, 5-1 in conference play, and everything seemed primed for an unexpectedly good year in Bloomington.
Conference Play Part 2 and the Postseason
Of course, that would also be the point where the wheels kinda fell off. Indiana would manage just four more regular season wins (the only really notable one being against Minnesota where the Hoosiers set a new school record for most 3s made in a single game), and drop numerous close games on their way to 19-12, and played their way from an easy 6 seed or better in the NCAAs into firmly placing themselves on the bubble (or so everyone thought). A quick split of games in the Big Ten Tournament left Indiana just about where they had been the week prior, though a few "experts" had decided that the Hoosiers hadn't done enough to secure their tournament bid, forcing everyone to sweat out the weekend.
And then the tournament committee put IU in the very first quarter of the bracket revealed on Selection Sunday comfortably in as a 10 seed, and many laughs were had at the expense of the "experts". Of course, Indiana wasn't able to hold onto the lead against Wichita State, but considering last season's "We don't play in the CBI" ending, just making the tournament was a relief.
There were no seniors on the Indiana roster this year, though some turnover will happen anyway. Troy Williams, a player who is being favorably compared to Victor Oladipo in many circles, decided he wanted one more year in B-Town, so we're now just waiting to see if Yogi Ferrell will also give IU one more chance. The fanbase is still disgruntled about the whole "Indiana head basketball coach Tom Crean" thing, but that's nothing new. Assembly Hall is scheduled for some long-term renovations which were kind of needed a while ago, but late is better than never. For now, we simply wait, watch, and hope that nothing goes wrong this offseason.