A lot can change in just one year, and nobody knows that better right now than the legion of fans rooting on the Indiana Hoosiers.
One year ago, Indiana was ranked No. 7 in the nation and was just two weeks away from reclaiming the top ranking and eventually a No. 1 seed. But after their defeat in the Sweet 16, the Hoosiers lost a pair of players as the No. 2 and No. 4 picks of the 2013 NBA Draft, and this season the Hoosiers suddenly look mortal. After losing to Michigan State on Tuesday, Indiana appears worse than mortal -- it looks at risk of missing the NCAA Tournament.
There isn't a single credible bracketology floating around that has Indiana dancing in March, and with good reason. The Hoosiers own an RPI ranking of 71 (via ESPN), a Kenpom rating of 68 and their best non-conference win was over the Washington Huskies. That isn't exactly the resume that opens eyes.
Granted, the Hoosiers play in the Big Ten, but they are ninth in the conference in RPI. They got off to a good start with a defining win over Wisconsin, but then put that positive memory to rest as quickly as possible with a loss to Northwestern.
There are many reasons why teams miss out on the NCAA Tournament, ranging from increased parity across college sports to mid-majors learning how to play with the big boys. Either way, it is a pretty stellar drop for a No. 1 seed to miss out on the tournament the next year.
Here is the list of teams over the past decade that were a No. 1 seed one year and failed to make the tournament the following year.
|Year of Plenty||Year of Failure|
|2003 Oklahoma Sooners||2004|
|2004 St. Joseph's Hawks||2005|
|2006 Connecticut Huskies||2007|
|2007 Ohio State Buckeyes||2008|
|2007 Florida Gators||2008|
|2009 Connecticut Huskies||2010|
|2009 North Carolina Tar Heels||2010|
|2011 Pittsburgh Panthers||2012|
|2012 Kentucky Wildcats||2013|
If there is anything to take away from it, fret not Hoosiers fans -- this apparently happens more than it seems it should. Also, kudos to UConn for doing that twice! Of the past forty No. 1 seeds, nine haven't made the return trip, good for a 22.5 percent rate. This year, the Hoosiers have a bit of company. While the Louisville Cardinals and Kansas Jayhawks are both back in shape and shouldn't miss the tournament in any realistic scenario, the Gonzaga Bulldogs are on a bit of shakier ground. However, they stand more solid than Indiana because they play in the WCC instead of the Big Ten.
The Hoosiers have plenty of opportunities to make some statements. They have two games left against Michigan, and one game each against Ohio State, Iowa and Wisconsin. They'll need to avoid future Northwestern pitfalls, however, if they really want to make sure they are participating in the big dance and don't end up as just another row on the above table.