From now until Christmas, Beyond the Arc will detail what some teams need. Hey, we’re in a giving mood.
Christian Watford gave Indiana a pretty sweet Christmas gift two weeks ago when he nailed a game-winning 3-pointer against Kentucky. But there’s still more Tom Crean’s team needs.
What other teams have Christmas wish lists? Click here
Must have: An NCAA tournament berth. That’s non-negotiable.
The Hoosiers are 12-0, ranked 17th in the Top 25 and have perhaps the nation’s best freshman in center Cody Zeller. You start like that and somehow miss the NCAA tournament, well, the state might implode out of sheer frustration.
And rightly so. Indiana will push Ohio State for the Big Ten title and should vie with Wisconsin, Michigan State and Purdue for a top three finish. I don’t expect Crean’s team or the fans to be satisfied with only an NCAA tourney berth — a couple wins are probably in the cards – but it’s the bottom line this season.
Stocking stuffer: Watching Jordan Hulls shoot free throws.
The junior guard exemplifies the term “automatic” when he’s at the stripe. Until he missed a shot in Thursday’s win against UMBC, he’d made 56 straight, dating back to last season (the 10th longest streak in NCAA history). In fact, he was irate about his first miss of the season.
So when will he miss next? I’m going with Feb. 15. (Just picked it randomly. Turns out that’s a home game against Northwestern.)
Planning to re-gift: Its Big Ten schedule. The start, I mean.
The Hoosiers open at Michigan State, play host to Ohio State and Michigan, then get slight reprieves with Penn State and Minnesota before heading to Columbus. That’s a brutal stretch that could leave them 3-3 in conference play before January’s half over.
That happens, who knows what becomes of Indiana’s confidence?
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