The last time Indiana won at least 20 games was also the last time it made the NCAA tournament.
It’s fitting that the Hoosiers are headed back to the Big Dance when Tom Crean logs his first 20-win season.
A 71-66 win against Northwestern moved Indiana to 20-6 and 8-6 in the Big Ten with five games left this season, including a random home game against North Carolina Central next Wednesday. (?) At this rate, they’re a lock to finish about .500 in the Big Ten, too.
Call it one of those satisfying results, even if it wasn’t pretty.
“Tonight was about us somehow finding a way to get our 20th win,” Crean said. “We really wanted to do that at home because of all we’ve been through and all our fans have been through. It’s not something that you look at and say that automatically gives you anything. I’m really glad with the way we earned it tonight with some really good defensive stops.”
They needed ‘em. Northwestern (15-10, 5-8) had won six of its last seven against Indiana and desperately needed an impressive win to boost its fading NCAA tournament hopes. No such luck.
As for the Hoosiers, they’re at Iowa on Sunday and at Minnesota on Feb. 25. Win those two and they can enter the final two games – at home vs. Michigan State and Purdue – with a chance to finish third in the conference.
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