Tom Crean has Indiana on the track back to national prominence, but he got a tough mid-major draw in the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament.
In the top half of the South region, the Hoosiers have New Mexico State in the Round of 64, then, with a victory, would play the winner of No. 5 Wichita State and No. 12 Virginia Commonwealth.
Let’s take a look at what Indiana could have to get to the Sweet 16 and a possible rematch with No. 1 Kentucky:
No. 13 New Mexico State (26-9, 10-4 WAC)
The Aggies won the WAC tournament, taking advantage after a Nevada loss and beating out the Wolfpack for the one bid coming from that conference.
New Mexico State is built on offense and rebounding, shooting 47% from the field and putting up 78 points per game. They are also sixth in the country in total rebounds.
Leading scorer Wendell McKines is a double-double machine, averaging nearly 19 points and 11 rebounds per game.
No. 5 Wichita State (27-5, 16-2 MVC)
Wichita State is the trendy mid-major pick to make a deep run in the tournament. It’s disappointing that they drew Virginia Commonwealth in the Round of 64 because both teams had potential to make a run.
The Shockers are experienced, especially after having won the NIT last season. They have size and balance on the offensive end, resulting in that high-scoring, strong-shooting team that can rebound.
Of their five losses this season, three are to tournament teams (Temple, Alabama, Creighton), one was in triple overtime, and another was a one-pointer in the MVC tournament.
No. 12 Virginia Commonwealth (28-6, 15-3 CAA)
The Rams beat Drexel in a high-energy CAA final to get the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
Shaka Smart’s team is playing their “Havoc” defense and they’ve gone 25-3 since losing to Alabama on Nov. 27th.
It’s unfortunate that the Rams will have to take on the Shockers in the first round, but if they can make it through, the “havoc” could continue for a few more rounds.
Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_