Stymied by a stifling Ohio State defensive performance, Indiana, the nation’s most potent offense, struggled to their worse performance on that end of the floor this season.
The Buckeyes held the Hoosiers to a season-low 58 points. There has only been one game this year where Indiana scored less than the 0.95 PPP they mustered against Ohio State, and that was in their Big Ten opener against Iowa.
As I wrote last night, the performance isn’t that much of a concern for the Hoosiers’ national title chances; playing in the rugged Big Ten, things like this are going to happen. This is still the nation’s best offensive attack. There are still two all-american bookended by shooters, role players and a pair of quality point guards.
The concern, however, is that Indiana may have cost themselves an outright Big Ten title with the loss. They hold a one-game lead in the loss column on four teams tied for second place with one game to play. The one game they have left?
At Michigan on Sunday.
A loss would still mean that the Hoosiers are Big Ten co-champions, but that doesn’t change the fact that, after Tuesday’s Senior Night loss, Indiana’s Big Ten title celebration seemed out of place.
That’s right, after a loss that could cost them the outright Big Ten title, the Hoosiers donned championship hats, raised a Big Ten trophy and brought the ladders out to cut down the nets.
(Image via Jeff Rabjohns)
Look, I get it. I really do.
Win or lose, this was senior night for one of Indiana’s most important senior classes. Christian Watford and Jordy Hulls and Derek Elston, these guys were the players that came to Indiana when it was still a laughingstock, thanks to the Kelvin Sampson era. These were the kids that made their way to Bloomington with a dream and, through a lot of hard work and even more tough losses, found themselves Big Ten champions this season.
If anyone deserved to cut down the nets and celebrate during their final game in Assembly Hall, it was this group of kids.
But the heartbreak was palpable. Look at the screen-grab from ESPN3’s broadcast of the postgame festivities. Does it look like either of those two are enjoying the moment at all?
Does it look like either of them want to remember this moment?
I applaud Tom Crean for making the effort to do something special for the recruiting class that believed in him and changed the culture of the Indiana program. Like I said, that group of guys deserved a chance to cut down the nets and be honored in front of their friends, family and fans.
But doing it after the game, after a heart-breaking loss that could dramatically alter the course of the Indiana season, just seems silly.
“This is the epitome of bittersweet,” Indiana coach Tom Crean told reporters after the ceremony. “We’re trying to celebrate what these guys have earned at same time, we didn’t earn it tonight.”
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.