Indiana hoops: Hoosiers far behind state’s top 3

Basketball still rules in Indiana. Even if the Hoosiers no

longer rule basketball in the state

They’re not even in the top three.

For the 20th time in the past three decades, at least three

teams from the state of Indiana have made it into the NCAA

tournament. For the first time, however, the Indiana Hoosiers were

not one of those three.

They weren’t even eligible.

Purdue, Butler and Notre Dame are all preparing for the

tournament, which will end April 5 with the championship game in

Indianapolis. Indiana is on spring break with nowhere to go.

Purdue (27-5) landed a No. 4 seed and will play Siena in

Spokane, Wash., on Friday. Butler (28-4) got a No. 5 seed and will

be trying to extend the nation’s longest winning streak to 21 games

when it faces UTEP in San Jose, Calif., on Thursday.

Sixth-seeded Notre Dame (23-11), which won six straight games

before losing to West Virginia in a Big East tournament semifinal,

will play Old Dominion in New Orleans on Thursday.

Hoosiers fans? It was the second straight season and the fourth

time in the past seven years that they had no reason to turn on the

NCAA selection show other than to see where their in-state rivals

were headed. All Indiana coach Tom Crean could do Sunday was tweet

about his hopes that the Hoosiers will be back.

“From the cornfields to the Capitol we are out and about

today,” Crean posted on his Twitter account. “We need to get the

guys added that can help us get back to Selection Sunday.”

He later added: “Size, toughness and athleticism is the

ingredients of the day.”

Crean has been urging Hoosier fans to support the Hoosiers,

urging them to wear crimson and cream to high school games,

tweeting: “WE NEED TO ALL TAKE BACK THE STATE.”

Indiana hasn’t been among the best teams in the state since

Kelvin Sampson resigned because of recruiting violations two years

ago. That left the Hoosiers with only eight scholarship players and

one senior for the 2008-09 season, when they finished with a 6-25

record, winning just one Big Ten game, and posting the school’s

worst winning percentage in nearly a century.

This season, the Hoosiers had a big win against Pittsburgh and

played well for half against Kentucky. But they also had an

embarrassing loss to Loyola of Maryland, struggled against South

Carolina-Upstate and narrowly avoided becoming the first squad in

school history to lose 12 in a row.

Indiana lost by 15 points to Northwestern in the first round of

the Big Ten tournament, ending the season at 10-21, including

losses in 12 of its last 13 games.

Freshman guard Jordan Hulls, who was Indiana’s Mr. Basketball a

year ago, said afterward that it will be hard for the Hoosiers to

watch the NCAA tournament on television.

“We know that we’re a good team and we can play with a lot of

other teams, and it’s going to be tough seeing those other guys

thinking we should be out there playing as well,” he said. “But

like I said, we’re just going to have to move on from this and try

to get better.”

Guard Jeremiah Rivers, a transfer who was a backup at

Georgetown, said he probably won’t watch much of the

tournament.

“This is the first time I’ve played and not gone to it. I was

spoiled my first two years, and went to the Final Four with

Georgetown,” he said. “It’s not going to be the same thing.

Missing the tournament hurts.

“Things can turn, you know. Look at North Carolina in the

championship last year and not making the tournament.”