It wasn't easy, but Indiana is heading back to the Sweet 16 after defeating VCU 63-61 on Saturday night. The Hoosiers' stifling defense made life difficult for the Rams, but it took a clutch jumper from Will Sheehey to give Indiana the victory.
With 12:20 left in the second half, the Hoosiers looked to become a victim of another VCU Cinderella run. Down 57-48 at that point, Indiana stonewalled VCU, only holding the Rams to four points for the remainder of the game.
Still, it was a tightly contested game as the final seconds approached. Indiana's Victor Oladipo drove down the court with seconds remaining, but his shot was rejected by VCU's Darius Theus. Unfortunately for Theus, his block landed right to Sheehan, who hit the jumper with only 11 seconds left. VCU had a chance at the end, but Rob Brandenberg missed an open three pointer to end the Rams' run.
For Indiana, the victory on Saturday night was one that the program desperately needed. After three dreadful, sub .500 seasons, the Hoosiers have finally returned to the big stage. Indiana hasn't had much to celebrate since their loss in the NCAA Finals against Maryland in 2002. The Hoosiers have only made it to the second round three times since their finals appearance.
The Hoosiers have a passionate fanbase and a proud history. Under former head coach Bob Knight, Indiana was a prominent college program, winning three National Championships in 1976, 1981 and 1987. Overall, the Hoosiers have five National Championships to their credit.
While another VCU run would've been a compelling storyline, it is great to see a once prominent college team return to the big stage.
The Hoosiers will have a challenge when they take on Kentucky in the Sweet 16, despite the fact that Indiana defeated the Wildcats earlier this season. College basketball fans will be in for a treat when these two legendary schools collide for a chance to go to the Elite Eight.