NCAA Tournament: Indiana Hoosiers Draw and Odds
Mike Woodson has guided the Indiana Hoosiers to the NCAA Tournament for the second straight season. Unlike his first campaign, though, Woodson’s Hoosiers are not forced to play in Dayton as a First Four participant.
After a third-place finish in the Big Ten and a trip to the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament, the Hoosiers earned the four seed in the Midwest Region, and they will be playing 13-seed Kent State in Albany on Friday night. How should Indiana fans or bettors view this matchup, and are the Hoosiers a good bet to make a run in the Big Dance?
Indiana (-5.5) vs. Kent State â Friday at 9:55 p.m.
Any discussion of Indiana’s first-round matchup must begin with how the Kent State Golden Flashes will handle Trayce Jackson-Davis and Jalen Hood-Schifino. Jackson-Davis is one of the best players in the country, and the Golden Flashes do not play guys with his unique blend of size, speed, and athleticism in the MAC. Kent State has a reserve player that is 6’9â³, but they primarily play a frontcourt that is 6’8â³ and 6’7â³.
The Hoosiers will be the much bigger team in this matchup, and Jackson-Davis will be a big problem for Kent State. They will likely double him when he gets the ball in the post and may look to how a team like Penn State defended him recently. Indiana moving the star big man off the low block and getting him into the high-post where he can use his quickness and athleticism to get to the basket and potentially get the Kent State frontcourt in foul trouble will be a counter Indiana can go to.
The play of the supporting cast may determine Indiana’s success or failure. Trey Galloway, Miller Kopp, Race Thompson, and Tamar Bates must make positive contributions and hit some perimeter shots for Indiana to advance. The backcourt battle between Hood-Schifino and Kent State’s Sincere Carry will be fun to watch. Carry is a fifth-year senior averaging nearly 18 points and five rebounds per game. He’s not as tall as Hood-Schifino but has good strength and gets into the paint often. If either of these players gets in foul trouble, it causes issues for his team and could swing this first-round game.
IU’s biggest problems this season have come against teams that spread the floor, drive on the Hoosier guards and then kick on Indiana’s overhelping defense to nail three-pointers. Penn State and Iowa immediately come to mind as teams that punished Indiana with that style. Kent State typically does not play that way, and no one would consider the Golden Flashes a premier shooting team or a high-volume three-point shooting squad.
On paper, the Hoosiers should be able to dominate the paint enough to advance, but they’ll need to be protective of the ball, as Kent State is of the nation’s best teams at forcing turnovers. This may not be the prettiest game, but ultimately, the Hoosiers at -5.5 seem the smart play.
NCAA Tournament Odds for Indiana Hoosiers
The Houston Cougars are the odds-on favorite to win the NCAA Tournament at +550. Indiana checks in at +3500, the 14th-highest odds in the field. The Hoosiers were listed as the 15th overall seed by the selection committee, so that number makes a lot of sense. Despite the odds, a run to the championship does not seem possible for Indiana. They have been inconsistent and unable to get enough production from the backcourt to be a real threat to cut down the nets.
A more realistic goal for Indiana would be reaching the Sweet 16, and they are listed at +140 to play into the second weekend of the Big Dance. That would require beating Kent State and then surviving the winner of the Miami versus Drake matchup. The Hurricanes are the type of high-scoring team that can give Indiana problems. Drake is an outstanding mid-major squad that hammered Bradley to win the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament. Either would be a challenging game for Indiana, and +140 is not a good value.
If they did reach the Sweet 16, the likely opponent would be former Indiana head coach Kelvin Sampson and the Houston Cougars in Kansas City. The value to reach the Elite Eight is much better, with odds at +575. If you believe Houston star Marcus Sasser will be out or limited with his injured groin, taking Indiana at that number might make sense. The Hoosiers are +1400 to reach the Final Four.