Indiana’s success despite the pressure of being ranked number one

Photo taken from ESPN


Extreme amounts of pressure comes with being pre-season ranked number one and we have seen many teams in the past slip early in the season, especially in college basketball.  The Indiana Hoosiers as of now have handled the pressure very well.  They have played some tough opponents already this season.  The Hoosiers have proven that they are a complete team and have played through adversity already.  The Hoosiers are still undefeated and ranked number one through the first seven games.

The Hoosiers won the Legends Classic after defeating the University of Georgia in the semi finals and Georgetown in the final game.  The Hoyas of Georgetown came back late in the second half with a couple of big three’s to take Indiana into overtime.  The Hoyas seemed to have all the momentum, however, the Hoosiers remained calm and showed that they can handle high pressure situations.   Losing this game would have surely bumped them out of the number one spot.  The Hoosiers dominated the overtime period and ended up defeating the Hoyas 82-72.

The only ranked team the Hoosiers have played so far this season is the North Carolina Tar Heels who are ranked 14th in the nation.  This game was highly advertised as it was on primetime television and one of the biggest games in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.  The Hoosiers controlled most of the game, but in the first half the Tar Heels stuck around.  North Carolina is not a team coaches want hanging around because they have lots of talent.  Indiana was leading by nine at the half 37-46.  The second half of this game was proof to many as to why this team deserves to be the number one ranked team right now.  The Hoosiers dominated the second half as they out scored  the Tar Heels 37 to 20 in the second half to beat North Carolina 83-50. Indiana went on a 20 to 3 run to start the second half against a Tar Heel team that is very talented.  They definitely deserve the number one ranking as of now.

Entering the season, most analysts expected their offense to be one of the best in the nation and it has proven to be.  Indiana averages the fifth most points per game this season and has the 11th best field goal percentage.  They shoot the ball efficiently because they are very unselfish as a team and take smart shots.  Also, a lot of their points are scored off of fast break opportunities and offensive put backs.  They are good at both pushing the tempo and slowing it down so they are extremely hard to defend.

The Hoosiers offense is arguably the most well rounded in the nation. However, they do have a college basketball superstar on their team and he has done nothing but continue to impress this season.  Cody Zeller, the 7-foot center has proven that he can almost do it all.  Averaging 16 points per game and 8 rebounds per game, Cody Zeller is the backbone of their offense.  He doesn’t take a lot of shots to score that many points. His field goal percentage is 64% which is the second highest in the Big Ten.  He also helps out his team by scoring frequently on offensive put backs.  He can run the floor better than any big man in the league and has great hands.  He often looks like a wide receiver on a basketball court.

Before the season began, many analysts were skeptical about the Hoosiers defense and thought that it would be the achilles heel of their team.  If you had a chance to see the North Carolina game, you would see that Indiana’s defense is a lot better than people thought it would be. They were very impressive. Their tenacity and competitive nature gives them the upper hand.  They also score a lot of their points off turnovers.  Their only weaknesses on defense are their undersized guards and their fast break defense. In order to beat them, teams will have to push the ball.

The Hoosiers have remained consistent, composed, and humble as they remain undefeated this season.  They are a team with a goal, and they play with a lot of heart and passion.  I see them having a lot of success, but do not see them going undefeated this season, especially because of the strength of the Big Ten Conference. They should however, have a very successful year and they have the ability to make it to the national championship.  It will be interesting to see how much they continue to improve as the season rolls on. They are a complete team on a mission.