Indiana is the ultimate At-Large stress test for the NCAA Men's Tournament Committee

BLOOMINGTON, FR - FEBRUARY 26: Indiana Hoosiers No. 0 rookie Lango Langford, delivers the ball to the field during the Wisconsin Badgers game at Assembly Hall on February 26, 2019 in Bloomington, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey / Getty Images)

Michael Hickey / Getty Images

Indiana is a good team that has had a bad season. May be. Or maybe Indiana is a mediocre team that has had a poor season. IU is probably not a bad team that has had a good season, although this interpretation is also available.

The Hoosiers 2019 are the ultimate team of bubbles: a confused mix of good wins, a bunch of defeats, a star player and a story of blue blood that, whether we like it or not, still plays a role in these things.

Indiana lost Thursday its 15th game of the year after losing 79-75 to the now 19-14 Ohio State. In most cases, a team of 15 defeats would not be eligible for the NCAA tournament, but Indiana is the ultimate resistance test for the men's selection committee.

On one side, that's a lot of losses: would a team with a different name on the chest even be considered at 17-15? On the other hand, you do not have to squint to see a good team hiding inside this terrible record.

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - MARCH 14: Evan Fitzner # 55 of Indiana Hoosiers bounces on Andre Wesson's No. 24 Ohio State Buckeyes at the United Center on March 14, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. Ohio State defeated Indiana 79-75. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel / Gett

Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images

Over the last three weeks, Indiana has defeated two ranked teams, No. 19 Wisconsin and No. 6 Michigan State. In November, IU eliminated number 24 Marquette and followed with quality wins over Louisville and Butler. The Hoosiers were demolished by Duke during the non-conference season, but entering the new year, Indiana was 11-2 and seemed to have the power to compete in the Big Ten Championship.

Then the engine exploded.

The Hoosiers scored 1-12 between January 6th and February 22nd and placed 9th in the Big Ten tournament standings.

So what do you do with that if you are the selection committee? If the goal is simply to reward the most accomplished teams with general offers, Indiana probably does not qualify. But if you are looking to put the best possible teams on the field, the question is complicated.

At Romeo Langford, Indiana, one of the NBA's top prospects for college basketball. The state of Michigan shows that the Hoosiers are able to beat all teams in the country when they play well … which is about half the time.

CHAMPAIGN, IL - MARCH 07: Romeo Langford, No. 0 of Indiana Hoosiers, brings the ball to the score during the match against the Illinois Fighting Illini at the State Farm Center on March 7, 2019 in Champaign, USA. # 39; Illinois. (Photo by Michael Hickey / Getty Images)

Michael Hickey / Getty Images

Statistically, there is evidence that IU is better than what his record indicates. The Hoosiers were the second best shooting team of the Big Ten this year (45.9% of the total), and they finished sixth in the league in scoring (71.5 points per game), third in blocks (4 , 44) and fifth in interceptions (6.53). Their biggest loss is their three-point shot, which represents 31.4%, which is a concern of some importance in the modern era of space and rhythm.

It would be rare and controversial to put a team with the Indiana CV in the tournament, but there is a recent precedent. In 2016 and 2017, Vanderbilt won overall bids with 19-14 and 19-16 records, respectively.

Villanova would be an older, but better, comparison in 1991. The Wildcats got a global bid despite a 16-14 record and a semi-final loss to the Big East. But they beat five ranked teams that year, ranked 9th and still have the distinction of "team with the worst result that has won an NCAA tournament match".

And that must be a factor. No matter what you think of the Indiana team this year, the history of the NCAA tournament suggests that a team with so much defeats will almost certainly lose its first game and n & rsquo; Has no chance of winning the Sweet 16.

But do you really believe that? Do you really believe that this team from Indiana is unable to win two tournament games? The Hoosiers could not enter as a No. 10 seed, beat a No. 7 seed and then drop a No. 2 seed in the style of, oh, Michigan State?

CHAMPAIGN, IL - MARCH 07: Head coach Archie Miller of the Indiana Hoosiers is seen in the Illinois matchup against Illini at the State Farm Center on March 7, 2019 in Champaign, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Hickey / Getty Images)

Michael Hickey / Getty Images

Indiana puts the selection committee in a philosophical stalemate. Doing what is "fair" probably means giving this general offer to a team with less than 15 defeats and there are many good candidates. But doing what is "best" for the tournament can mean taking a chance on an attractive but deeply flawed team.

The wise choice for the selection committee would be to leave Indiana out. Nobody will say that the Hoosiers were made sure they were not successful. Nobody would discourage the committee from leaving with a team with a better record.

But if you're happy to please everyone, sitting on the selection committee is probably not the job that's right for you. The job is to put the best teams in the tournament.

And on Sunday of the selection, Indiana's fate will tell us a lot about how the committee decides.

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