Feb 19, 2013, 9:56 PM EST
First, it was Duke’s rise to No. 1 after their terrific run through the non-conference schedule.
Then, it was the cavalcade of suitors for the top spot — Louisville, Duke again, Kansas, even Florida tossed themselves in the mix — that took turns using a few first-place votes as motivation for a losing streak.
Next came Michigan, as their ascendence to the top of the Big Ten standings, mowing through the weaker part of their Big Ten schedule, was halted when the Wolverines were knocked off in Bloomington.
And finally, it was Michigan State, who one writer (ahem, me) called the best team in the Big Ten after their deconstruction of Michigan last Tuesday night.
Through it all, Indiana has been there, winning games, producing two players worthy of all-american consideration and, after a thrilling, 72-68 win over No. 4 Michigan State in East Lansing, proving themselves quite worthy of their current No. 1 ranking while taking over sole possession of first-place in the Big Ten.
It hasn’t quite happened how we all predicted it would.
Cody Zeller, the consensus Preseason Player of the Year, has been excellent. But he’s also been overshadowed by Victor Oladipo, Indiana’s hyper-active defensive stopper who just so happens to show out in the biggest games of the season. On Tuesday night, Oladipo finished with 19 points, nine boards and five steals while playing a major role in Keith Appling’s devolvement into ‘overwhelmed freshmen’ mode and scoring the game-winning bucket — his 1,000th point as an Indiana Hoosier — on a tip-in with less than a minute left that gave the Hoosiers a 68-67 lead.
It’s fitting, really.
Oladipo was never supposed to be this good. He’d spent the last two seasons making a name for himself as a good defender that threw down some great dunks and couldn’t be trusted to shoot outside four feet. This season, he’s not only become Indiana’s best player and one of the team’s emotional leaders, but he’s developed a knack for making big plays in big moments and playing his best basketball in the games with the most on the line.
So of course, the guy that turned himself from a 20.8% three-point shooter into a 52.4% three-point shooter — a player who should have been complimented if he was even considered an NBA Draft afterthought that is now a virtual lock for the lottery — reached a scoring milestone on a hustle play that gave Indiana the lead for good in a game that puts them on the inside track for a Big Ten title.
And that’s precisely where Indiana sits right now.
They have a one-game lead over Michigan State in the Big Ten standings that, essentially, doubles as a two-game lead when it comes to seeding. The Hoosiers swept the Spartans meaning they have the tie-breaker for the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten tournament. And if things go as expected, it would mean that Indiana would avoid having to play Michigan or Michigan State until the Big Ten title game.
But that’s getting ahead of ourselves.
What matters right now is that Indiana went on the road and beat the latest Flavor of the Week.
Any doubt about the Hoosiers that had crept into your mind after the Illinois, or after the Wisconsin loss, or the Butler loss, or at any point during the season can be put to rest.
It may not be how they drew it up, but who are we to argue with the results?
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.
Dec 29, 2014, 12:12 AM EST
Some solid afternoon victories for St. John’s, Arizona State and Syracuse.
Dec 28, 2014, 11:15 PM EST
Despite trailing by as many as 16 points in the second half, Stony Brook managed to pick up its first-ever win over a ranked opponent.
Dec 28, 2014, 9:44 PM EST
Before deciding to attend Stanford, Schuyler Rimmer verbally committed to attend Florida in August 2012.
Dec 28, 2014, 8:34 PM EST
Who doesn’t love game-winners?
Dec 28, 2014, 6:33 PM EST
Garrett Nevels is averaging 12.0 points and 4.9 rebounds per game for the 10-4 Rainbow Warriors.
Dec 28, 2014, 5:48 PM EST
Eight days after winning at then-No. 25 Michigan State, Texas Southern scored six points in the final 3.8 seconds to stun Kansas State in Manhattan.
Dec 28, 2014, 2:35 PM EST
Christian Wood is one of the most improved sophomores in the country this season. This was just nasty.
Dec 28, 2014, 12:54 PM EST
Fresno State hopes to get word on a productive point guard soon.
Dec 28, 2014, 11:11 AM EST
There’s a reason Kentucky will be expected to go 31-0 this season.
Michigan basketball ticket prices surge in anticipation of potential Jim Harbaugh head coaching announcement
Dec 28, 2014, 10:25 AM EST
Tickets for the Michigan and Illinois game on Tuesday have skyrocketed as Wolverine fans hope for an introduction to potential new football head coach Jim Harbaugh.
Dec 28, 2014, 9:06 AM EST
Doctors are unsure if the two incidents are related.
Dec 28, 2014, 9:00 AM EST
Some decent games during an otherwise slow weekend.
Dec 27, 2014, 11:40 PM EST
There’s one less undefeated in college basketball as the Wildcats won at Louisville.
Dec 27, 2014, 9:25 PM EST
Wiltjer finished the game with 24 points and Pangos scored 18 of his 21 in the second half Saturday evening in Provo.
Dec 27, 2014, 8:41 PM EST
Tokoto made just one field goal in UNC’s 89-58 win over UAB. Unfortunately for UAB’s WIlliam Lee, he got in the way.
Dec 27, 2014, 6:01 PM EST
Semi Ojeleye averaged 2.0 points and 1.3 rebounds per game during his time at Duke.
Dec 27, 2014, 5:31 PM EST
Louisville’s starting perimeter (Rozier, Jones and Blackshear) combined to shoot 10-for-42 in their loss to No. 1 Kentucky.
Dec 27, 2014, 4:44 PM EST
But just because he’s their best point guard doesn’t mean he’s going to be their starter.
Dec 27, 2014, 4:31 PM EST
JayQuan McCloud didn’t play in a game at Murray State before deciding to transfer to a school closer to home.
Dec 27, 2014, 2:44 PM EST
Hoyas and Hoosiers played one of the games of the season.
- Perimeter shot selection will be key for Louisville moving forward 0
- Tyler Ulis proves he’s Kentucky’s best point guard in 58-50 win over Louisville 3
- Film Session: Louisville-Kentucky will be a Tale of Two (Different) Defenses 1
- WCC Midseason Catchup: No. 8 Gonzaga leads the way 0
- The top 15 most improved players in college basketball 3
- Late Night Snacks: George Washington wins the Diamond Head Classic 0
- New Year’s Resolutions: Arizona Wildcats 2
- Kentucky still has one more major test to pass this season and it might not come against Louisville (5)
- POSTERIZED: Don’t jump with Loyola Marymount’s Evan Payne like Ron Baker did (VIDEO) (3)
- Pregame Shootaround: Six Top 15 teams in action tonight (3)
- Rashard Kelly’s last-second putback gives No. 11 Wichita State an 80-79 overtime win over Hawaii (3)
- Jim Boeheim makes fun of his team … again (3)