In what might be billed as a big game in other years, the Pitt / Indiana basketball game tomorrow in the Jimmy V Classic features two unranked teams. At least Pitt has been playing well and has a 7-1 record to show for it. Indiana is 3-4 and is likely to have another tough season.
Somehow, I don't think this is what the tournament organizers had in mind as the feature game of a doubleheader.
On the Indiana side of things, Hoosier Tom Pritchard talks about his trip to the big city. Inside the Hall also has a good preview of the game along with a link to a Tom Crean pre-game interview.
Indiana, like Pitt, is a young team. They only have two upperclassmen playing regular minutes and their two top scorers are freshmen. After that, the similarities start to end:
- Pitt is 7-1 with some solid wins over Wichita State and Duquesne and their only loss was to #2 Texas. Indiana is 3-4 with four losses to unranked teams and their best win is against 3-3 Northwestern State.
- Pitt's RPI is 20th. Indiana's is 276th.
- To my knowledge, none of Indiana's players have played in a college game at MSG, which is like a second home to Pitt.
- Last year, Pitt went to the Elite Eight while Indiana suffered a 6-24 season.
- This year, Pitt is a potential tournament team while Indiana will probably struggle to reach the NIT.
- Pitt ranks 8th in scoring defense. Indiana is 237th.
- Pitt's rebounding margin is 7.8 per game. Indiana's is -.1
I know Tom Crean has Indiana in somewhat of a rebuilding mode, and another subpar season isn't likely to get him canned. But what about another DISASTROUS season? And I hadn't heard of this minor violation, which likely wasn't the best thing after the Kelvin Sampson train wreck. I wonder how many people Crean has won over so far and can't help but enjoy this misery for a while as he's always been one of the most annoying coaches in the Big East. At least Jim Calhoun's won something.
Personally, I think Indiana should undoubtedly be at least a little better than last year and I can't see Crean being let go after only two seasons - especially after the mess he was given.
All in all, this is a game Pitt SHOULD win, but with a young team, anything is possible. And the Hoosiers found a way to hang with a solid Maryland team in their last game even after shooting under 33% from the field.