NCAA Tournament

Indiana earns top seed in East Region

2013-03-17T19:42:00Z 2013-03-17T20:59:09Z Indiana earns top seed in East RegionMICHAEL MAROT AP Sports Writer nwitimes.com
March 17, 2013 7:42 pm  • 

BLOOMINGTON | Indiana was considered the Midwest's top team most of the season.

The Hoosiers won't be spending much time there during the NCAA tournament.

With three losses in their last six games, the Big Ten regular-season champs still earned one of the four coveted No. 1 seeds in this year's NCAA tournament but lost the chance to play an hour from campus in the regional round. Instead, they got shipped to the East Region.

The selection committee did give Indiana a consolation prize by sending them to Dayton for second and third-round games later this week. If they win those, they will be off to Washington.

"We don't worry about it too much, there's Indiana fans all over the country," sophomore center Cody Zeller said.

The switch could actually work to the Hoosiers' advantage, too.

Junior swingman Victor Oladipo played high school basketball in Maryland and he met President Barack Obama when he was in high school. If the Hoosiers win their first two, it could set up a reunion between one of the nation's most improved players and the nation's most prominent basketball fan. Not that Hoosiers are getting ahead of themselves.

"If we don't win in Ohio, then there is no D.C. to worry about," Oladipo said.

The Hoosiers (27-6) will open Friday against the winner of the Long Island-Brooklyn-James Madison game in Dayton, about 170 miles from campus. A victory would send them into a third-round matchup against either eighth-seeded North Carolina State or ninth-seeded Temple on Sunday.

It's the first time since 1993 that Indiana has earned a No. 1 seed.

But the celebration this year was far more subdued than the one in 2012, which they watched on a big-screen television inside the new addition at the football stadium. This time, they kept the party private and waited until about 30 minutes after the selection show ended to start talking.

"It was kind of neat figuring out where we were going instead of watching the show and not knowing if was an in or out type of thing," Zeller said.

The selection will not be embraced in the Hoosier State, where the selection committee had been meeting since Wednesday.

When the Hoosiers clinched their first outright league title with a win Sunday at Michigan, many Indiana fans figured the Hoosiers' road to the Final Four would run through Indianapolis. The Midwest Region's Sweet 16 and Elite Eight games will be played at the home of the Indianapolis Colts.

The reason may be the Hoosiers' surprisingly poor finish. After starting 24-3, spending the whole season ranked in the top five and holding the No. 1 spot for more weeks than any other team this season, Indiana went 3-3 in its last six games barely beating the Wolverines when a buzzer-beating tip rolled off the rim. Then came their worst loss of the season in Saturday's Big Ten tourney semifinals to Wisconsin.

And when Louisville captured the Big East tourney title Saturday night, the stage was set to keep Louisville about 100 miles from its campus for the regional round instead of the Hoosiers.

"It's unfortunate we lost the other day, we didn't want to do that. We've got to get things fixed," Oladipo said. "We've got to get back to playing Indiana basketball the right way, keeping our edge and staying together."

Coach Tom Crean was expected to address the media later Sunday evening.

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