John M., from Crimson Quarry, was kind enough to answer a few questions before his team of choice delivers an epic beating upon ours. #1 Indiana takes on Georgia tonight at 5:30, on ESPN U, from Brooklyn's Barclay's Center.
1) For Georgia fans who don't know much about Indiana besides the 7' star in Zeller, what should we expect to see out of the Hoosiers besides a much better basketball team? Who should we watch for?
You will see a very fast-paced offense. IU tries to push the ball up the court. One of the keys to this year's team is freshman point guard Yogi Ferrell, a McDonald's All-American and the first pure point guard IU has had in some time. Jordan Hulls is one of the best shooters in the country (he shot nearly 50 percent from three point range last season). Christian Watford, best known for hitting the game-winner against Kentucky, is a 6-9 guy who can shoot three pointers but has shown an increased willingness to bang down low. Victor Oladipo is an explosive athlete and very dangerous taking the ball to the basket.
2) Having already lost to Youngstown St, and with Indiana a preseason #1, is there any reason for a Georgia fan to have hope?
There's always reason for hope. This is IU's first trip away from Bloomington this season, and the Hoosiers haven't been very good on the road, not even last season. Thanks to a knee injury to Derek Elston and the controversial NCAA suspensions of Hanner Mosquera-Perea and Peter Jurkin, IU is very thin in the frontcourt. If Zeller and Watford both got into foul trouble that would bode well for Georgia. IU's defense lagged its offense last year, and the major criticism of the D this year is too many open looks from three. I know Georgia isn't a very good three point shooting team, but anyone can have a hot night.
3) The first 3 seasons under Tom Crean were some big struggles. How hard was it to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and how shocking was the turnaround last season when he almost doubled the win total of those first 3 years?
I think the darkest period for IU was early in the summer of 2010. Purdue had won the Big Ten and was an apparent national title contender (before Robbie Hummel's knee injury), Butler had just gone to the final game, and IU's recruiting was going nowhere. I remember sitting on my front porch and reading an Indianapolis Star article about IU's standing, and it was demoralizing. Fortunately, by December 2010, several of this year's freshmen had made early commitments and Cody Zeller had committed and signed, choosing IU over UNC and Butler. I think that by the beginning of 2011 IU fans saw the light at the end of the tunnel, even though the 2010-11 season was another 20-loss affair. As for last season, I expected IU to be a bubble team and to make the NCAA Tournament. I did not anticipate a top 4 seed, a Sweet 16 appearance, wins over Kentucky and Ohio State, and a sweep of archrival Purdue. I knew that the team could be significantly better with Zeller, but didn't expect a one-year turnaround from 20 losses to 27 wins.
4) UCLA, Indiana, Georgetown, some of the most prestigious programs in men's college basketball. Any idea how Georgia got to crash this party?
I don't know. Regional balance? Color coordination? Allowing Jim Harrick to get to see two of his former teams in the same venue? In all seriousness, Georgia will be by far IU's toughest opponent to date, and you guys beat Notre Dame and Florida away from home last season, so I don't think anyone regards this game as a joke.