INDIANAPOLIS — Get those brackets ready, Hoosier faithful – but not for the NCAA tournament.
Indiana needed four wins at the Big Ten Tournament to ensure admission into college basketball’s end-of-year showcase, but the Hoosiers’ tourney run stalled out before it could even get started with a 64-54 defeat to Illinois in the first round of the Big Ten’s postseason competition Thursday afternoon.
Doomed by 35-percent shooting, 16 turnovers and the inability to generate defensive stops late, the Hoosiers (17-15) are likely headed to the NIT or another postseason tournament of far less significance than the Big Dance.
“Bottom line is we can play better. We have to – you have to match the toughness and the competitive spirit every time that you play. And we’ve just got to quit making defensive mistakes in coverages and giving them live ball turnovers,” said IU coach Tom Crean, whose team lost for the third straight game and for the seventh time in its past 10 contests. “Really what I want to do is try to find a different way to say that message because I’ve given it a few times. And that’s the biggest thing.”