Ben Raphel from the incomparable IU site The Crimson Quarry joined us for a few questions ahead of the tilt on Saturday. Check them out here and follow them @crimsonquarry && @VT_Ben
The Only Colors: What's the temperature of Tom Crean's seat in Bloomington right now? We'd sure hate to see him go.
Ben Raphel: The temperature is burning hot right now. However, IU AD Fred Glass has given Crean his vote of confidence, saying that he's in no danger of losing his job. When looking at Crean's contract and his buyout, it's easy to say But if Indiana's fanbase reaches a boiling point, they could pony up the money, and Glass may have to listen.
Regardless, if you told me that the Hoosiers had a chance to get 20 wins and go 10-8 in conference at the final game of this season, I would have taken it. But the earlier success and 5-1 B1G start raised expectations for a team that probably was not as good as we all thought they were after that 19-point Maryland victory.
TOC: How's that bubble feeling? What does IU need to do to secure a tournament berth?
BR: It's feeling like it could burst at any moment. Some bracketologists (Jerry Palm) seem more confident than others (Joe Lunardi) about the Hoosiers' tourney chances. But until Greg Gumbel calls IU's name the night of March 15, I won't be sure of anything. Yes, this team has some good wins to their name (Butler, SMU, Maryland, OSU). But if IU loses out, I'm just not sure if 19 of them will be enough, especially as IU's RPI keeps falling and conference tourneys will certainly produce an upset and knock bubble teams off. It's all very unfortunate, especially since the Hoosiers have been considered comfortably in the tourney for most of the year.
TOC: Do you expect any early departures from this team? How's next year shaping up?
BR: Troy Williams and Yogi Ferrell could both leave early to the NBA, and their play has warranted these decisions. However, it doesn't look as if either of them would go higher than a late first-round pick, so I'm not sure if the incentive to leave will be there.
As for next year, the Hoosiers have two forwards from Missouri joining the team, Juwan Morgan and OG Anunoby. IU also remains in the hunt for Thomas Bryant and Thon Maker, either of whom would really help the fact that the team has been very undersized all season. The Hoosiers are currently oversigned though, so it's also unclear how Crean will deal with that roster issue.
TOC: Care to venture a prediction for this MSU game?
BR: I'm just not seeing it for Indiana on Saturday. MSU beat the Hoosiers by 20 at Breslin back in January, and nothing about IU's recent play has indicated that this game will be any different. There is always a chance that Crean, with his back against the wall, will rally the troops, especially against his mentor, Tom Izzo. But I don't see it happening. Spartans win again on Saturday, this time by 12.
Thanks to Ben for answering these questions!