ALBANY, NY – Back to what should be a normal sight: the Cream and Crimson of Indiana basketball suiting up for the NCAA Tournament.
At least if much of the Hoosier state has any say in the matter.
For a second season in a row, IU made the cut to play in March Madness, though this year’s squad should be far better prepared and well rested than last year’s was, playing in the First Four and dealing with multiple flight issues after a Big Ten Tournament run.
“Last year was challenging for us, playing in all those games in all those days was tough,” remembers junior guard Trey Galloway. “Being more refreshed and ready to go will be huge for us this year. We’ve got more time to prepare for Kent State. I think we’ve done a great job of preparing so far. We’ve got one more day, so we’ll be good.”
Every college basketball fan in America knows Indiana is led by consensus All-American Trayce Jackson-Davis. The Hoosiers opponent, Kent State will know it as well and try to limit the 2019 Indiana Mr. Basketball. Though that strategy hasn’t exactly worked well often for IU’s opposition this year, plenty of other Hoosiers are capable of thriving in the spotlight.
“A lot of guys stepped up and have been playing well this season,” says Jalen Hood-Schifino, the Big Ten Freshman of the Year. “As we go into tomorrow against Kent State, everyone has to bring their A-game, and anyone can be a star and have their moment.”
It is more than just a moment Indiana is hoping for, though. As a No. 4 seed in the Midwest Region, the Cream and Crimson are favored to move on, not just to the next round, but to the Sweet 16 as well. It would be the Hoosiers first Sweet 16 appearance in seven years if they can meet those expectations.
“This year we want more,” explains Galloway. “We want to keep advancing. It’s one game at a time. Having that under our belt last year with some of the guys returning, we know what it takes to advance. It’s not gonna be easy, but we’ve gotta come together and play our best basketball.”
Indiana is scheduled to tip off against No. 13 seed Kent State at 9:55 p.m. Friday broadcast on TBS.