IU's path to Sweet success
Indiana vs. Syracuse. East Regional, Sweet 16 at Washington, DC. A rematch of a scintillating title game between the two in 1987. People remember Keith Smart winning it in the last second, but how many remember Indiana trailed by four with around a minute to go? Rather reminiscent of this year, don't you think?
Here's the question... does Indiana have any more rabbits left? Michigan State in East Lansing... Michigan in Ann Arbor... a late rally against a Temple team that actually was a great dress rehearsal for Syracuse... all magical escapes where Indiana took advantage of opportunity, and found a way to win. Exactly like 1987-- a freshman Derrick Coleman misses a free throw late, and Indians wins the title-- their last national title, to be exact.
Don't think Jim Boeheim has forgotten it, either. Revenge is a great motivator-- and don't think Boeheim hasn't brought up 1987 to his players. Mind you, all these kids playing weren't born when that game happened-- which makes Boeheim's longevity all the more remarkable.
This is the 26th year since Indiana got Smart. Can Indiana taste "Sweet" success against Boeheim's Orange? Yes... with some "if's"...
-- IF Indiana can get its outside shooting together. The Hoosiers looked awful from 3 range against Temple. The key man here? Jordy Hulls. He HAS to regain his mid-season form if Indiana is to win tonight. I think Indiana has to shoot at least 40 percent from 3 range tonight...
-- IF Indiana can get its transition game going of misses. Don't think Boeheim doesn't know about Indiana's speed, and will find a way to counter it.
-- IF Indiana doesn't give up a slew of offensive rebounds. I lost count of the second-chance opportunities Temple had against the Hoosiers.
-- IF Indiana can go into Big East territory and pull it out. They won over A-10 member Temple on an A-10 floor; now they have to beat Syracuse on a Big East floor. The floor inhabitant? Georgetown-- whom Indiana defeated themselves on a neutral Big East area floor-- at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Can Indiana get themselves to the Elite 8 for the first time since 2002? They CAN-- IF they channel their inner toughness. They made the Sweet 16 and played a great game agaisnt Kentucky a year ago... now it's time for them to do it again. Here's to hoping for Sweet success tonight....
That's my take... I'm Tom Lee.