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  • The Hoosiers did not look good against Indiana State in their opener. Is their cause for concern in Bloomington?
By Chris Johnson
November 10, 2017

Indiana was one of the biggest winners of the coaching carousel this offseason. After letting go of Tom Crean, it hired Archie Miller, an up-and-comer with a strong track record at Dayton who’d been mentioned in connection with a handful of other high-major jobs in recent years. In plucking Miller, the Hoosiers prioritized coaching ability over nostalgia; Indiana national championship-winning guard and current UCLA coach Steve Alford was rumored as a candidate to succeed Crean.

One game probably shouldn’t change anyone’s opinion about the decision to hire Miller or Indiana’s trajectory under his charge, but there’s nothing wrong with pointing out the obvious about what happened on Friday night in Bloomington. Indiana got blown out by a bad team, Indiana State. The 90-69 defeat marked the first time since 1984 that the Hoosiers dropped their season opener in Assembly Hall, according to WDRB.com journalist Rick Bozich. Statistician Ken Pomeroy’s website listed Indiana’s win probability for this game at 91%.

To frame this loss a different way, consider that Sports Illustrated projected Indiana as the No. 45 team in the country entering this season. We had the Sycamores at No. 180, good for ninth in the Missouri Valley Conference. Perhaps the defeat isn’t quite as concerning as the final score suggests. Indiana State made 17 of its 26 three-point attempts (65.4%), after all—setting the record for an opponent at Assembly Hall, according to Peegs.com reporter Mike Pegram—while the Hoosiers hit on just four of their 18 deep tries (22.2%).

The Sycamores picked a good night to put on a long-range clinic, but their shooting success barely mitigates the shock factor of Indiana, a team we project to go .500 in the Big Ten (at 9-9) and make the NCAA tournament as a First Four team this season, getting run off its home floor by an in-state program expected to finish near the bottom of a mid-major league. It’s a gut punch for a proud program that spent the offseason soaking in the good vibes of Miller’s recruiting momentum and looking forward to the start of a new era under a promising first-year coach.

Indiana is better than it showed on Friday night, and it’ll have a chance to prove as much when it hosts Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference foe Howard in two days. The Hoosiers would have preferred to go into that game 1-0. Instead, they’ll look to flush away the aftertaste of a dispiriting opening-night outcome.

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