INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — There is a lot of excitement around the Indiana basketball program this fall, thanks in part to the arrival of former Hoosiers legend Mike Woodson as the new head coach combined with the fact that Archie Miller is long gone after a four-year failure.
There seems to be no doubt that Indiana in 2022 will be far better than they were last year, when they finished with a 12-15 record and were tied for 10th — yes, 10th — in the Big Ten, losing in the first round of the league tournament.
A new season is upon us now with Big Ten Media Days here. Seven Big Ten coaches and their players met with the media on Thursday — Iowa, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Nebraska, Rutgers and Ohio State — and on Friday, Indiana, Purdue and Michigan State will go, along with Penn State, Northwestern, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
The Big Ten doesn't do preseason polls anymore, but a collection of Midwest media guys did, with 28 beat writers doing their own poll, two from each beat of the 14 teams in the league. Michigan and Purdue were first, and Indiana was seventh.
Which brings me to my obvious question, Hoosier Nation? If Indiana finishes seventh in the Big Ten this year, would you be happy with the progress or disappointed in being middle of the pack, even in Woodson's first year?
Here are the results of their poll:
Big Ten basketball preseason projections
Voting points included; first-place votes in parentheses.
- (tie) Michigan, 373 (13)
- (tie) Purdue, 373 (12)
- Illinois, 320 (3)
- Ohio State, 316
- Maryland, 269
- Michigan State, 262
- Indiana, 219
- Rutgers, 208
- Iowa, 150
- Wisconsin, 149
- Nebraska, 105
- (tie) Northwestern, 81
- (tie) Penn State, 81
- Minnesota, 34
Full disclosure, my own Big Ten Power Rankings will come out on Nov. 1, but I've got them sketched out already. I have Purdue as a clear No. 1, and I have Indiana two notches higher right now, at No. 5, with the potential to surprise, and finish even higher.
These media guys voted Illinois center Kofi Cockburn as the preseason player of the year by a wide margin, but it's going to be interesting to see how well he handles double teams this year with less talent around him.
Trayce Jackson-Davis in a more free-flowing offense has me curious to see how great he can be this year. I think he has as good a chance of winning Player of the Year as anybody.
Michigan's Caleb Houston was a prohibitive pick for Freshman of the Year, and Indiana's Tamar Bates didn't receive a single vote. I think anyone sleeping on Bates this year is making a huge mistake. His athleticism and skill set is the perfect fit for what Woodson wants to do — on both sides of the ball.
Sometimes it's good to temper optimism in October, and wait to let things play. I get that, but there are no games on Oct. 8. We need something to talk about, and this is it.
My biggest point to this is that here in Indiana, when we're very close to the situation, many in Hoosier Nation consider finishing seventh a big slight. They want Indiana to be better, and as smart basketball fans, they think this team is better than that.
The perception elsewhere, of course, is that Indiana is still a middle of the pack team in the Big Ten, which is probably still the best league in the country.
I'd love your comments in the social media section of this story post. (More good news coming on that soon!) Where would you rank the Hoosiers in your Big Ten preseason poll?
Related stories on Indiana basketball
- JUWAN HOWARD ON WOODSON: Michigan coach Juwan Howard has a lot of respect for Mike Woodson too, and he also knows what it takes to make the move from the NBA to college. He's had great success at Michigan, and Indiana is hoping Woodson will have similar results. CLICK HERE
- FRED HOIBERG on WOODSON: During his days as a player and coach in the NBA, Nebraska coach Fred Hoiberg said that he always admired new Indiana coach Mike Woodson, and thinks he'll have a lot of success at Indiana. CLICK HERE
- INDIANA SCHEDULE, GAME TIMES: Indiana's schedule is now complete, and most of the games now have a start time and TV designation. Here is the complete schedule, which begins on Nov. 9 with a home game against Eastern Michigan at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. CLICK HERE
- ISIAH THOMAS COMES HOME: Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas came home to Bloomington for Hoosier Hysteria last weekend, and it was an emotional day for him, being reunited with Mike Woodson, his former teammate in 1980. Thomas spoke to the fans, but also spent a lot of time with Indiana's current players. CLICK HERE