BLOOMINGTON – Indiana hasn't been here since Calbert Cheaney ruled Assembly Hall.
Yes, being a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament means something.
“It's a big deal,” coach Tom Crean said.
The Hoosiers got their first No. 1 seed since 1993, and just their third overall since seeding began in 1979. The other was 1987.
IU (27-6) is No. 1 in the East Region. It will open on Friday in Dayton, Ohio, against Wednesday night's winner between Long Island University Brooklyn (20-13) and James Madison (20-14).
If the Hoosiers win that game, they'll play Sunday against the winner between eighth-seeded North Carolina State (24-10) and ninth-seeded Temple (23-9) on Sunday. That winner advances to next week's Sweet 16 in Washington D.C.
"The whole goal to be as good as we can this week, win in Dayton and take it from there,” Crean said.
Based on the seedings, IU has the best shot of any Big Ten team to reach the Final Four. It is the Big Ten's only No. 1 seed. Ohio State got a No. 2 seed in the West Region.
Even better, the Hoosiers only have one Big Ten team in their East Region path before the Final Four, and given seven Big Ten squads made the 68-team field, that's saying something.
Illinois is a No. 7 seed in the East, but would likely have to get past third-seeded Marquette and second-seeded Miami to face the Hoosiers.
Big Ten quality was so good and so demanding, Michigan State coach Tom Izzo quipped he'd rather play the L.A. Lakers in the NCAA tourney than another Big Ten squad. Crean agreed.
“It's a whole new season, a whole new energy level,” he said. “It's a great league. The trick is can you keep getting better,
“We're going to play against somebody different. That unknown is a great force."