The Indiana men’s basketball team, which was once ranked No. 3 in the country, wasn’t even one of seven Big Ten teams to make the NCAA field. Instead, the Hoosiers endured a five-game losing streak in the middle of the conference season and were relegated to the NIT after an 18-15 regular season that included a 7-11 Big Ten mark.
Still, Indiana received a No. 3 seed in the NIT — giving the Hoosiers the right to host a first-round game in the consolation tournament against sixth-seeded Georgia Tech.
In a bizarre move, Indiana accepted the tournament bid but declined the home game, choosing to let Georgia Tech host. School officials couldn’t quite settle on an explanation for that curious decision, but on their third swing this is what they settled on:
“Assembly Hall is iconic. You’ve gotta be careful not to devalue it.”
So hosting an NIT game — something Indiana has done in the past, it was noted by the Washington Post — would have somehow cheapened the experience of going to a game at Indiana’s arena.
Now, the REAL reason to avoid a home game might have been that Indiana officials didn’t want to give fans one more chance to yell at embattled head coach Tom Crean.
But you probably don’t want to say that. Then again, you probably also don’t want to say having an NIT game in your place cheapens your arena — particularly when your women’s basketball team is hosting an NIT game in that very arena Thursday night.
In any event, Indiana’s men’s team was clobbered 75-63 in a listless loss at Georgia Tech on Tuesday night. How was the home crowd for the lower-seeded and victorious team?
“The crowd was loud. I could barely talk to my own guys,” Georgia Tech forwardQuinton Stephens said.