Indiana State Basketball Misses March Madness, But One Of Favorites In NIT

Posted on March 20, 2024

The Indiana State men’s basketball team did not make the NCAA Tournament this year, leaving many scratching their heads.

The Sycamores finished with 28 wins and were considered the Missouri Valley Conference’s best team for most of the season.

However, Indiana State fell to Drake in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament championship game. In turn, Drake earned the automatic qualifier for the NCAA Tournament, and all Indiana State could do was hope the selection committee valued their resume up until that point.

Unfortunately for head coach Josh Schertz‘s team, the selection committee kept Indiana State out of the Big Dance.

The committee did not select Indiana State as an at-large bid for the tournament. On Selection Sunday, Indiana State sat at 29th in the NET rankings. The Sycamores are now the highest-ranked team to miss the tournament.

“Felt like all year, the league was trending toward a multi-bid league,” head coach Schertz said. “We did enough. 28-6, lost three games total when we had our full (lineup available), 29th in the NET — which is supposed to be the tool that prevents bias for the Power Five (schools). It’s beyond disappointing, but it’s the way it is.”

Shertz has done a fantastic job elevating the program. In his first season (2021-22), the Sycamores finished 11-20. Last year they ended with a record of 23-13 before this season’s 28-6 finish.

The season isn’t over, though. Indiana State was selected as a 1-seed in the 2024 National Invitational Tournament and faces SMU on Wednesday. Here’s a look at some fan reaction, what you need to know on the Sycamores and their odds to win the NIT in the Indiana sports betting market.

Fans wanted Indiana State in the 2024 NCAA Tournament

Indiana State boasts an exciting brand of basketball, and fans were upset the Sycamores aren’t able to showcase that on the biggest stage.

Indiana State ranked 22nd nationally in KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency. The team averaged 84.4 points per game, which ranked eight nationally.

It’s safe to say fans and the national media weren’t exactly thrilled at the news of the Sycamores missing March Madness.

What to know about Indiana State basketball this postseason

Offense is the name of the game for the Sycamores. And that’s thanks in large part to center Robbie Avila, who’s become an internet sensation with his style of play.

The sophomore led the team in scoring, averaging 17.5 points per game, while grabbing 6.6 rebounds and dishing 3.8 assists. Nicknamed “Cream Abdul-Jabbar,” he’s a highlight reel for the program. His play style resembles that of Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic in the fact that while he’s not extremely athletic like most bigs, he possesses excellent footwork, anticipates defenders with ease, displays flashy passing and isn’t afraid to knock down shots from behind the 3-point line.

Aside from Avila, guards Ryan Conwell and Isaiah Swope help balance the offense.

Former South Florida Bull Conwell transferred into the program after last season and was an immediate impact. Conwell averages 16.2 points per game and is one of the team’s best shooters at 40.3% from 3-point range.

It’s a similar story for Swope, a Southern Indiana transfer. He averaged 16.5 points per game and shot 37.5% from downtown.

How to watch Indiana State basketball in the NIT

Fans looking to watch their hometown Sycamores can do so on Wednesday. Indiana State’s game against SMU tips off at 7 p.m. ET. Fans can watch the action with ESPN+.

Should the Sycamores win, they will face the winner of Butler and Minnesota.

Indiana State boasts fourth-best odds to win the NIT

Indiana residents have a number of sportsbooks they can enjoy during March Madness. The newest one opened last month when Bally’s Evansville debuted its Bally Bet sportsbook. And oddsmakers give Indiana State the edge against SMU this week.

The Sycamores are 7.5-point favorites heading into their first game of the NIT. Indiana State is -295 to win outright and the total for Wednesday’s game is 156.5 points, which ties for the highest point total of any first-round NIT matchup.

Indiana State covered in 59.4% of its games this season, boasting a 19-13-1 record against the spread. As they are on Wednesday, the Sycamores were betting favorites in 29 of their games this year. In those 29 games, Indiana State covered in 64.3% of them. It’s also worth noting that more than half of Indiana State’s games this season (57.6%) ended with the over hitting.

As of Tuesday, Indiana State is +900 to win the entire NIT. Wake Forest has the best odds to do so at +600, followed by Ohio State (+700) and Villanova (+750).

Photo by AP Photo / Jeff Roberson
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Adam Hensley

Adam Hensley is a journalist from Des Moines, Iowa, who currently works for the USA Today Network. His byline has appeared in the Associated Press, Sports Illustrated and sites within the USA Today Network. Hensley graduated from the University of Iowa in 2019 and spent his college career working for the Daily Iowan’s sports department, both as an editor and reporter.

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