Indiana Hoosiers Basketball: What Makes the Hoosiers so Formidable?

Matt OveringContributor IIIJanuary 9, 2012

BLOOMINGTON, IN - JANUARY 05:  Cody Zeller #40 of the Indiana Hoosiers waits to grab a rebound during the Big Ten Conference game against the Michigan Wolverines at Assembly Hall on January 5, 2012 in Bloomington, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Tom Crean and his Indiana Hoosiers are 14-1. They are easily the surprise team of this college basketball season, with wins over powerhouse schools Kentucky and Ohio State.

But the Hoosiers aren't just lucky. They have beaten a ranked Michigan Wolverines squad and above-average teams like Butler, Notre Dame, and North Carolina State. Their one loss came to a formidable Michigan State team on the road, a tough out for any team.

What has changed from last year's Hoosier team that went 12-20? The names on the roster are relatively the same except one: Cody Zeller.

The freshman phenom averages 14.2 points per game and 6.4 rebounds per game, the best among Big Ten freshmen. He makes 65.6 percent of his shots, which makes him one of the most efficient big men in the country. 

Zeller's big body inside allows Indiana's shooters to spread the floor. Indiana shoots an astounding 45.6 percent from beyond the arc, which is best in the nation. In their three wins against ranked teams, they made 21 threes out of the 39 they shot, good for 53.8 percent. 

In their game at Penn State January 8, Indiana made 16 out of their 24 threes attempted. 

Talk about bringing your A game.

This gaudy three-point percentage previews a larger trait of this Indiana team: they are efficient. An average of 50.5 percent overall from the field (fifth in the nation), coupled with a solid 1.17 assist-to-turnover ratio, means the Hoosiers rarely go down the court without a good look at the basket.

If you need more convincing, look no further than Assembly Hall.

Indiana has one of the best home-court advantages in the Big Ten. They play eight more home games this year, which gives them the opportunity to have their first 20-win season since Eric Gordon was a Hoosier in 2007-2008.

The Indiana Hoosiers are no longer flying under the radar. They surprised the college basketball nation with a win over Kentucky then proved it was no fluke with a win over Ohio State.

Indiana is here to stay, folks. Tom Crean is in the running for both Big Ten and NCAA coach of the year, and for good reason. This team is good.